But there’s one question that hasn’t really been asked enough of President Trump and the GOP: If Hunter Biden’s position on the Burisma board was so clearly a problem, why were they all but silent about it for years?
Luckily, CNN’s Dana Bash posed that very query Sunday morning to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), leading to the following exchange:
BASH: You were in the majority in the House. You're on the committee that oversees this.Why didn't you investigate if it was so wrong then?MEADOWS: Well, one, I didn't -- I didn't know about it at the particular time.And when -- when you look at things, as things come up, you would...BASH: But it was public information.MEADOWS: What was public information?BASH: That Hunter Biden was on the board of this company.MEADOWS: Well, I -- I don't know about you. I'm -- I don't know that any of your viewers go and look through Burisma's notice that Hunter Biden was there.I think all of us can admit that we didn’t know that Hunter Biden was getting $50,000-plus a month from a corrupt Ukrainian company.
But Hunter Biden’s position wasn’t just squirreled away in regulatory filings or some other bureaucratic nook. When Burisma announced Biden’s appointment to its board in the spring of 2014, every media outlet under the sun covered the news, from The Post to Politico to the AP to the BBC and so on. The White House even explicitly denied that it constituted a conflict of interest. Vice President Biden’s visit to Ukraine the following month sparked a second round of stories on the ethics of his son’s position, including on Fox News. Nor did the story fade; the New York Times ran a follow-up on the Bidens and Ukraine in December 2015.
And you know what you won’t find when you read that old coverage? Republican leaders calling for investigations. The same people who were ready to investigate President Barack Obama if he hiccuped at the wrong time didn’t deem Hunter Biden a concern. Those silent included the current president. Trump, never one to shy away from criticizing the Obama administration, said not one word about Hunter Biden while his father was vice president. Yet Republicans now want us to believe that Trump’s extortion attempts were really about concern over Burisma? Give us a break.
What makes the Republican silence especially pathetic is that, unlike many GOP investigations in the Obama years, a Hunter Biden probe would have been on solid ground. That there is no evidence that Burisma got any favors from the Obama administration doesn’t mean that the younger Biden’s appointment was okay: Both government ethics watchdogs and mainstream media outlets noted the obvious ethical concerns at the time. (Conservative outlets, meanwhile, paid more attention to Hunter later in the year when he was discharged from the Naval Reserve for cocaine use.)
The truth is, were Trump or congressional Republicans actually concerned about corruption in Ukraine, they had years to say something about it. That they’re only now speaking up proves perhaps as well as anything that the president’s pressure on Ukraine was about nothing but extorting a foreign country to interfere in U.S. politics for Trump’s political benefit. And Meadows’s pitiful answer shows just how badly Republicans struggle to rebut that line of questioning. More Republicans should face it.