March 4, 2024

Mike Johnson accidentally revealed just how weak the Republican impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden is, when he failed to actually defend one of the central accusations against the president on the merits.

Johnson held a Tuesday press conference with Representatives Jim Jordan and James Comer, who have spearheaded the investigation into Biden, to discuss the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Although Republicans have been levying various accusations against Biden for the past few months, making multiple allegations of political corruption, they have yet to produce any actual evidence demonstrating that their charges have merit.

One matter that Republicans have repeatedly harped on is their claim that Biden, while serving as vice president, said the U.S. would withhold aid money to Ukraine unless Kyiv fired Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Republicans allege that Shokin had been investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian oil company for which Biden’s son Hunter served as a board member. This claim has been repeatedly debunked by U.S. intelligence, the former Ukrainian president, and the owner of Burisma.

During Wednesday’s press conference, HuffPost reporter Arthur Delaney asked Johnson why the GOP continues to bring up Shokin’s firing. Delaney pointed out that during Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, “a lot of State Department officials …came in and said, ‘This wasn’t Joe Biden’s policy, this was our policy. He didn’t do this to benefit his son, he did this because we wanted him to do it.’”

U.S. foreign aid is often given on the condition that the receiving country takes an official action that Washington considers important. In Ukraine, it was eliminating corruption in the government.

“So did they all commit perjury, or are you going to bring them back for more interviews?” Delaney asked. “Why are Republicans just ignoring all that testimony?”

“No one’s ignoring testimony,” Johnson said brusquely, before pivoting to listing foreign payments that the Bidens received.

Johnson also told Delaney he was “not going to answer outside questions about this,” despite the testimony clearly being directly relevant to a central pillar of the current impeachment inquiry.

Shokin was fired in 2016 for corruption. Three years later, Trump and Rudy Giuliani started a conspiracy theory that the Biden family accepted a $10 million bribe to remove Shokin to stop a probe into Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma. This claim has been repeatedly debunked by the owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.