Republicans believe Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma Gas Company in Ukraine justifies a subpoena requiring his testimony at the impeachment trial.
Skeptics have suggested that the Biden/Burisma matter reeks of red herring, a Republican attempt to distract from the task at hand: judging fairly and impartially the impeachment articles regarding Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
But what if the Republican senators’ denunciation of the Biden/Burisma matter is uncharacteristically genuine? Might they be hinting at a more general revulsion with nepotism in government?
If this is the case, then the impeachment trial is an inappropriate venue for an issue of this magnitude. Justice demands that Senate Republicans seize this moment and separate the Biden/Burisma matter from the impeachment trial, and appoint a dedicated blue-ribbon commission to eliminate the scourge of nepotism in our government.
Hunter Biden would logically be the commission’s first witness, answering under oath how he was offered this position, what his qualifications were, what sort of work he did in order to merit a fat paycheck, and whether he actually received a billion dollars from China. Haste is important for the country’s well-being, for it’s hard to imagine Republicans doing an honest day’s work until this itch is scratched.
But if the problem of nepotism in government is larger than just Hunter Biden, and if the Republican outrage is more than gas, then the commission should begin by investigating corrupt behavior in the families of all members of the three branches of our government.
And what better place to start first than with the first family? Despite the festering corruption in his own Cabinet, Trump somehow cannot tolerate the thought of corruption in a Ukrainian gas company. The Trump boys themselves have been shaken by the Bidens’ crass behavior. Don Jr. lamented the Bidens’ gross “disregard for appearances” and their patent “conflicts of interest.” Eric was disconsolate on Oct. 19 when he sighed: “Why is it that every family goes into politics and enriches themselves?”
Trump himself would expect such a commission to remove any taint that might attach to his own children. Trump’s nepotism-hating kids would breeze through any Republican commission’s probe by simply answering a few questions regarding their employment and finances since their father became president. Questions like:
n Ivanka and Jared: Was your employment at the White House contingent on your qualifications or your family connections? Did your father approve your security clearances over the objections of the intelligence community and Chief of Staff John Kelly? Did you sell your Manhattan penthouse to a woman tied to Chinese military intelligence for 13 percent more than you paid a year earlier when other similar units in the same building were selling for 25 percent less?
n Ivanka: Did you use your interview on “60 Minutes” as an opportunity to market your apparel and accessories line? Is it true that you enlisted Kellyanne Conway to promote your line on TV? Also, how is it that you have secured more than 20 lucrative patents for your products in China, even during our trade war?
n Jared: Did your special friend, Mohammed bin Salman, swoop in at the 11th hour and pay off the mammoth $1.4 billion mortgage on your Fifth Avenue building, thereby sparing you an embarrassing foreclosure? Is it true that the Saudi prince told confidants that you were “in his pocket”? And are you a partner in a very large tax shelter in the Cayman Islands, along with, uh, Saudi Arabian friends?
n Eric and Don Jr.: Would either of you be the head of the Trump organization if your father hadn’t handed it to you? Is it true you have sold off more than $100 million worth of Trump real estate since your father’s election? Why are you building a second golf course in Scotland when your first one has been in the red for seven straight years?
n Don Jr.: You traveled to India last year to sell more than $1 billion worth of luxury residential units. Do you think business and government representatives feted you because of your irresistible personality or your connection to your father? Why did you decline to answer whether this trip was a conflict of interest?
n And finally, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric: Each of you owns a 7.425 percent interest in the holding company that leases D.C.’s Trump International Hotel. It pays you each almost $4 million annually. How does that pass the nepotism smell test?”
Judging from the Republican senators’ expected verdict on impeachment, their commission’s response will be: “Yes, it all passes the smell test. All we smell is Burisma gas. Get over it. Nothing to see here. MAGA.”
William Shaw, of Pinehurst, is the author of “Fellowship of Dust: Retracing the WWII Journey of Sergeant Frank Shaw.”