Republicans Plan to Declare Trump’s Entire Business Model a High Crime and Misdemeanor

The Republicans have decided that the perfect time to kick off an impeachment is just before their own incompetence leads to a government shutdown, which will lead to millions of government workers and service members either getting laid off, or working without pay, will strain food support for poor families and limit food inspections, and will result in holdups for people traveling by air.

The GOP really does plan to launch a no-evidence impeachment while Rome burns.

Yesterday, House Ways and Means released another document dump from purported whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler. I’m wading through those now, but even a cursory review shows that Shapley makes claims that go beyond what his colleagues backed, at times delving into bad faith.

In advance of a hearing featuring Fox News pundit Jonathan Turley, Republicans released their justification for an impeachment inquiry.

It is nothing short of batshit insane.

That’s true, first of all, because they plan to impeach Joe Biden for actions his son took while Joe wasn’t even in government. One of their latest new fetishes is that in 2019, Hunter Biden used his father’s address as a permanent address and got legal financial transfers at it.

Again, much of this impeachment is about Joe Biden being a Dad.

Crazier still, the premise of this impeachment is that Hunter Biden traded on the family brand and he and his associates (including James Biden, but also a bunch of people who made far more money) made a paltry $24 million by doing so.

In other words, just days after a judge ruled that Trump and two of his sons had wildly inflated his own value — including by adding a brand premium to his properties!!! — continuing into the years he was President, Republicans want to impeach Joe Biden because business interests Joe Biden wasn’t part of tried to do that on a far, far smaller scale.

Republicans are impeaching Joe Biden because his son had business interests with a Chinese company, the most salacious interactions of which occurred the year after the Obama Administration, even though Trump’s own daughter benefited from her own family’s brand and her nepotistic job in the White House to obtain trademarks from the government of China during some of the same years.

The Chinese government granted 18 trademarks to companies linked to President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump over the last two months, Chinese public records show, raising concerns about conflicts of interest in the White House.

In October, China’s Trademark Office granted provisional approval for 16 trademarks to Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, bringing to 34 the total number of marks China has greenlighted this year, according to the office’s online database. The new approvals cover Ivanka-branded fashion gear including sunglasses, handbags, shoes and jewelry, as well as beauty services and voting machines.

The approvals came three months after Ivanka Trump announced she was dissolving her namesake brand to focus on government work.

China also granted provisional approval for two “Trump” trademarks to DTTM Operations LLC, headquartered at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York. They cover branded restaurant, bar and hotel services, as well as clothing and shoes.

And Trump’s own tax returns — released after a years-long fight — revealed that in the same year Republicans are obsessing about Hunter over, 2017, Trump’s company made $17.5 million in China, far more than Hunter made personally during this entire period.

Mr. Trump’s plans in China have been largely driven by a different company, Trump International Hotels Management — the one with a Chinese bank account.

The company has direct ownership of THC China Development, but is also involved in management of other Trump-branded properties around the world, and it is not possible to discern from its tax records how much of its financial activity is China-related. It normally reports a few million dollars in annual income and deductible expenses.

In 2017, the company reported an unusually large spike in revenue — some $17.5 million, more than the previous five years’ combined. It was accompanied by a $15.1 million withdrawal by Mr. Trump from the company’s capital account.

Republicans want to make the bread and butter of Trump’s corporate existence a High Crime and Misdemeanor.

Democrats should use this opportunity to show that Trump is the one who should have been under a five year tax investigation, Trump is the one who should be impeached for using his position in the White House to enrich himself, his daughter, and her spouse.

In an interview after yesterday’s House Ways and Means roll out, Richard Neal raised several problems with the impeachment inquiry. Notably, Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith — who was humiliated at his own press conference yesterday — has never made a 6103 request to the IRS to officially release these documents, as Neal himself did in the protracted effort to get Trump’s tax returns. It’s not clear any of this — especially Shapley and Ziegler going back to get files from IRS servers after they have been removed from the investigation — is legal.

As families face severe financial crisis because of Republican incompetence, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, James Comer, and the recently-humiliated Jason Smith are going to pursue an impeachment premised on the notion that Trump’s entire business model is a High Crime and Misdemeanor.

47 replies
  1. Greg_28SEP2023_0522h says:

    It has always been clear to me that the Biden impeachment and all of the Hunter stuff is really about inoculating the Trumps. If they are investigating the Bidens, then any investigation of the Trumps looks like tit-for-tat.

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  2. biff murphy says:

    I watched the question period for recently humiliated Rep. Smith’s presser and noted it was blown up by by an NBC reporter trying to hold Smith’s feet to the fire, with him finally asking
    “Who do you work for”
    the reply was
    and then…
    “Oh you’d never believe us anyway. Next question”

    Can’t argue with that kind of logic.

    • Bugboy321 says:

      “Who do you work for”
      the reply was

      JFC they don’t make ’em like they used to. The proper answer to that would be “I’m asking the questions”…

    • Snowdog of the North says:

      And apparently the offending question had to do with asking Smith what the very first piece of evidence he presented had to do with this, because that “What’s App” occurred before Biden was even a candidate for President. Needless to say, Smith had no answer for that.

      Good for Nobles for paying attention and asking the right questions.

  3. Mike from Delaware says:

    Thank you Marcy and the Moderating team for this site. I’ve learned so much from you and many who comment on this blog. It’s an oasis in a land of clickbait and overtly partisan news.

    While reading your post I could feel your exasperation, or perhaps I’m projecting, because that’s how I feel. I’m frustrated that the incompetents you listed aren’t challenged on their lies and hypocrisy. Instead, their bullshit is packaged up and served up to the American people by the much of press. The planet and this country face many significant challenges, but so much time is wasted on this side show. Sadly, that’s the point.

    Thanks again.

  4. Becker0313 says:

    I may be wrong Dr. Wheeler but should it read 6103 in the second to last paragraph as that’s the way Neal refers to them is his interview?

  5. Harry Eagar says:

    Wait! What? There’s an Ivanka Trump-branded voting machine?

    Almost nothing seems beyond belief, but I am having trouble with that.

    Marcy, †ell me that was a joke and you were just testing to see if we are reading closely.

    • Rayne says:

      Harry, slow down and do your own homework. They make this thing called a search engine which allows you to do your own verification rather than demanding others do your work for you.

      This is a lagniappe but in the future bring a better game:

      China grants 18 trademarks in 2 months to Trump, daughter
      By ERIKA KINETZ-AP Published 9:30 PM EDT, November 6, 2018

      • ernesto1581 says:

        I don’t know if now is the time to go down this particular rabbit hole, but there was an executive order drafted 16 December 2020 which would have ordered the Secretary of Defense to “…seize, collect, retain and analyze…” voting equipment and electronic records. I’m pretty sure this draft has been discussed here before. (Who drafted it — Powell, Flynn, Newman?)

        Would anyone seriously suggest that, assuming that seizure had been executed and the stratagem been successful, Ivanka’s (Chinese built?) voting machines would have been available to fill the vacuum? I mean, who trademarks voting machines, along with clothing, jewelry and perfume, anyway??

        • nord dakota says:

          I always wondered what an Ivanka-branded voting machine would look like–in pale shell pink perhaps? I thought there were coffins as well but that might be a hallucination on my part. Always wondered that nobody ever asked her why voting machines.\

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        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Presumably, Trump would have directed that EO to the SecDef in the belief that his authority as Commander-in-Chief would have been the hardest to contest.

          But that draft EO, if finalized and issued to the SecDef, would have been heavily litigated and almost certainly found to be an illegal order and without adequate legal foundation.

        • ernesto1581 says:

          yes, if he had not been somehow dissuaded from issuing that or a similar EO in the first place.
          so what’s with the bespoke voting machines? too weird.

        • gruntfuttock says:

          ‘who trademarks voting machines’?

          If anyone would, I bet the Donald would: he’d trademark anything that would make him money and power and would probably love some yuge golden voting machines with his logo on the top in big gold letters around which his cultists could gather in worship. They’d hold their own elections which would be so much better than everyone else’s fake and rigged elections.

          The machines would, of course, ask you to make a donation before voting, or after, or, more likely, both ;-)

      • Harry Eagar says:

        Well. now, I was merely jesting, but Mr. Bing leas me to Snopes, which says that she also took protection for nursing homes and sausage casings.

        This makes the situation more, not less weird.

        • we're not in kansas anymore says:

          She probably just assumed that her father was going to get a lot of people killed, one way or another.

        • Rayne says:

          She’s not particularly bright. More likely her father *told her* a lot of people were going to die for various reasons including plain old entropy having its way with elderly MAGA and therefore she should pursue branding on death.

        • theartistvvv says:

          It may be that there is already a prototype Ivanka coffin …

          at least, looking at Jared makes me think so.

          Kinda like, *The Hunger*.

    • JimmyAnderson says:

      Thanks for that.
      In this interview, Ryan Noble seems to suggest that the Committee will soon have actual personal bank records of President Biden, James Biden, Hunter Biden.
      But will the impeachment enquiry committee actually have subpoena power for this private information without a house vote?

      • vigetnovus says:

        Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t matter if it’s “legal”. The issue is that the OLC opinion says that DOJ will only recognize a congressional subpoena as valid if there had been an official house vote to open an inquiry. This policy was made after the first Trump impeachment. I am sure when DOJ declines to enforce any subpoenas there will be hue and cry about differing standards, etc, which will likely mean that Congressional subpoenas will no longer mean anything.

    • klynn says:

      Ryan sounds like he may be an Emptywheel fan!

      “…I’ve been particularly obsessed when it comes to this idea of the timeline…”

  6. Rugger_9 says:

    We’ll see how quickly this falls apart. It will be interesting to see how fast the GOP moves to secret hearings (saying the Ds did the same thing for Defendant-1’s impeachment inquiry) and proceed to lie about what was testified in them to keep this story simmering along. Public hearings will blow up the whole thing if the GOP presser performance is any guide.

    As for Shapley and J. Ziegler already being sued by Hunter Biden, their new ‘testimony’ with as many holes as it apparently has will be an absolute gift to Lowell and the rest of Biden’s team. Not only will the team be able to go after these two lowlifes, but it’s also pretty clear that the whole GOP case under color of authority of SC Weiss is about to lose some more evidence they would otherwise be able to use.

    I think the Ds will doubtless point out the TrumpOrg crimes, Ivanka’s sweet deals and the fact those peccadillos are not yet time-barred by a statute of limitations. Concerns about the tit-for-tat are misplaced since the current impeachment snipe hunt already fits that description.

    • CaptainCondorcet says:

      If the testimony of Jonathan “there’s no there there, but you’re constitutionally allowed to pretend there might be” Turley is any indication, it appears it already is falling apart.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      They did that a lot with Benghazi too; in-camera hearings and then the GOP members would come out and spin bullshit, knowing that, in the absence of transcripts being released, nobody could easily call them on it, so the whole things devolves in a both-sides show.

    • Dark Phoenix says:

      That’s what they were hoping to do with Devlin Archer’s testimony; note that they all walked out or didn’t show up, but they still make references to it… And today, after making repeated references to Archer’s testimony, Rep. Goldman asked to have the transcript itself entered as evidence, and Jim Jordan kept saying no. No, he doesn’t want the actual transcript of the testimony the Republicans keep referring to entered in the official record (probably because outside of their cherrypicked two sentences, it’s the exact opposite of what the Repubs say it is).

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Day One did not disappoint. Given how much in disarray the GOP was, I give it a week before it goes behind closed doors.

  7. Upisdown says:

    There are some very interesting documents that are part of the committee’s dump.

    First is the Tony Bobulinski FBI interview. He wanted the agents to take some Hunter Biden info off his phone and blackberries, but he did not allow the agents to take and copy the devices because he was afraid that some of his personal info might get made public. What hypocrisy. Lots of other background about his ties to Gilliar.

    The really eye-opening transcript is 214 pager of Rob Walker being interviewed by an FBI agent and an IRS agent. I’ve only looked at the first half so far, but Walker makes clear that Bobulinski was a jerk, and that Gilliar and Bobulinski had ties to a recently sanctioned Russian oligarch named Viktor Vexelberg.

    Good stuff in that doc dump. Lots or reading.

  8. Matt Foley says:


    Fox News Brian KILMEADE: Is that why Shokin got fired, because of the billion dollars and the former vice president, now president?

    POROSHENKO (GUEST): First of all, this is the completely crazy person. This is something wrong with him. Second, there is no one single word of truth. And third, I hate the idea to make any comments and to make any intervention in the American election.

  9. SelaSela says:

    Semi-OT: speaking of the shutdown, my family is one of those families facing severe financial crisis. My wife is a federal employee. I work as a contractor/consultant for a project funded by the US Congress. If we’re headed for a shutdown, which seem to be highly likely, both of us won’t get paid for a while. My wife would eventually get paid retroactively, but since I’m a contractor and not an employee, I am just not allowed to put any hours while government is shut down, and I’ll never get paid for this time. I have some savings, so we’ll manage if the shutdown ends in a month or so. But others who are less well-off than us could really struggle.

    And it’s all because of a group of 10 republican terrorists who hold the government hostage to their stupid political power plays and unreasonable demands, and their party of fail to reign them in. And of course, there is Trump in the background, giving them headwind, while trying to push his demand for defunding Jack Smith.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      How comprehensive is this prohibition about working during the suspension? That’s not an aspect that I had heard of before and my children have lived through a couple of shutdowns.

      • Eschscholzia says:

        tl;dr: how screwed individual contractors are varies by agency, contracting vehicle, and contracting entity, but some combinations have engineered in ways to minimize impacts on contractors that did not exist in 2013 or 2018/2019.

        I’m a Fed who works with various kinds of contractors, ranging from huge Federal Prime Contractors like the Alaska Native Owned Corporations to 2-10 person wildlife consulting shops to individual hourly-billed professional services. Any of those entities might have enough non-federal contracts (e.g., state or corporate) that their contractors with generic technical skills can switch to working on non-Federal contracts during the shutdown.

        Large and medium sized contracting shops may include things like annual safety or security training as part of indirect costs, because individual contractors only need it once a year even if they work on several short-term contracts that year. My colleagues contracted through an agreement (paying for effort) to a non-profit NGO will be doing all of their annual training & certification to cover at least a few weeks of shutdown with salary coming out of that overhead. [In the previous 2 shutdowns they were screwed, and Feds chipped in parts of our back pay to share with those contractors who are federal staff in everything but name.]

        For project contracts paying flat bid price upon receipt of deliverables, the contractors can continue to work on things like planning, data management, analysis, & report-writing during the shutdown. What they cannot do is set foot on federal property to conduct fieldwork. It isn’t at all clear if deadlines for deliverables can be extended because of a shutdown.

        But, individual professional service consultants & contractors billing by the hour, and even those working through medium & large firms providing hourly staffing, who have project-specific skills, have few if any options, as SelaSela and Bobster indicate. I’m glad that Bobster has a 30 day window to wrap up work; my friends in that boat get the same 2 or 4 hours on Monday to sign furlough paperwork and shut down computers that I get as a Fed. [I’m not shutting down my computer because IT is encrypting in place >20TB of data, which will take days or weeks, and I have no confidence that an interrupted encryption will start where it left off after the furlough and not brick my drives. For the last week a clean complete backup has been running in the background because this isn’t my first rodeo.]

        A related impact is that a shutdown will delay fy2024 fund allocations to non-line item programs. Small consulting shops that work on multiple small contracts each year may see a delay in posting of RFPs and funding opportunity notices, so have a gap in funding months after the shutdown.

      • Ciel babe says:

        My spouse was a fed in previous shutdowns. He had the audacity to go speak at a work conference, all his travel already paid for by the conference organizers not US feds, instead of telling the organizers and the multiple organizations involved including Canadian agencies that he had to last minute cancel as a speaker. Decided to go as private citizen gives talk, doesn’t get paid by US feds at all, honor personal commitment to speak – and use the non-refundable flight, hotel, etc. He was formally reprimanded, almost fined thousands of dollars, had to do hours of ethics training, and told this would negatively impact promotion because not only did he work but it was non-ignorable as he gave a talk in public.

        Friend still working for same agency is churning to get things done over the weekend so if she gets a notice of no work starting Monday the return won’t be as painful.

        p.s. in the past there was no guarantee of that retroactive pay.

        Hi moderators: I commented once in a post-call fugue because the thread was about COVID-19. I have no memory of the prior name or indeed much of what happened that year. Have been meaning to get out of lurking and make an 8 letter handle. Apologies for moderation annoyance.

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    • Bobster33 says:

      I am similarly situated. I am permitted to work for 30 days after the shutdown to wind down any federal projects/operations. I have 300 hours of vacation time saved so I barely make it to the end of the year.

      The Air Traffic Controllers were talking about having to come to work (their essential) and not being paid until the FAA budget is passed.

  10. Dave_MB says:

    Let’s be clear. The money from the wire transfer went Into Hunter Biden’s bank account. It wasn’t sent to the Biden resident. Joe had no involvement in any respect with the transfer. Hunter just listed his parents address as his permanent mailing address. It was a bank to bank wire transfer.

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