As I have observed on another occasion, the inclusion of “Thou shalt not bear false witness” in the Ten Commandments suggests that the ancients had a particularly potent insight into that particularly egregious injustice. It is far more specific than the less febrile and more decorous “Thou shalt not lie.” It cuts to the heart of one of humanity’s most vile and dishonourable sins: inventing testimony contrived to destroy another human being.
Anyone who has had it done to them, and I’m sure that includes everyone, understands why false testimony is particularly damaging and hateful. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It should come as no surprise to anyone that Republicans have done it, and they did it in public, and they did it to Hunter Biden and his father Joe.
It’s important that you remember that Republicans are supposed to be the “Christians” here. Among their pet projects has been trying to display the Ten Commandments in courthouses and classrooms across the land, in violation of the Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. They might occasionally try reading it.
Recently New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exposed House Republicans for displaying a fabricated screenshot during the first formal hearing in their so-called “impeachment inquiry” against President Joe Biden. Specifically, Republican Representative Byron Donalds of Florida displayed a message that Jim Biden, the president’s brother, sent to Hunter Biden, the president’s son, in 2018. Donalds claimed the message indicated that the president benefited from fraud and money laundering committed by Hunter Biden.
That explanation seemed plausible until you saw the message in context. What the message actually showed was Jim Biden responding to Hunter Biden’s call for help. Specifically, Hunter Biden needed his father’s financial help in meeting his alimony obligations. At the time, the president’s son was in the depths of his drug addiction and going through a divorce.
The message was from 2018, which means that Joe Biden wasn’t President of the United States at the time. He wasn’t even Vice President. He was citizen Joe, and his son was enlisting his uncle’s help in an appeal for a loan for a very personal matter.
It is a sad and poignant moment. Who but Republicans would twist a commonplace, vulnerable everyday plea for help into something evil and scabrous? Who but Republicans would bear such shameful false witness? Who but Republicans would go to such depths in the service of Donald Trump? After all, that’s what this is about. Serving Donald Trump.
When Donald Trump once said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes, I was sufficiently naive to think that was mere hyperbole. I now see it as an understatement. In fact, I now see that Republicans would shoot someone on Fifth Avenue themselves to protect Donald Trump. They would destroy American democracy for Donald Trump, they would ruin the planet and mortgage their children’s future for Donald Trump. There is no limit to the evil they would do for Donald Trump.
Bearing false witness for Donald Trump is a mere walk in the park for Republicans, a misdemeanour en route to even greater and more heinous crimes. They know the impeachment hearing is a sham. That’s why they invent false evidence. That’s why they break their own Ninth Commandment.
The impeachment hearing is a distraction. It’s something for Fox News to talk about while their lord and saviour Donald Trump is being tried for 91 felonies across 4 indictments.
By itself this latest lie, this bearing of false witness, would be the scandal of the month. As it is it can safely hide out in an ocean of Republican lies and perfidies. And there it will remain, forgotten by a fickle news media and an amnesiac public. In the end, its original intent, to smear Hunter Biden and his father, will be remembered and held against them anyway. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.