At Thursday morning's House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, Florida Republican congressional Rep Matt Gaetz read a news article into official record that described alleged drug use by Hunter Biden. The younger son of Democratic 2020 presidential frontrunner Joe Biden has become an unwilling central figure in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Hunter worked for a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which has been accused of corruption. Trump's effort to portray both Joe and Hunter as corrupt by forcing the Ukrainian government to investigate them was at the heart of the impeachment articles being debated today by the Judiciary Committee.
But Gaetz, a strong Trump supporter and opponent of Trump's impeachment, took the attacks on Hunter — the last surviving child of Joe's three — a step further in today's hearing, bringing up a 2016 incident in which Hunter was allegedly found with cocaine residue in a returned rental car. Biden's past substance abuse issues, however, have been a matter of public record. In 2014, he was discharged from the United States Navy Reserve after a positive cocaine test, according to a Phoenix New Times report that covered the rental car incident.
The Washington Post tweeted a video of Gaetz reading the Hunter Biden article, along with a Democratic reply.Gaetz, however, has a substance abuse-related arrest of his own. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Gaetz was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2008.
While congressional rules of decorum generally frown on members of Congress making personal attacks on other members, Democrat Hank Johnson of Georgia found a creative way to clap back on Gaetz, when he was given time to speak by Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler.
"The pot calling the kettle black is not something we should do," Johnson said, causing a wave of laughter in the committee room audience. "I don't know what members, if any, have had problems with substance abuse, been busted for DUI, I don't know."
Johnson added that "if I did" know of any members with DUI arrests, "I wouldn't raise it against anyone," according to the news site Raw Story.
According to the Tampa Bay Times account, Gaetz has acknowledged that he had "made bad decisions," adding, "that is sort of something that we all live with."
Gaetz escaped charges on the DUI arrest, despite the fact that he refused to take a breathalyzer test to determine his blood-alcohol content. At the time of the arrest, on October 30, 2008, Gaetz was driving a BMW owned by his father, a Florida state senator.