Before the Washington football team formally changed its name to the Commanders — a remarkably lame choice — I openly advocated for calling the team the Washington Subpoenas.
Subpoenas are the penalty flags of the legal system. And what could be more Washington than being caught in a personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct? Or unnecessary roughness.
Hunter Biden has subpoenas going in two directions. He’s answering subpoenas from James Comer’s “Impeach Joe Biden” House Committee. And he’s issuing subpoenas to, among others, Bill Barr over Barr’s actions and inactions as Trump’s Attorney General. It is no doubt a sordid story, but we’re only getting small pieces of it.
These dueling subpoenas are of two different types: congressional and judicial. Congressional subpoenas, it turns out, don’t carry nearly the same weight as those issued by a court of law.
So it’s important to distinguish between the two types of subpoenas — congressional vs judicial — particularly when it comes to the ongoing ritual sacrifice of Hunter Biden.
Hunter continues to be the House Republicans’ most enduring scapegoat. And he’s just been “invited,” notoriously, to appear before James Comer’s ironically named House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.
But hold that thought. Because even as Hunter is on the receiving end of that subpoena, he is himself seeking subpoenas of Trump, Bill Barr, and two of Barr’s former deputies at DOJ.
While these judicial subpoenas are unlikely to be served, it seems to be Hunter’s intention to raise the visibility of recent high-profile arrests in Ukraine. Yes, Ukraine.
Indeed, three Ukrainian legislators — one member and two former members of the parliament — have been charged with treason. They’re accused of working with Russian military intelligence — the notorious GRU — to disseminate false information aimed at undermining the Ukrainian government. This was back when Putin was still undermining, as opposed to invading.
Not coincidentally, the crimes these legislators committed happen to dovetail neatly with the misadventures of Rudy Giuliani, who at the time was gallivanting around Eastern Europe, looking for any dirt he could find, on any Biden he could slime with it. He “uncovered” a lot of nonsensical “evidence,” much of which came out in the first impeachment hearing of his boss.
But now we’re finding out that the nonsensical evidence in question was, in fact, one-hundred-percent Russian disinformation. The three Ukrainian arrestees had taken GRU’s bogus “intelligence” about Hunter Biden, and tailored it to Rudy’s political needs.
Those needs were, quite famously, to spin whatever he could find into a major scandal that would tank Joe Biden’s presidential aspirations, and lift Trump to a second term. This was a spectacularly bad idea, and, as we know, it did not go well.
But now, it turns out that the very same disinformation Rudy used to smear Hunter Biden was treated as real intelligence by Trump’s Justice Department, particularly by Bill Barr and the two deputies being served with Hunter’s subpoenas.
It’s a long and convoluted story that I can only sketch here, but while Rudy was illegally bringing home Russian disinformation for use in Trump’s presidential campaign, Barr was running interference for him at DOJ. He blocked all attempts by federal prosecutors to investigate Rudy for, say, espionage. At the same time, he ensured that the disinformation itself would get leaked to the media and used to smear Joe Biden. Which, by the way, didn’t work.
With these recent revelations in mind, it’s no surprise that Hunter Biden — through his A-list lawyer Abbe Lowell — has been trying to obtain DOJ records on the subject, and has now resorted to subpoenas.
Rather than get into the minutiae of this web of international intrigue — which I couldn’t do anyway — let’s move on to the other subpoena with Hunter’s name on it: the summons to testify before James Comer’s House committee.
Since Comer’s inquisition of Hunter is a transparent sham — and everyone outside the Fox media bubble knows it — Comer had every reason to believe Abbe Lowell would use all available delaying tactics to keep Hunter out of that hearing room. Comer surely would have used such delays as proof that Hunter was hiding something.
But then Lowell, in a move that has Comer totally flummoxed, accepted the summons, and unexpectedly insisted that Hunter would testify, but only in public.
Which would, of course, ruin the whole scheme. Comer — possibly the world’s dumbest public official — had been planning on grilling Hunter behind closed doors, so that he and his fellow Republicans could cherry-pick the parts of the testimony that are Fox-friendly, and bury the ones that aren’t.
But now he faces the prospect of seeing his whole scam exposed on a public stage. There are formidable Democrats on that committee — Jamie Raskin, Dan Goldman, AOC, Katie Porter, to name a few — and it’s not hard to imagine how they might eviscerate Comer’s evidence-free claims. And Comer knows it — he’s been backpedaling on the subpoenas ever since. He hasn’t said much about impeaching Hunter’s daddy lately, either.
Because here’s where we come full circle. It just so happens that last spring, when Comer was finding “whistleblowers” under every rock — each with a story about “Biden family corruption” that crumbled under the slightest scrutiny — one of these shady characters produced “incriminating” evidence that was, in fact, based entirely on GRU disinformation.
In other words, key pieces of Comer’s investigation into Hunter Biden are based on the work of Russian spies, three of whom are now under indictment for treason in Ukraine.
So even as Hunter is serving subpoenas on Bill Barr over the criminal dissemination of Russian disinformation, he is simultaneously answering subpoenas from a committee that could be using that same Russian disinformation against him.
It isn’t hard to see that Hunter Biden is bearing the entire weight of a five-year smear campaign, and for no other reason than an accident of birth. So whenever he gets the chance to hit back — to expose hacks like James Comer for the malicious swine they are — we need to cheer him on. The harder he hits them, the better.
Think of it as necessary roughness.