As 2020 comes to a close, the news has been dominated by a global pandemic, statewide lockdowns and a presidential election. Amid all that, it’s easy to forget about political events, including scandals and controversies, that otherwise would have been more in the spotlight.
Here are the top political scandals of 2020:
Trump’s impeachment trial
The Ukraine controversy led to President Trump’s impeachment at the end of 2019 in the House of Representatives. But the matter raged on into early 2020.
The saga, involving Trump’s July 25, 2019, call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump urged him to investigate the Biden family’s dealings in the country, had led to two articles of impeachment. Those articles accused the president of abuse of power and obstruction, respectively.
But it was always an unlikely prospect for a conviction in the Republican-controlled Senate, and that ended up being the case – the Senate voted for Trump’s acquittal on both counts.
However, the topic of the call – Hunter Biden’s business dealings – would resurface later in the year.
John Bolton’s allegations
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton made headlines in the summer when he released a book, “The Room Where It Happened,” alleging Trump backed the idea of more concentration camps in China and asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him in the 2020 election.
Bolton accused the president of soliciting foreign election help during a June 29, 2019, meeting with Xi in Osaka, Japan.
“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote. “He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”
The president then allegedly urged China to “buy as many American farm products as China could,” Bolton wrote, and “Xi agreed that we should restart the trade talks, welcoming Trump’s concession that there would be no new tariffs and agreeing that the two negotiating teams should resume discussions on farm products on a priority basis,” Bolton wrote.
Trump advisers would deny the allegations in the tell-all book.
Nancy Pelosi’s hair salon visit
As states initiated severe coronavirus restrictions, a number of lawmakers were accused of hypocrisy and for not following restrictions they either enacted or supported.
Perhaps the most high-profile was when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited a San Francisco hair salon in September for a wash and blowout, despite local ordinances keeping salons closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In footage obtained by Fox News, Pelosi was seen walking through ESalonSF in San Francisco with wet hair, and without a mask over her mouth or nose.
The stylist doing her hair could be seen following her wearing a black face mask.
Salons in San Francisco had been closed since March and were notified Sept. 1 they could reopen for outdoor hairstyling services only.
“It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” the salon owner told Fox News at the time.
When asked for comment, Pelosi’s office maintained that the speaker was following the rules as presented to her.
“The speaker always wears a mask and complies with local COVID requirements. This business offered for the speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business. The speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment,” a spokesperson said at the time.
Eric Swalwell and the alleged Chinese spy
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., came under scrutiny in December after an Axios report that revealed an alleged Chinese spy named Christine Fang, or Fang Fang, had ties to a number of political figures, including Swalwell – and allegedly had sexual interactions with at least two Midwestern mayors.
According to the Axios report, Fang and Swalwell had been linked since his days as a Dublin City, Calif., council member, prior to his election to Congress in 2012. She had helped fundraise for his 2014 campaign and placed at least one intern in his office, Axios’ reporting found.
Investigators reportedly gave Swalwell a defensive briefing in 2015, and he cut ties with Fang soon after.
“Rep. Swalwell, long ago, provided information about this person – whom he met more than eight years ago, and whom he hasn’t seen in nearly six years – to the FBI,” Swalwell’s office told Axios. They added that Swalwell “will not participate” in the story out of concerns about possible classified information.
But Republicans have raised questions about the connection, and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for him to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee.
Trump’s photo outside a DC church
During the nationwide protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, protesters descended on Washington, D.C. – with some protests turning violent.
Trump visited St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been previously attacked by vandals, moments after he addressed the nation and promised to restore “law and order” amid the protests and riots that had engulfed the country in the aftermath of the death of Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died while in police custody.
As Trump did so, protesters were being pushed back by riot police near Lafayette Square. Media outlets connected the pushback with Trump’s visit, expressing outrage over the smoke used – and describing the protesters as “peaceful.”
Hunter Biden controversy re-emerges
The questions surrounding Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, China and elsewhere, which had contributed to the impeachment of President Trump, emerged again in October when the New York Post reported on emails contained on a server purportedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son – and reported that he introduced the elder Biden to a Ukrainian businessman.
That server, as well as revelations from his former business partner, Tony Bobulinksi, raised more questions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings – including how much the former vice president knew about them.
The controversy did not sink Joe Biden’s presidential chances, but they emerged once again after the election – with Hunter announcing that he is under federal investigation for his “tax affairs.”
A well-placed government source told Fox News that Hunter Biden has been a subject/target of the grand jury investigation. It is a controversy that could very easily linger on into 2021. However, Attorney General William Barr said he will not be appointing a special counsel to investigate.
“I think to the extent that there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally,” Barr said.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Gregg Re contributed to this report.
Source by feeds.foxnews.com