The House Judiciary Committee debate over articles of impeachment against President Trump took an ugly turn Thursday when Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., brought up Hunter Biden’s past drug use while defending the president's call for Ukraine to investigate him.
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., took issue with Gaetz, who was arrested for DUI in 2008.
“I would say the pot calling the kettle black is not something we should do,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what members if any have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in DUI. Uh, I don’t know. But if I did, I wouldn’t raise it against anyone.
“I think we’ve got to get back down to what is most important here,” Johnson continued, adding: “Is it ever OK for a president of the United States of America to invite foreign interference in an upcoming presidential election.”
Trump’s request for Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company while his father was in office, was flagged by an intelligence community whistleblower, thus triggering the House impeachment inquiry that resulted in an abuse of power article being debated by the committee.
At Thursday’s hearing, Gaetz read from a profile in the New Yorker magazine in which Hunter Biden described buying crack cocaine and damaging a rental car.
“That is what we’d call evidence,” Gaetz said. “Now, I don’t want to make light of anybody’s substance abuse issues ... but it’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.”
The point was part of a new impeachment defense by House Republicans that Trump was justified in seeking investigations into the Bidens and therefore did not abuse his power.
“We have the ability to show Burisma is corrupt; we have the ability to show Hunter Biden is corrupt,” Gaetz said. “And that totally exculpates the president because there is no way that the United States of America honestly pursuing actual corruption is an impeachable offense.”
Gaetz was arrested in Florida on Oct. 30, 2008, after he was pulled over for speeding in a BMW SUV registered to his father, a state senator. The arresting officer smelled alcohol, and Gaetz refused to take a field sobriety test and a Breathalyzer.
Charges were eventually dismissed, but Gaetz acknowledged them when his mug shot surfaced during a U.S. House hearing on criminal justice reform in 2014.
“I made bad decisions that resulted in an arrest,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “And that is sort of something that we all live with.”
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