At the height of Watergate, then-President Richard Nixon boldly asserted that the American people had a right to know “whether or not their president is a crook.” The same is true today.
The question takes on added significance as accumulating evidence suggests that President Biden may have used the influence of the various governmental offices he has held over his long career to enrich himself, his family and his associates.
The people who are supposed to ask tough questions about such matters have been strangely silent on the latest disclosure about the underhanded way in which Mr. Biden communicated with son Hunter about matters including Ukraine.
More than 5,000 pseudonymous emails sent and received by Mr. Biden in his years as vice president are in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration).
The messages that have come to light so far show Mr. Biden used fake names like Robin Ware, Robert L. Peters and JRB Ware to discuss the then-vice president’s schedule, his availability to take phone calls to “prep” him before interacting with a foreign leader and the appointment of at least one person to a position in the U.S. government.
The National Archives has redacted the bulk of the messages, asserting that they contain personal information exempt from freedom of information laws. Still, the very existence of an underhanded communications channel is troubling, given the president’s insistence that he never mixed official business with his son’s dubious overseas endeavors.
It’s difficult to come up with a plausible reason for using pseudonyms other than evasion of disclosure rules that were established, because the public has a right to know exactly what public officials are doing with their tax dollars. The retention of official documents is such serious business that the Justice Department has indicted former President Donald Trump on charges that he mishandled them.
According to a recent CNN poll, 61% of American voters think the president was in some way involved with Hunter Biden’s business activities. Nearly half, 42%, said they believed those activities were probably illegal. And 29% stopped short of that, saying they were merely unethical.
The extraordinary efforts taken by Mr. Biden’s allies in and out of government to discredit and keep secret the contents of Hunter’s laptop add credence to the allegations of corrupt practices such as influence peddling may be part of the Biden family way of doing things. By any reasonable standard, the laptop contents and the clandestine email identities ought to be enough to set off alarm bells.
Given the hopelessly partisan leadership at the Justice Department, it’s unlikely that any real investigation will take place. The department bent over backward to sanction Hillary Clinton’s surreptitious use of a secret email server concealed in her bathroom, while simultaneously launching a full-scale inquiry into her main political rival on the flimsiest of evidence.
That leaves it to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to provide the muscle to back up the inquiry being conducted by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, who wants to get to the bottom of the matter. The Kentucky Republican is likely to meet administration resistance the further he delves into the topic.
Nixon gave his famous Watergate speech 50 years ago, and his words still resonate. If Mr. Biden has an explanation of his actions that doesn’t involve the word “crook,” he ought to have no problem releasing the official emails, unredacted.