When Trump was impeached, the big issue was that he wanted to get dirt on his political opponent. He wanted dirt on Joe Biden's son and how he worked with an oil company and wanted to accuse Biden of nepotism. This was regarded by Democrats as unethical behavior.

This is not about the fallout. But, what was the point of trying to get dirt on Hunter Biden if the Mueller report, for example, didn't change enough minds to mean anything?

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    Comments deleted. Please don't use comments to post low-quality answers. If you would like to answer the question, post a real answer. – Philipp Oct 16 '20 at 16:39
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    What do you consider "not enough minds to mean anything"? In a survey of registered voters, 24% said the Mueller report changed their opinion of Trump. That doesn't sound like a whole lot, but consider that only 29% of the 2016 voting eligible population voted for Trump. Changing the minds of even just a few percent of voters in swing states can have an enormous effect on the final result. – Nuclear Hoagie Oct 16 '20 at 17:50
  • Could you address the difference between the point of trying, and the result or outcome? I do not suggest anyone in your scenario is, was or ever might be guilty of anything. Still, how does your Question not suggest no-one should ever be prosecuted? – Robbie Goodwin Oct 17 '20 at 23:47

Trump arguably won the 2016 election because of James Comey's last-minute, pre-election assertion that he might reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton. That had dramatic fallout in social media, and Clinton never effectively addressed it before the election; in my estimation it cost her enough votes to shift the tide.

Hunter Biden and Burisma is "Hillary's emails" redux; the Trump campaign hopes it will have the same social media reaction and voter drain against Biden that happened against Hillary in 2016. My sense is it won't, for a number of reasons:

  • The timing is off, and the issue is stale: Burisma has been in the public consciousness for so long that no one is likely to be shocked or surprised
  • The Biden campaign is prepared for the gambit, having much more experience with Trump than Clinton did
  • No one in Trump's orbit has the public credibility that Comey had — Trump has surrounded himself with partisans, and everyone is aware — and that decreases the impact

But Trump has never had a problem throwing things at the wall to see what sticks; from his perspective it worked before, so it's worth trying again.

  • @CGCampbell: Yes, I could, and so could you with a few moments effort. I don't happen to think sourcing is essential here — this all falls roughly under the categories of common knowledge and common sense — but if you think it would be an improvement, feel free to find some and add them in as a suggested edit. – Ted Wrigley Oct 27 '20 at 14:07

Your assumption:

When Trump was impeached, the big issue was that he wanted to get dirt on his political opponent. He wanted dirt on Joe Biden's son and how he worked with an oil company and wanted to accuse Biden of nepotism.

That's really not why Trump got impeached.

First of all, everybody collects dirt on their political rivals - nothing illegal about that. If Trump wanted to hire someone to dig up dirt on Joe, that's not an issue. Alternative if Trump wanted to "serve justice" on Hunter and Joe Biden for corruption, President Trump could have had the US Justice Department investigate and prosecute them on whatever evidence they could find. In such a scenario, the Justice Dept. could have enlisted the State Dept. for cooperation from Ukraine.

Trump got impeached because he tried to engineer a foreign investigation of the Bidens, one devoid of his own fingerprints - and more specifically, for using the powers of the Presidency to coerce Ukraine into the investigation. The Democrats impeached Trump for "abuse of power", saying that coercion of Ukraine by the President in this way primarily benefited Trump, not the United States. Using the powers of your office for personal benefit is a definition of "abuse of power". Impeachment was cited by the founding fathers as a remedy for several specific offenses; abuse of power was one cited by Alexander Hamilton.

Secondly, Trump was impeached for obstruction of Congress. According to one commentator:

The White House refused to provide documents to congressional investigators, and instructed top advisers and government officials to defy subpoenas and refuse to testify. https://twitter.com/colinhanks/status/1223437831302828032

This was a step that not even Richard Nixon tried.

Your question:

what was the point of trying to get dirt on Hunter Biden if the Mueller report, for example, didn't change enough minds to mean anything?

Having a foreign government condemn Joe Biden for corruption could have been portrayed as a politically unbiased indictment of the Bidens, thus being politically more damaging. If the timing of such a disclosure could have been controlled, it could have cast a huge shadow over the 2020 election, and allowed President Trump an easier path to reelection by making his perspective rival unelectable in many voters' eyes.

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    It's not even clear that he was trying to engineer a real foreign investigation; the ask was specifically for an announcement of one. – Charles Duffy Oct 17 '20 at 21:02
  • Yeah but if Biden becomes unelectable, it's not like there are any other choices? So in this case, is the point moot, as it just becomes Trump vs. Harris? I'm convinced a democratic voter will go for anyone other than Trump, so I'm just arguing that maybe Biden becoming unelectable just shifts his votes over to another person, not to Trump. – Dan Chase Oct 19 '20 at 19:41
  • @CharlesDuffy Trump withheld a $400 million dollar military aid packaged to the Ukraine a country at war, in an attempt to coerce them. I disagree with your characterization of what he was after, but ultimately it doesn't matter. Campaign folks aren't even allowed to make political phone calls in the west wing offices. They certainly aren't permitted to use the powers of their office to engineer hatchet jobs on their political rivals, regardless of what form they take. – user20338 Oct 19 '20 at 19:50
  • @JMS, ...of course. Did any part of my comment contradict that? As for the announcement-vs-investigation, btw, my primary source for analysis when was I was following this closely was Preet Bharara. DanChase, ...remember, the first effort to engineer this particular scandal was while the primaries was still running; presumably, the hope was for a less-electable opponent to win. – Charles Duffy Oct 20 '20 at 0:13

The primary point of controversy involving Hunter Biden was not about nepotism in the usual sense of the word. Instead, it might be more accurate to describe it as a question of influence peddling, and the appearance of conflict of interest.

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    This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the actual question asked. – Shadur Oct 17 '20 at 11:25
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    @Shadur Having the American people know that a candidate for POTUS sells his influence to the highest bidder is reason enough for anyone who has taken an oath of office to unmask such dealings. – paulj Oct 19 '20 at 13:07
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    @paulj Are you trying to say that if an elected official has a meeting with Chinese government officials and shortly after their child registers a whole slew of new patents in China, this inflience peddling should be investigated and unmasked? Asking for a friend. – Shadur Oct 19 '20 at 13:18

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