The White House Presents Hunter Biden’s Legal Troubles as the End of a Saga, but Critics See a New Beginning
The White House presented Tuesday’s Hunter Biden news as the end of his sordid saga, but political rivals say it’s a new beginning.
President Joe Biden’s troubled son will plead guilty to federal tax charges and the illegal purchase of a handgun while he was an illicit drug user, the Justice Department wrote in a court filing Tuesday. Hunter Biden’s attorney quickly released a statement saying it represented the final act of his investigation.
“With the announcement of two agreements between my client, Hunter Biden, and the United States attorney’s office for the district of Delaware, it is my understanding that the five-year investigation into Hunter is resolved,” read the statement from attorney Chris Clark. “I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life. He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”
White House spokesman Ian Sams issued a statement as well, framing it as the beginning of a rebuild.
“The president and first lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life,” it said. “We will have no further comment.”
Joe Biden’s reelection campaign did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
But the president’s political rivals, as well as many congressional Republicans, saw in the development something else entirely. Pointing to the fact that Hunter Biden will avoid jail time and to the obvious fact that the Department of Justice is under his father’s purview, they quickly called out what they see as a double standard.
“Let’s be clear: the Department of Justice’s charges against President Biden’s son Hunter reveal a two-tiered system of justice,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY). “These charges against Hunter Biden and sweetheart plea deal have no impact on the Oversight Committee’s investigation. We will not rest until the full extent of President Biden’s involvement in the family’s schemes are revealed.”
In this light, Hunter Biden’s plea simply adds to the twist of investigations engulfing Joe Biden and his top Republican rival, Donald Trump. Both Joe Biden and Trump remain under scrutiny for their handling of classified documents, for which Trump is about to stand trial, and Comer is investigating payments made to Joe Biden’s family members during his run as vice president.
“It’s never been more clear that we have a two tiered system of justice when you have the son of the sitting President of the United States selling our country out to the highest bidder, laundering money, committing tax fraud, accepting bribes, illegally obtaining a firearm, and shamefully avoiding child support,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said. “House Republicans will not rest until the full illegal corruption of the Biden crime family is exposed.”
Trump and other GOP 2024 contenders were quick to make the same point, with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) slamming it as a sweetheart deal and Nikki Haley ripping the “double standard of justice.”
Filling the void of silence from the White House, Democrats and progressives defended the deal, pointing to the fact that prosecutor David Weiss was a Trump appointee.
“A Trump-appointed prosecutor led the investigation into Hunter Biden,” said MSNBC analyst Mehdi Hasan. “Will ‘dictator’ Joe Biden now appoint a prosecutor to investigate Jared Kushner? Isn’t that what should happen now, per the GOP view of the world?”
It’s a messaging battle that will continue and accelerate as the 2024 presidential contest comes into focus.
Joe Biden, despite the controversy, has not shied away from being seen with or defending his son. He told an interviewer in May that Hunter Biden had done nothing wrong and said he was “very proud” of his son in response to shouted questions from reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Hunter Biden also travels frequently with his father, where he’s picked up by the photojournalists who accompany the president.
At other times, the president has laughed off or pointedly refused to answer shouted questions relating to his son, asking a reporter last week why he’d asked “such a dumb question.”
That hasn’t stopped the accusations from having an effect on the public perception of the president. A recent Convention of States Action poll showed only 31.4% of voters said they do not believe the Biden family has received foreign payments to influence national policy decisions.
But despite the war of words, Republican Party strategist Doug Heye said the substance of the various investigations will in fact be the determining factor politically as campaign season rolls on.
“[Hunter Biden’s actions] will certainly remain a focus of hearings,” he said. “If there’s more there, then it will be a larger issue. If not, it mostly plays to the base.”
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