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Biden bribery allegations central to GOP impeachment but questions linger

By Jake Beardslee · December 21, 2023

In brief…

  • Bribery claims center on Biden's Ukraine dealings but pose pitfalls for Republicans
  • Ties between Hunter Biden's work and actions by president appear limited
  • Some question strength of evidence and circumstantial case against Biden
The GOP's impeachment case alleges Biden bribery over Ukraine but rests on disputed claims and limited evidence of presidential wrongdoing.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States/Wikimedia

House Republicans are betting big that allegations of bribery will be the centerpiece of their impeachment case against President Biden, reports The Hill. Sources signal the GOP plans to focus on claims that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor to protect his son Hunter, who sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

“The impeachable offense is - I think, the key thing is in Burisma,” said House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

But proving bribery poses pitfalls. The prosecutor wasn’t investigating Burisma at the time, and Biden’s call for his ouster had bipartisan and international backing. The bribery claim stems from an FBI tip about a Burisma exec boasting of payments to the Bidens - which the bureau couldn’t confirm.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) conceded finding a “smoking gun” is politically appealing but not always realistic. He argued the totality of evidence would suffice. “It would be very nice if you had what everybody calls the smoking gun. The reality is, in a lot of these large-scale cases, there never is,” Armstrong said in an interview with The Hill.

The GOP alleges Biden pushed for the firing to help Hunter and Burisma. But ties between Hunter’s work and the president are limited to some loan repayments. Republicans question those deals but offer no direct proof Biden took action for Burisma.

Armstrong conceded each deal with Hunter could have an innocent explanation but said collectively they seem suspicious. Others say the evidence doesn’t yet show wrongdoing by Biden. “Even their circumstantial evidence doesn’t show any crime by Joe Biden,” said former House Oversight staff director Dave Rapallo.