It was an undeniable stunt by Hunter Biden – and it wasn’t even as effective as his last stunt.
The president’s son crashed his own House contempt hearing yesterday, sat in the front row and dramatically walked out – with all three cable news networks following him to the press mob in the hallway. His lawyer ripped the Republican-run committee for refusing to hold a public hearing, and Hunter soon slipped into a waiting SUV while mumbling only a few words to the press.
None of this was good for his father, whose White House aides are frustrated when Hunter seizes the spotlight, reviving questions about unethical business practices tied to the impeachment inquiry of the president.
Just a day earlier, Lloyd Austin’s disappearing act turned into a full-fledged firestorm. We learned–not long after the White House did – that the Pentagon chief is battling prostate cancer.
The idea that nine days after he was rushed to Walter Reed, we finally found out that Austin was being treated for a serious disease, and not the “minor” elective procedure he had claimed, is mind-boggling. Of course we all wish the retired general, who is still hospitalized, a speedy recovery.
For days, Joe Biden couldn’t consult with the man overseeing America’s armed forces, didn’t even know he was in the hospital. The secretary of Defense, who is in the nuclear chain of command, was AWOL. And yet the White House coughed up a statement saying the president still has confidence in him.
All of which makes Biden look weak and unwilling to fire anyone.
The two episodes are unconnected, but they underscore how the administration often seems to lose control of events.
When Hunter Biden last made a surprise appearance, outside the Capitol, he spoke to reporters about how he was ready to testify, but not in a closed-door session. At least the public got to hear him and weigh his case.
The argument for public testimony has a certain populist appeal. But the truth is that Hill committees routinely demand private depositions, spending hours vacuuming up details, before they grant a televised hearing. And Biden could be charged with contempt of Congress on that basis alone.
When Hunter and his entourage walked in, GOP Rep. Nancy Mace demanded he be immediately jailed. When they walked about, Marjorie Taylor Greene accused him of being afraid of strong conservative women.
By the time his attorney was making his hallway comments, Hunter briskly walked toward the exit, looking like he was heading back into hiding. The novelty had worn off.
And keep in mind that Hunter is under criminal indictment. So he’s going to continue to be an albatross for his dad.
Meanwhile, bipartisan criticism continues to build over Austin’s shocking lack of candor. Pennsylvania Democrat Chris Deluzio yesterday became the first lawmaker in his party to call for the secretary’s resignation.
The prostate cancer disclosure has brought into sharp relief that Austin did something that might have gotten an ordinary soldier court-martialed for being MIA.
And one broader point: The reclusive Austin rarely talks to reporters or holds news conferences and takes only a handful of journalists on foreign trips. So how can he be an effective advocate for the military and for the commander-in-chief? Maybe it’s time for him to concentrate on healing.
Footnote: Chris Christie dropped out of the presidential race yesterday, after days of insisting he would do no such thing. I thought he’d at least wait till after Iowa, since his departure will mainly help Haley in New Hampshire.
When he was preparing to run, the former New Jersey governor told me he would stay in as long as he had a shot at the nomination. But he came to be viewed as an anti-Trump spoiler, didn’t qualify for last night’s debate, and said last night he no longer had a path.
“I would rather lose by telling the truth than lie in order to win,” Christie said. He accused Republican lawmakers who endorse him of “cowardice” and “hypocrisy.” And now he’s he’s folded his tent.
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