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Donald Trump defender Pam Bondi says the President is unlikely to testify at his impeachment inquiry. Image via Getty.

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Joe Henderson: Pam Bondi’s impeachment defense overlooked some facts

It doesn’t matter that Hunter Biden is not relevant to the issue of impeachment. It was all about the threat.

Pam Bondi had a real knee-slapper during her presentation Monday in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The former Florida Attorney General asserted – with an appropriate amount of SHOCK, I tell you – that Hunter Biden unfairly benefited from nepotism.

Gasp!

Well, he probably did. He made about $83,000 a month as a board member for a Ukranian natural gas company called Burisma. It’s reasonable to assume his family tree had something to do with that hefty paycheck. But let’s have a show of hands for anyone who heard that attack from Bondi and thought, “Wait a minute. What do Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have in common with Hunter Biden?”

Throw Donald Trump, Jr. and brother Eric Trump into that mix, too. They’ve done a lot of chattering about Biden while ignoring the faces staring back from the mirror about their own family connections.

Come to think of it, let’s throw Bondi into that mosh pit, too. No, she’s not biologically related. But she must have felt like part of the family when as Florida’s Attorney General, she received a $25,000 campaign donation from Trump in 2013. Shortly after that generous gift, Bondi announced Florida wouldn’t investigate numerous allegations of fraud against Trump University.

As the President knows, it’s good to have friends in high places.

Look, I get it. It’s politics, and Republicans believe they have a workable misdirection play with Hunter Biden. Bondi is part of the team defending Trump against charges he abused his power by asking the new Ukranian President to investigate Biden.

But there are a couple of over-riding points here.

A): Hunter Biden is a private citizen, not the President of the United States. Try as they might to show otherwise, Biden isnot on trial. The Senate is deciding whether to remove Trump from office (spoiler alert: it won’t happen). Whatever happens on that front has nothing to do with Biden.

B): Threatening to withhold nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine until Trump got a public announcement of a corruption investigation against Biden sounds like an abuse of power to me. And former National Security Adviser John Bolton and former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly appear to feel the same way.

Those facts aren’t going away.

Trump’s army has tried to say the investigation request was about the President’s deep, abiding concern about corruption. Against all odds, most of those who parroted that poppycock managed to keep a straight face. Bondi certainly did.

That’s the backbone of Trump’s defense. He was acting in the national interest, supporters say, that had (cough, cough) NOTHING to do with kneecapping a serious Democratic presidential rival.

Bondi has hitched her wagon to that preposterous claim. The whole thing with Hunter Biden is a warning shot to those demanding that Bolton testify. It’s nothing but old-fashioned politics. If Bolton testifies, the theory goes, then Republicans can summon Biden and deep-six his father’s campaign.

It doesn’t matter that Hunter Biden is not relevant to the issue of impeachment. It was all about the threat. If that testimony helps deep-six Joe Biden’s campaign, Republicans will consider it political capital well spent. They’ll take their chances with Bernie Sanders or anyone else.

Bondi’s job was to present that underlying pretext. She played a SHOCKED defense lawyer trying to convince jurors that no matter what the evidence shows, Professor Plum committed the crime in the study with a candlestick.

It was her moment on stage, and I’m sure the President loved what he saw. To many others, though, Bondi’s argument sounded like she doesn’t have a clue.

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I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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