US President- elect Donald Trump stands with his children Ivanka and Donald Jr., during Trump's press conference at Trump Tower in New York on January 11,...
TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Trump family business complicates attacks against Biden

The Republican effort to create a scandal surrounding Joe Biden has already been discredited. The allegation is that the former vice president urged Ukraine to fire an inept prosecutor because the official was investigating a company tied to Biden’s son. We already know that’s not what happened.

The company in question wasn’t the actual target of the Ukrainian probe, and the former vice president’s efforts received international praise because he helped replace an ineffective prosecutor with a better one – something Biden wouldn’t have done if he were trying to shield corruption from scrutiny.

For that matter, the better prosecutor agreed that the Bidens didn’t do anything wrong.

But Republicans are giving this a try anyway, though as this exchange between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and CNN’s Jake Tapper helped demonstrate yesterday, Team Trump may want to consider some new talking points.

MNUCHIN: What I do find inappropriate is the fact that Vice President Biden at the time’s son did very significant business dealings in Ukraine. I, for one, find that to be concerning. And, to me, that is the issue perhaps that should be further investigated.

TAPPER: I don’t understand. So it is OK for Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump Jr. to do business all over the world, it’s OK for Ivanka Trump to have copyrights approved all over the world while President Trump is president, but while Vice President Joe Biden was vice president, his son shouldn’t have been able to do business dealings?

MNUCHIN: Again, I don’t really want to go into more of these details…

Well, no, I suppose not. If I were in Mnuchin’s shoes, and I knew Donald Trump was watching, I probably wouldn’t want to “go into more of these details,” either.

The Treasury secretary’s clumsiness notwithstanding, it’s going to be difficult for the White House and its allies to work around this one.

Yesterday, the president himself complicated matters just a bit more.

During a brief Q&A with reporters at the White House yesterday, Trump made it seem as if it were a foregone conclusion that Biden spoke to his son about his dealings in Ukraine. “I mean, give me a break,” the Republican said, adding, “Who wouldn’t speak to your son? Of course, you spoke to your son.”

Oh? Is that so? Because I seem to recall an incident from 2016 in which Donald Trump Jr. participated in a meeting with Russian emissaries in order to acquire foreign intelligence to help win an American election. Donald Trump Sr. said he never spoke to his son about the meeting.

“I mean, give me a break,” one might be tempted to tell the president. “Who wouldn’t speak to your son? Of course, you spoke to your son.”