Yesterday morning, CNN's Jeff Zeleny reported that Joe Biden's presidential campaign has been deliberately shielding the candidate from interviews throughout the Ukraine ordeal because they don't want him confronted with numerous questions on the topic. I don't see how it's is a viable or sustainable strategy, but this is apparently what they're going with for now:
"This is a complicated area of discussion for the former Vice President, so I'm told he did not want to sit down for interviews or other things this week because he didn't want to specifically be asked a lot of Hunter Biden-like questions."
That can't last. The man is seeking the White House. He doesn't get to duck and dodge uncomfortable questions indefinitely, especially when they're connected to a massive story involving an impeachment inquiry into the sitting president. I can understand, however, why his team might want to avoid sustained questioning on this subject, given Biden's churlish and inaccurate answers to a handful of question about it late Friday:
WATCH: Joe Biden explodes when a reporter asks a very simple question:— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) October 4, 2019
"How was your role as Vice President in charge of policy in Ukraine and your son's job in Ukraine, how is that not a conflict of interest?"
Biden: "I'm not going to respond to that!"
What is he hiding? pic.twitter.com/jbycKLARhE
Joe Biden still insists he never spoke with his son about overseas business, despite his son saying otherwise. pic.twitter.com/y1hq0X8TQ8— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) October 4, 2019
"I'm not going to respond to that" is not an acceptable answer. It's a legitimate question. His son landed a $50,000 per month gig at a Ukrainian gas company, with no relevant experience or expertise -- aside from the fact that his father was the Vice President and a key point person on the administration's Ukraine policy. The angry/indignant look isn't a good one in this context, and stonewalling is particularly untenable, given that Biden has announced that Hunter will be joining him on the campaign trail. He also decided to 'stand by' his statement that he never discussed Hunter's business dealings with his son, even though Hunter has contradicted that assertion (not to mention this photograph).
The former Vice President is not handling this issue well, fumbling through several approaches that do not appear to be benefitting him or allaying concerns. The Trump and Warren campaigns must be pleased. Speaking of Trump, he's also reacting quite poorly to this whole firestorm. Meanwhile, the media is wagging its tongues at the new development of an additional whistleblower emerging, reportedly with firsthand knowledge of the original whistleblower's claims:
BREAKING: Attorney representing whistleblower who sounded the alarm on Pres. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine tells @ABC News he is now representing a second whistleblower who has first-hand knowledge of events. https://t.co/9FE7oei7pJ— GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) October 6, 2019
More details from @MarkSZaidEsq on the new intelligence community whisteblower:— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 6, 2019
*he or she has spoken to the Intel Community Inspector General;
*has not filed own complaint (doesn’t need to);
*has firsthand knowledge that supports the 1st whistleblower.
This strikes me as...probably not a very big deal. It might be more significant if we didn't already have the transcript itself, but we do; the White House released it, along with the full whistleblower complaint. Having someone else raise his or her hand to confirm what we already have in black and white seems superfluous. Granted, this person may have some previously-unknown information or details to share, but that's not what Tapper's tweet would suggest. This rundown on the possibilities here is worthwhile. The inevitable testimony of the figures involved in these message chains (the Volker testimony transcript should be released, by the way) strikes me as far more important -- and possibly more perilous -- for the president than the existence of this new whistleblower. I'll leave you with some fantastical left-wing fan fiction. The MSNBC show in question, hosted by this person, actually tweeted this out:
.@JillWineBanks: You could #impeach Pence first. The problem is #DonaldTrump then has to name his replacement. I think maybe a deal could be struck where he is told if you don't make a replacement then #NancyPelosi does become president. #AMJoy pic.twitter.com/ahijhCcpnQ— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) October 5, 2019