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Can You Spot the Difference Between the Menendez & Biden Foreign Influence Scandals?


Can You Spot the Difference Between the Menendez and Biden Foreign Influence Scandals?


The two stories are far more alike than the media wants to admit.


September 26, 2023: There are two major corruption scandals consuming Washington at the moment that involve the relatives of Democratic politicians taking bribes from foreign governments. Here’s a pop quiz – I’ve stripped away the identifying details, see if you can tell me which one is which:

In late 2018, an accident left REDACTED without a car, the indictment says. One of the businesspeople allegedly stepped in in April 2019 to help her buy a Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible, at one point texting an associate to request $15,000 in cash. The following day, the businessperson met REDACTED in a restaurant parking lot and handed REDACTED “approximately $15,000 in cash” … REDACTED bought the car for about $60,000 the next day and [the associate] made at least six monthly payments on the loan, prosecutors contend.

VS:

Prosecutors have also asked about paperwork REDACTED used to purchase a car through funds from REDACTED, according to people familiar with the matter. In April 2014, a business associate of REDACTED from REDACTED wired $142,300 to REDACTED, according to bank statements reviewed by The Wall Street Journal … the documents show … they were earmarked in a bank record as “For a Car.”

So the first excerpt is from a Politico story on Bob Menendez detailing how his wife exploited his foreign connections for goods such as a new Mercedes, and the second is a Wall Street Journal report about Hunter Biden. Of course, astute readers will notice that I left in a pretty big tell; the first excerpt mentions an indictment, and so far, Hunter Biden has only just recently been indicted for lying on a form to purchase a gun – not on any charges related to what was a pretty blatant foreign influence operation his father was actively participating in.


Despite the fact that the details are shockingly similar, you will note that the media has decided that some political corruption scandals are more equal than others. In fact, it’s astonishing how the media continue to run interference for the Bidens while reveling in the Menendez story. Two weeks ago, CNN ran an astonishing piece that simultaneously confirmed nearly all the damning details about the Biden corruption scandal, while implausibly insisting that President Biden is in no way connected to his son’s malfeasance: “Fact-checking McCarthy’s claims while launching Biden impeachment inquiry.” A number of astute people noted how CNN was credulous to the point of absurdity, but near as I can tell, no one has yet noted that CNN’s “fact check” needs… a fact check.


“On the allegation that these dinners with Joe Biden ‘resulted in cars,’ [Hunter Biden business partner Devon] Archer said the businessman Rakishev wired Hunter Biden the exact amount of money that Hunter used to buy a Porsche. This car has nothing to do with Joe Biden,” notes CNN.


To start, the $142,300 wasn’t used to buy a Porsche – it was used to buy a Fisker Karma, an EV sports car made by an automotive start-up that got $192 million in loans from the Department of Energy to, among other things, take over an abandoned General Motors factory in Wilmington, Delaware, which is coincidentally the Bidens’ hometown. Fisker defaulted on those massive loans, costing American taxpayers $132 million, and Hunter later traded the Karma for a Porsche. Funny how strict accuracy here is much more damning for the Bidens. It’s almost as if the media are choosing to be willfully ignorant because the truth is indefensible.


As for the contention that “this car has nothing to do with Joe Biden,” it’s worth noting that the Kazakh banker who loaned Hunter the money for this car, Kenges Rakishev, had dinner with Joe and Hunter Biden at a Georgetown restaurant a year later. Funny how CNN neglects to mention that salient detail, but they will say with unearned certainty that buying the president’s son an expensive sports car “has nothing to do with Joe Biden.” This is the very same Joe Biden who, when running for president, repeatedly issued dishonest blanket denials such as, “I’ve never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”


Aside from the situation with the cars, there are other details that invite comparisons. A lot has been made of the fact that Menendez was getting paid in gold bars, which is being treated as corrupt to the point of comical. Yet, when The New Yorker reported four years ago that a Chinese tycoon with ties to the country’s ruling communist party dropped off an envelope at his hotel room with a three-carat diamond worth $80,000 — a detail we only know about, not because he was being indicted by the feds, but because it came out in Hunter Biden’s divorce proceedings — this detail was met with a collective yawn by the Washington press.


Of course, both stories are complicated enough that they’re not perfect analogs. Certainly, the financial arrangement between a husband and a wife is more immediately connected than that of a father and his adult son. But the details in both stories — fancy cars, gold, and diamonds being handed out by foreign oligarchs — are so unsubtle in telegraphing corruption. It’s just plain odd that in only one case the familial connection is being dismissed outright by the media.


The Washington Post’s Philip Bump attracted some much-deserved derision for insisting he has “no idea what that means” when he was asked on a podcast to explain Hunter’s text saying, “Unlike Pop I won’t make you give me half your salary.” Bump eventually walked off the podcast, rather than continue to mount his laughable defense of Joe Biden being uninvolved in his son’s corruption.


Everything about the media’s Menendez coverage suggests double standards. “For purposes of the Federal Extortion Act, it makes no difference if the senator took an official act so long as he accepted the money and there was knowledge the money was in exchange for that official influence, even if he never carried out what he had promised he would do,” NBC Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos, said Friday about the Menendez indictment.


And yet, is the media capable of honestly applying this same standard to Biden? Are we supposed to believe Hunter Biden was being given cars and diamonds, in addition to being wired millions through shell companies, and yet there was definitively no quid pro quo, because his influential father had no knowledge of this?


Well, that’s what the corporate media in the country are telling us — and they’re not being honest.


Mark Hemingway is the Book Editor at The Federalist, and was formerly a senior writer at The Weekly Standard. Follow him on Twitter at @heminator


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