Status: 16.09.2023, 10:50 a.m.
The investigation against Joe Biden is a "theatre with bad actors". In response to the Republican attack, Team Biden is now taking a two-pronged approach.
In the three days since House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced an impeachment investigation into President Joe Biden, White House officials have called the investigation "extreme politics at its worst." The matter was dismissed as "illegitimate" and a 14-page rebuttal was published.
Biden's wider circles have joined the aggressive resistance. His re-election campaign fired off a fundraising email on Wednesday castigating the investigation as "theater with bad actors." His son Hunter Biden, who is at the center of the Republican impeachment campaign, on Wednesday sued a far-right activist who is investigating him and providing information to Congress.
Impeachment of the president? Joe Biden stays out of it
Biden himself, according to allies of the president, wants to stay out of the matter and concentrate on presenting his economic successes and leading the country. At a meeting of health advisers on Wednesday, Biden ignored reporters' vociferous questions about the impeachment process, and he also did not comment on the investigation during an economic speech on Thursday.
US President Biden will chair a meeting of his cabinet at the White House on Wednesday. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post
This dynamic points to a two-pronged strategy as Republicans launch an impeachment investigation that still contains few details: Biden will suggest that the impeachment inquiry is a political game unworthy of his attention, while his associates and allies engage Republicans in a fierce hand-to-hand combat.
Joel Benenson, a Democratic strategist who worked on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, said it made sense for Biden's proxies to use the hard-hitting tactic. Biden himself should avoid being distracted from the investigation if he can. The White House, Benenson said, should aggressively criticize Republicans for trying to divert attention from the four criminal cases against former President Donald Trump.
"I think the Republicans are stepping into a quagmire here," Benenson said. "And I think they're going to get very muddy trying to swim out of there."
Republicans want to investigate Hunter Biden's business dealings
Most Republicans disagree, at least publicly. McCarthy has said that impeachment investigations will focus, among other things, on whether the president profited from his son's dealings. Many Republican party leaders stress that many Americans have real questions about this. "We're going to go wherever the evidence takes us," McCarthy told reporters.
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Biden addressed the investigation — briefly — at a campaign rally in McLean, Virginia, Wednesday night, dismissing it as intertwined with Republican threats to shut down the government. Some of McCarthy's most conservative members, whose votes he needs to approve spending bills, are among those pushing hardest for impeachment. If Congress cannot agree on spending, the government will shut down.
Joe Biden claims not to bother with impeachment
The president said he was focused on things other than the investigation. "I have a job to do," Biden said. "Everyone always asks for impeachment. I get up every day – no joke – and don't focus on impeachment proceedings."
Biden recently returned from a trip to India and Vietnam, where he sought to strengthen the global coalition against Russia's war in Ukraine and solidify America's alliances against China. He said on Thursday that he plans to give a major speech on democracy in the coming weeks.
The president's advisers hope that such activities will show that Biden is engaged in issues that matter to the country, while his opponents are engaged in pursuing vague accusations against his son. While announcing their impeachment proceedings this week, Republicans fought to pass the basic funding bills needed to maintain government.
Democrats point to impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton
The Democrats argue that voters are getting impatient because they feel the political drama in Washington is unjustified. They point to the Republicans' impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton in 1998, which led to a surge in Clinton's popularity and set the stage for Republicans' losses in the midterm elections that same year.
And they are making a special effort to link the impeachment process to Trump, who has supported the move and is unpopular with many swing voters. A spokesman for the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign accused McCarthy of acting as an extension of Trump's campaign, saying Republicans were "bringing to court the same debunked conspiracy theories they've been investigating for over four years."
"While Donald Trump stepped up his calls for an unfounded impeachment, Kevin McCarthy cemented his role as the super-surrogate of the Trump campaign by turning the House of Representatives into an arm of his presidential campaign," spokesman Ammar Moussa said in a statement. He pointed to some congressional Republicans who said they saw no evidence of any wrongdoing by Biden.
Impeachment of Joe Biden: all just a trick of the Republicans?
The Biden campaign also sent out an email signed by Vice President Kamala Harris focusing on the impeachment. This email is said to have brought in more donations to Harris and Biden than any email sent out this campaign cycle, according to a person familiar with the campaign strategy who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal metrics. The person said the Biden team will continue to stick to the message that Biden is focused on the economy. The investigation was a "ploy by the Republicans to attack the president and damage him politically and to support Donald Trump's presidential campaign." However, they acknowledged that the investigation is likely to be difficult for the Democrats and the White House.
"I don't think there's a Democrat who wants impeachment," the person said. "I don't think impeachment is going to be a particularly pleasant experience, and I think everyone is aware of that."
Hunter Biden also puzzles the Democrats
Democrats have sometimes struggled to explain Hunter Biden's activities, including his stint on the board of directors of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma at a time when his father was Obama's interlocutor for Ukraine. However, they emphasize that there is no evidence that any of these activities violated the law.
House Republicans have not provided evidence that President Biden has benefited from his son's dealings, although they have accused the Justice Department of obstructing an investigation into Hunter Biden's activities. So far, however, they have said little about how the impeachment process will differ from the ongoing investigation into the president's son.
"Republicans in Congress have been investigating the president all year," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday. "They spent the whole year on it and found no evidence that he did anything wrong."
Hunter Biden's activities may be among the most politically explosive issues Biden will face if he wants to stay in office for four more years. The younger Biden has been close to his father in recent months as he reached a tentative agreement in a tax and gun crime case — and then saw that deal fail. Hunter Biden was indicted on Thursday for alleged false testimony and illegal possession of weapons, paving the way for a possible trial.
Hunter Biden sues former adviser to Donald Trump
Hunter Biden, whose lawyers sometimes take a remarkably aggressive approach, on Wednesday sued one of his main opponents, former Trump adviser Garrett Ziegler, calling him "a zealot who has waged an ongoing, disturbed and obsessive campaign against [Hunter Biden] and the entire Biden family for more than two years."
The lawsuit alleges that Ziegler, who collects personal and financial information from Hunter Biden and posts it online, violated privacy laws, which Ziegler vehemently denies.
Also on Wednesday, a lawyer for Hunter Biden wrote to House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) urging him to retract his claim on Newsmax that he never received bank records he requested from Hunter Biden. "That you are now claiming live on television that we did not respond or ignored your committee's requests is simply not true," Abbe Lowell wrote.
In his response, a spokesperson for the Oversight Committee reiterated that the documents were withheld. "Hunter Biden did not provide these documents and communications," the spokesperson said in a statement. "Hunter Biden's legal team is splitting hairs because they have no other defense for the Bidens' corruption than trying to distract from the facts."
Team Biden calls investigation a "evidenceless goose hunt"
White House spokesman Ian Sams, who was brought into the White House last year to respond to Republican investigations in Congress, was among the most vocal defenders of the president. In an initial statement, he described the impeachment inquiry as a "goose hunt without evidence". Then he turned to the cable news to proclaim this message.
In an MSNBC appearance on Tuesday, Sams enumerated House Republicans who had expressed uncertainty about the need for an investigation, including Reps. David Joyce (Ohio), David Joyce (Ohio), Don Bacon (Neb.) and Dusty Johnson (S.D.).
About the author
Marisa Iati is a reporter in the general operations department at The Washington Post. Previously, she worked for the Star-Ledger and NJ.com in New Jersey, where she covered community chaos, community affairs, education, and crime.
"This is not based on anything substantial," Sams said. "It's based on the fact that [McCarthy] is being attacked by his right and he's putting red meat in front of them."
The next morning, the White House circulated a link to a newspaper article in which impeachment experts called the Republicans' arguments weak. Biden's advisers also sent a memo to news organizations arguing that coverage of the impeachment inquiry should highlight "the illegitimacy of the allegations on which House Republicans base all their actions."
At the very top, in red capital letters, the memo declared: "HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE BASING THEIR BIDEN IMPEACHMENT STUNT ON FALSE CLAIMS THAT HAVE REPEATEDLY DEBUNKED."
Meryl Kornfield and Tyler Pager contributed to this report.
We are currently testing machine translations. This article has been automatically translated from English into German.
This article was first published in English on September 15, 2023 by "Washingtonpost.com" - in the course of a cooperation, it is now also available in translation to the readers of IPPEN. MEDIA portals.