House Republicans have now subpoenaed Hunter Biden and James Biden, President Joe Biden’s son and brother, as part of their ongoing and so far fruitless effort to connect the president to any kind of corruption at all. Republicans have been on this for nearly a year in an investigation involving thousands of pages of documents and multiple witnesses, but they keep pretending that if they harass Biden and his family a little more, they’ll find something. Because we’re talking about Republicans, they’re definitely not worried about hypocrisy, but they can still look bumbling, confused, and all-around bad, as Rep. Greg Murphy showed when faced with a tough barrage of questions from CNN’s John Berman.
Berman set Murphy up with a simple question, referring to those subpoenas to Hunter and James Biden: “Will you vote to hold them in contempt” if they don’t respond? “Absolutely, absolutely, why would they not be, what do they have to hide?” Murphy responded, oozing relaxed confidence.
He didn’t seem ready for the follow-up: “Why have you changed your position on holding people in contempt of Congress? You voted against holding Steve Bannon in contempt.”
Murphy’s response made no sense right from the start. “Well, I think it’s a little bit different when you have the president of the United States, when you have somebody who’s not an elected official, you have the president of the United States was selling his influence, his son was …”
This kicked off an extended back and forth, with Berman trying to pin Murphy down on who the heck the elected official in question was, given that neither of the people who has been subpoenaed is an elected official. Asked about contempt of Congress for people who don’t respond to subpoenas, Murphy only wanted to talk about the president—who has not been subpoenaed.
At one point, Berman stopped Murphy to press on the fundamental problem here: “I’m sorry, who are you saying is in elected office here when you’re talking about holding people in contempt of Congress for being nonresponsive?”
Murphy: “Well, tell me what office Steve Bannon was in.”
Berman: “Well, tell me what office Hunter Biden is in.”
“No, I’m not talking about Hunter Biden,” Murphy said, in a conversation that was entirely about his vow to vote to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress if he didn’t respond to a subpoena. “I’m talking about Joe Biden, the president of the United States.”
“You haven’t subpoenaed him,” Berman responded. “I’m asking if Hunter Biden or Jim Biden, the brother and son of the president, who are not elected officials, if they’re not responsive, will you hold them in contempt?”
“Think about this, John,” said Murphy, who was obviously not thinking about anything but how to fit his talking points into this inconvenient line of questioning. “If you’ve seen the facts, the facts that have occurred, we’ve seen that there’s been influence-peddling.” Then, having delivered that line that was not an answer to the question being asked, he dived back into his canned and baseless accusations against the president. Who has not been subpoenaed.
Berman tried to pull it back on track by again pointing out that Murphy had voted not to hold Bannon in contempt.
“Yeah, but was Steve Bannon related to the president of the United States?”
“No, he was a former employee of President Donald Trump, and the other people who you did not vote to hold in contempt literally worked for the former president, Donald Trump.”
Murphy blathered about Hunter Biden “using the Biden brand,” which he insisted was “an entirely different standard, John, and you know it.” Well, yes, we all know that the different standard here is that Biden is a Democrat and Republicans are determined to drag him down even without evidence of corruption.
“I just, no, I don’t, I’m actually still confused,” Berman responded. “We’re talking about private citizens, and my question to you is if they are not responsive to the subpoena would you hold them in contempt. You say yes for Hunter Biden. You voted no for Steve Bannon, and then you talk about there’s a different standard for elected officials but neither of them are elected.”
Just to be clear, Murphy’s stated, albeit muddled, position is that it’s more relevant to subpoena people who happen to be related to a president than people who worked for a president in his official capacity. But trying to discern a logic beyond the partisan witch hunt is kind of pointless, because that’s the only there there. They want to get Joe Biden, and since they haven’t been able to find any evidence he’s corrupt, they’re going to use “Biden family” to muddy things.