As House Democrats summon current and former Trump administration figures to testify for their impeachment inquiry, Republicans are casting about desperately for something other than the president's alleged crimes to talk about. Among their more popular talking points of late is that Hunter Biden, by accepting a handsomely-paid position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company during his father's vice presidency, was the shameless beneficiary of preferential treatment. "WHERE'S HUNTER?" the president tweeted earlier this week; his 2020 re-election campaign is now selling t-shirts with that slogan splashed across the front.
In an interview that aired on Good Morning America on Tuesday, Hunter Biden answered the president's question. "I'm here," he said. He acknowledged that he made a "mistake" by failing to anticipate the political fallout, but denied any wrongdoing. "What I regret is not taking into account that there would be a Rudy Giuliani and a President of the United States that would be listening to this—this ridiculous conspiracy idea."
Many of the conservative types criticizing Hunter Biden for profiting off his family connections, though, owe their careers—at least in part—to this same strain of unearned success. "Hunter Biden got $50K a month from a Ukrainian energy company, despite having ZERO experience in energy," tweeted Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel on Tuesday. "If that's not the swamp, I don't know what is!" McDaniel, of course, worked for the 2012 presidential campaign of her uncle Mitt Romney, now a Utah senator, and is the granddaughter of former Michigan governor George Romney. According to Bloomberg, McDaniel's predecessor, Reince Priebus, took home almost $500,000 in salary, bonuses, and benefits from the RNC during his final year in that position.
Following Hunter Biden's interview, The View co-host Meghan McCain critiqued as insufficient his admission that he exercised "poor judgment" in taking the Ukraine position. "Part of the problem is he also said, 'I probably wouldn't have gotten this job if I weren't a Biden,'" she explained. McCain rose to national prominence during the 2008 presidential campaign of her father, Arizona senator John McCain, for whom she wrote regular blog posts in an effort to appeal to younger voters."Turns out that a McCain did emerge from the 2008 election victorious," Politico wrote in April 2009, noting her budding journalism career, sizable social media following, frequent talk show appearances, and six-figure book deal.
In an interview on MSNBC, Kentucky senator Rand Paul called for the ongoing law enforcement investigation into Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine dealings by calling for a parallel investigation of Hunter's, too—"if you want to be fair," he explained. Rand Paul is the son of former Texas congressman and perennial presidential candidate Ron Paul; before jumping into politics, the younger Paul was a practicing ophthalmologist. When host Stephanie Ruhle asked Paul if the same principle meant that officials should investigate the many ways in which Trump's children have profited off the presidency, Paul replied, "If we want to go down the road of politics of self-destruction, of everybody criminalizing all politicians on both sides of the aisle and go after their families, we can do that."
Ruhle's reference was to the president's most zealous advocates of all, his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who in recent days have criticized Hunter's conduct as a "clear conflict of interest" and "insane," respectively. Today, the two men are the heads of an international real estate development company and superstars in the right-wing universe thanks entirely to the fact that their father is Donald Trump. For the same reason, their sister Ivanka and brother-in-law Jared Kushner, a fashion designer and an heir to a different real estate empire, are now senior advisors to the President of the United States. When it comes to placing unqualified people in positions of enormous influence, the first family is second to none.
Hunter Biden's critics aside, the upper echelon of American politics is full of people whose lives are proof of the enduring importance of favoritism and partiality in ensuring that sons and daughters live up to their parents' lofty legacies. The mother of Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch, Anne, was the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Reagan administration; the current Secretary of Labor, Eugene Scalia, is the son of the man Justice Gorsuch replaced on the Supreme Court. Twelve years after George H.W. Bush was elected president, his son, George W. Bush, also won the White House. As the inter- and intra-generational Kennedy and Clinton political dynasties demonstrate, this dynamic is hardly partisan. Hunter Biden did get a job for which he had no real relevant experience.
Troubling and antidemocratic though it may be, however, this dynamic is also unrelated to whether President Trump committed an impeachable offense by conditioning Ukraine's receipt of foreign aid on an investigation of his political opponent. Yet as long as Ronna McDaniel and Rand Paul and company are publicly bemoaning the scourge of preferential treatment in public life, they don't have to answer far more difficult questions about whether their party's leader committed high crimes and misdemeanors. Hypocrisy and all, that is evidently a tradeoff they're willing to make.
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All he ever wanted was to make his dad proud, but things have never turned out quite right for Donald Trump Jr. Even now, despite finding his purpose as a bombastic star of the far right, Junior’s personal life is in shambles and the specter of Robert Mueller looms large. As Julia Ioffe discovers in talking to old friends and Trump World insiders, it’s never been trickier to be the president’s son.
No one knows a “clear conflict of interest” when they see it better than the president's children.
Originally Appeared on GQ