(Jan. 29) There is no good legal reason for either Joe or Hunter Biden to testify at the Senate impeachment trial. But there are legitimate reasons for the Senate later to hold ordinary oversight hearings about the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine.

The Bidens should be asked to testify under oath, under penalty of perjury charges, but they should be given “use immunity” for the substance of anything to which they testify.

I argued yesterday that their testimony is irrelevant to the Senate trial of President Trump. The short version: Even if the Bidens did act corruptly, the case against Trump is that he had no authority nudging a foreign state to go after them — much less in the way he went about it, using U.S. aid as leverage.

To that understanding, I should add that it’s absurd to say Hunter Biden was ever at risk in the “investigation” into the Burisma energy company’s former executive, for the simple reason that Biden joined Burisma’s board after the actions that had prompted the investigation. (Most of the investigation involved events from way back in 2002, which was 12 years before Biden joined the board.)

So, then, why should the Senate hold hearings on the Biden’s actions? Simple: That which is irrelevant to an impeachment trial can still be, broadly speaking, unethical, even if it isn’t illegal. It may also have relevance to U.S. policy. For example: If Hunter Biden’s (probably legal but sleazy) profiteering on Burisma’s board helped create alliances within Ukraine that affected the attitudes of various Ukrainian power brokers vis-a-vis Trump and, eventually, the administration as a whole, then our diplomats need to unravel it all in order to ameliorate the problem.

With that in mind, here are the sorts of questions senators may want to ask the Bidens….

[The full column is at this link.]


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