The Trump impeachment bandwagon rolls on. And, as this blog pointed out not so long ago, it may not end well for President Trump.
But one benefit for Trump is emerging.
You can guarantee that in the impeachment process journalists will trawl over every detail. And one detail which has been treated by the press without much fanfare so far is the chequered commercial career of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic hopeful and former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Since the proximate cause of impeachment proceedings is the suggestion that Trump wanted Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden’s activities, the regular media are now getting stuck into the wider Biden context. For example, London’s Financial Times writes about “Hunter Biden’s web of interests: His ties span the globe and raise questions about the overlap of business and politics”. America’s National Review provides a career timeline from 2006, starting “From being appointed senior MBNA vice president (two years out of law school), to a gift of a 2.8-carat diamond from a Chinese energy tycoon, to Burisma Holdings …. “ (Burisma is the Ukrainian energy company which asked Hunter Biden to join its board at a salary of $50,000 per month).
The fact that no one has produced any evidence of illegality may be irrelevant. The key issue may be whether the intense scrutiny dispels or reinforces any impressions of influence peddling or simply of well-connected people doing well.
It comes down to public perception – a point which Trump will keenly appreciate, having himself faced extensive media coverage of his and his family’s business interests. Expect him to paint a picture contrasting his ebulliently-entreprenurial wealth, with the pickings of crony capitalism. Think back to the scrutiny of Clinton Foundation donors during the 2016 election campaign.
The immediate upshot could be the demolition of the Biden candidacy. And the Democrats might regret losing their most obviously centrist and hardest-to-pigeonhole presidential hopeful. Trump – assuming of course he is still a candidate – would relish the chance to caricature any of the other candidates (and you might assume that the Democrats have already gone as far as they can in doing this to Trump).
It shows what a big bet the Democrats are taking on impeachment – and if they can’t win that one in the court of public opinion, then you would have a few more doubts about their ability to win in the same court come election night 2020.