Trump keeps stepping on the GOP's so-called bombshells

House Republicans are out with a new report on President Biden's alleged corruption — but it's buried by Trump news

By Heather Digby Parton


Published October 23, 2023 9:19AM (EDT)

Donald Trump | Jim Jordan | Mar A Lago (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump | Jim Jordan | Mar A Lago (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

The media has been so overwhelmed with news of the war in Israel and the trainwreck happening in slow motion in the House of Representatives that a lot of stories that would have normally received front-page treatment have been relegated to the back burner. When the news is emanating from the right-wing media, that's actually a good thing since it's almost never truly newsworthy and almost always a form of MAGA propaganda. A case in point is a breathless report released last Friday by the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Kentucky Rep. James Comer, announcing that Republicans have found evidence that President Joe Biden's brother paid him $200,000 in 2017, which is supposed to prove that the Bidens were part of some kind of criminal scheme. 

Upon examination, however, one can see that the check was marked as a repayment of a loan Joe Biden made to his brother a couple of months before, not a payoff of some sort. And furthermore, it was during the time that Joe Biden was completely out of office and hadn't even decided if he was going to run — three years later. Yet Republicans found this check and immediately started running around in circles shrieking "smoking gun! smoking gun!" 

Their reasoning is this: the repayment was sent on the day James Biden received a check for the same amount from a healthcare company (which later went bankrupt) that he had allegedly promised to get some investment from the Middle East due to his political connections. If that's true, then Biden's brother was influence peddling, just as Hunter Biden did in his various schemes. But there's nothing illegal in these people trading on their names no matter how slimy the practice. And it's certainly not confined to Biden's relatives or even just Democrats. Recall the activities of former President George H.W. Bush and his son Neil who parlayed their political contacts into big bucks from all over the world. Or Jared Kushner. 

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Going back to the beginning of the republic, relatives of powerful politicians in America have made a bundle promising that they have special access and special interests giving them money based upon that promise. It's a shady business but unless there is some reason to believe that there is some reciprocation by a politician or some other benefit is exchanged it's usually just a lucrative game of perceptions, not unlike lobbying which, I would argue, is actually much more corrupt since the money is most often given right out in the open to the campaigns of the people they are trying to influence. Half of Washington, in both parties, is involved in that unseemly business. (And, once again, there is no evidence Joe Biden was personally involved in any of his son's or brothers' businesses.)

On Friday, Chairman Comer excitedly tweeted, "A document that we're releasing today raises new questions about how President Biden personally benefited from his family's shady influence peddling of his name and their access to him." The whole right-wing mediaverse went crazy with the usual suspects like Lauren Bobert tweeting, "Yesterday, the Oversight Committee unveiled a $200,000 check James Biden wrote to his brother on the same day he received a loan from a failing company. And it was even more than 10% for the Big Guy this time." 

After Democrats pushed back, Comer tweeted a video hedging his accusations just a little bit, saying "even if this was a personal loan repayment, it's still troubling that Joe Biden's ability to be paid back by his brother depended on the success of his family's shady financial dealings." Think about that. There's no evidence that Joe Biden knew anything about his brother's deal. All we know is that he loaned him some money and it was paid back. There's nothing "troubling" about any of that. Not to mention the fact that Joe Biden was a private citizen who didn't hold any office at the time. 

If you want "troubling," how about the latest revelations about the man James Comer and virtually the entire Republican caucus in Congress is supporting for president, Donald Trump? You'll recall a couple of weeks ago that it was reported Trump had shot his mouth off to a foreign businessman about the United States' nuclear submarine capabilities. Considering his sloppiness with all the classified documents he stole from the White House, this was hardly surprising. As president, he'd been known to share classified information with people who had no business getting it, putting allies and sources in danger in the process. He never cared. He never stopped. 

This man, an Australian billionaire by the name of Anthony Pratt, had Trump's number from the moment he became president and while he was unable to donate money to his campaign because he was a foreign national he saw a much more direct way to influence Trump: joining Mar-a-Lago. Pratt spent time there with Trump whenever he could. Trump liked him very much, especially when he did things like spend a million dollars for New Year's Eve party tickets that were sold to everyone else for $50,000. 

And Trump just loved to dish about national security with this big spender, telling him that he ordered the bombing of an Iraqi city before it had been reported and sharing that when the president of Iraq called to complain he said, "What are you going to do about it?" He claimed that his dealings with the Ukrainian president in the "perfect phone call" were nothing compared to what he usually did with foreign leaders. One shudders to think what he meant by that. 

All of this was reported in a big story in the NY Times on Sunday which was followed up by an Australian 60 Minutes report that has Pratt on tape discussing all of this. He considered Trump a sharp operator who "ran his business like the Mafia." 

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 As the Times reported:

Mr. Pratt was hardly the only favor seeker circling Mar-a-Lago, which became the fulcrum of the president’s two overlapping worlds, and a marketplace of sorts where favors, secrets and opportunities to lobby the president over clubhouse burgers were treated as currency. But Mr. Pratt, who rode in Mr. Trump’s motorcade and attended a White House state dinner, played the game better than most.

According to the Times, Pratt also made out like a bandit saving over $2 billion in taxes due to the 2017 tax cuts and dined out on America's national security secrets for years. This is just one of dozens of examples of Donald Trump getting paid directly by people seeking access and influence by spending vast sums of money at his properties and getting exactly what they paid for —- while Trump was the president of the United States. He is the most corrupt president in American history, blatantly selling access to rich people, foreign and domestic and these "drain the swamp" Republicans, howling about Joe Biden's brother paying back a loan, can't wait to put him back in the White House. 

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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Biden Comer Commentary House Oversight Committee Mar-a-lago Pratt