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Will Trump’s Ukraine Scandal Turn Biden’s Campaign Into Collateral Damage?

Getting sucked into the Trump scandal is the last thing Biden’s campaign needs.

Former Vice President Joe Biden waits to be introduced during the Democratic Polk County Steak Fry on September 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Under normal circumstances, an incumbent Republican president facing deadly serious impeachment proceedings in an election season would be cause for spontaneous celebrations and unrestrained glee at the headquarters of the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. You would think the fact that Donald Trump is very publicly flying apart at the seams because of all this would have to deeply sweeten the moment, right?

The crew at former Vice President Joe Biden’s headquarters is almost certainly not celebrating, however, for a variety of ominous reasons, not the least of which is that according to some polls, Biden is no longer the front-runner. Some polls show Sen. Elizabeth Warren now leading nationally, and in critical states like Iowa, New Hampshire and California.

I’ll bet the Warren camp is wreathed in smiles over the Trump news and the new poll numbers. As for Biden’s fallen front-runner status, that appears to be the least of his concerns.

As the threat of impeachment grows larger and the stain on Trump’s office grows deeper, the president has spent the last 100 hours threatening the life of the whistleblower along with the witnesses who actually heard the Ukraine call, accusing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of treason (another death threat) for mocking him during the Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire hearing last week, and threatening the country with civil war unless everybody stops being mean to him. That’s a bad run even by Trump’s standards.

Not to be outdone, Trump’s minions fanned out across the networks this weekend, only to have their lunch eaten by network hosts who were having none of it. Rep. Jim Jordan tried to paint the whistleblower as motivated by partisan politics, only to have CNN’s Jake Tapper clown him on live television. White House adviser and vivid fascist Stephen Miller attempted to blame the entire scandal on some “deep state” conspiracy, only to have Chris Wallace of Fox News dismantle him like a hot car in a chop shop. We have reached a unique place when Fox starts actively batting down Trumpian spin.

Then there was Rudy Giuliani, ye gods and little fishes. Trump’s personal lawyer and walking calamity factory appeared on ABC News’s “This Weekwith George Stephanopoulos and coughed up enough debunked, half-assed conspiracy theories to make Alex Jones see through time. It was Biden, no it was Obama, no it wasn’t Russia but maybe Ukraine and Crowdstrike and the Democrats, stop interrupting me! Watching Giuliani on Sunday was like being trapped inside somebody else’s headache.

Stephanopoulos gave Giuliani more than enough room to collapse in on himself like a dying star, and when it was over, Biden’s campaign sent a letter to all the networks demanding they stop booking Giuliani for appearances. The Biden campaign, it seems, is sick and tired of truthless Trump appendages like Giuliani getting free air time to fling their rancid cheese into the wind.

Therein, however, lies the rub. A large portion of that cheese has the Biden family name on it. Hunter Biden, son of the three-time presidential candidate, has only been credibly accused of the kind of legal corruption that goes on everywhere in the circles of power: He appears to have played on his family name to get a gig. Unfortunately, it would only be surprising if it didn’t happen.

Yet in their zeal to tear down a political rival on the doorstep of the 2020 election season, Trump and his cronies blew past Hunter Biden’s troubled personal history, which is rife with the kind of human failures a feckless opposition campaign would usually pounce on. Instead, they concocted this Byzantine scheme to enlist Ukraine in digging up Hunter-related dirt that doesn’t exist. Trump, in extremis, is clinging to the fiction of Hunter Biden’s Ukraine criminality like it’s a chaise lounge that fell off the Titanic after the iceberg stopped by.

The fact that Trump’s swelling troubles have drawn Hunter Biden’s name into the national conversation, even though the accusations against him are false, is another unwanted millstone around the neck of the Biden campaign, and those millstones are beginning to pile up. Reports that Biden’s brother, James, has been using the family name to cut his own deals have also started making the rounds, as well.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that the Biden campaign drastically slashed its digital advertising budget, all but abandoning the massive millennial voter bloc to Biden’s opponents. This move is widely perceived as a sign of deep weakness. “Candidates rarely withdraw so much money from their online campaigns unless they are seeing weak results in online fund-raising,” reported the Times.

A great many progressive voters have been hoping Biden’s 2020 campaign would go the way of his last two attempts, and Biden has done little to dispel those aspirations. His uneven debate performances and fogbound campaign demeanor to date have strongly suggested he is running out of habit instead of inspiration or genuine motivation. The political and media establishment have been propping him up like a collapsing circus tent, but there are only so many beams on hand, and the crowd is heading for the exits.

Biden is no longer the front-runner, and his numbers are shrinking fast. It will be one of the strangest ironies in modern political history if a scandal that threatens the presidency of Donald Trump winds up turning the listless Biden campaign into more collateral damage.