West News Wire: They believed everything was over and that they could put it behind them. Hunter Biden only needed to appear in court, respond to a few questions, and sign some papers; that was it. Republicans wouldn’t abandon it, of course, but any serious threat would have passed.
However, things didn’t turn out that way. The failure of the plea deal and the appointment of a special counsel, who may potentially bring the president’s son to trial, have given the criminal inquiry fresh life, contrary to what President Biden’s advisors had thought would be the case’s end.
What was once an unpleasant but somewhat confined political issue that mostly enraged right-wing extremists may now last for months as the president prepares for his reelection campaign. It might be more difficult for the White House to dismiss the allegations against Hunter Biden’s behaviour as politically driven this time. They might even reach the broader public, which has mostly given little attention up until now, by breaking out of the conservative echo chamber.
Hunter Biden’s potential criminal exposure remained unknown beyond the tax and firearms charges brought against him by David C. Weiss, the prosecutor first selected by President Donald J. Trump’s attorney general to look into him in 2018. It may be that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s decision to designate Mr. Weiss a special counsel with more independence to run the inquiry means that there is still more potential legal peril stemming from Hunter Biden’s business dealings with foreign firms.
However, in the long term, it could not amount to as much as first appears. A trial might be held outside of Delaware, where Mr. Weiss is the U.S. attorney and has jurisdiction, as a result of his revelation that he is abandoning the plea agreement he first negotiated with Mr. Biden about the tax and weapons charges. Some observers hypothesized that he may have asked for special counsel status to enable him to bring cases outside of his home state.
Since the parties’ conversations have fallen down, Friday’s notice feels more like a technicality allowing Weiss to file charges outside of Delaware, said to Anthony Coley, who previously served as Mr. Garland’s director of public affairs at the Justice Department. It won’t make much of an influence in real life.
Even if such were the case, the spectacle of a trial by a jury of Hunter Biden’s peers would be embarrassing for the White House and give the president’s Republican detractors more material to work with. Even if they weren’t concerned about the possibility of a wider inquiry, the president’s aides were frustrated as a result and accepted months of further suffering.
According to David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, “it seems unlikely that Weiss will uncover much that is new after five years of looking into Hunter’s dealings.” On the other hand, anything that makes Hunter’s case more well-known and prolongs the narrative into the election year is undoubtedly bad news for the president’s staff.
As it turned out, Mr. Weiss’s appointment by Mr. Garland as special counsel did not completely resolve the issue it was intended to address. Republicans criticised the attorney general’s selection of Mr. Weiss because he had approved the initial plea arrangement, which they had called a “sweetheart deal,” even though a special counsel designation is meant to shield an inquiry from politics.
Forget the fact that Mr. Weiss was a Trump administration appointment who the Biden administration continued to work with in order to demonstrate that it was not trying to slant the case in favour of the president’s son. Some have portrayed Mr. Weiss as a lackey of the Biden administration and have showcased whistle-blowers who said the prosecutor had been hamstrung even though he insisted he was not.
Representative James R. Comer of Kentucky, the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Republican who has led congressional investigations into the president’s son, said that Attorney General Garland’s action “is part of the Justice Department’s efforts to attempt a Biden family cover-up.”
If Mr. Weiss does not ultimately corroborate their unsupported allegations of wrongdoing against the Biden family, such attacks also serve the objective of smearing him in advance. According to testimony and news reports, Hunter Biden used his name to gain money, and a former business partner said that his father was aware of this. However, there is no proof that the president directly benefited from or used his position to advance the commercial interests of his son.
However, other Republicans said that the party ought to applaud Mr. Weiss’ selection as special counsel. They countered that if there was nothing to investigate, there would be no need for one and that now Mr. Biden’s own attorney general was stating that one was necessary.
It demonstrates that there is more going on than just smoke, according to prominent Republican strategist Douglas Heye. It is now impossible to categorize this as solely being a House Republican or MAGA issue. Now, this must be covered in a different way. Additionally, where a special counsel inquiry starts is not often where it ends, as we have learned from past special counsel investigations.
With Hunter Biden’s agreement with Mr. Weiss to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and accept a diversion programme in order to have an unlawful gun possession charge dropped, the president’s team thought it had turned a corner. However, the attorney general’s announcement on Friday afternoon came as a nasty surprise to the White House.
The Biden campaign was quite glad that nothing more significant had come out of the five years of research. Two days later, the president made a point of inviting his son, who has battled a crack addiction, to a prominent state banquet, which was interpreted as a spike-the-ball statement declaring triumph over the family’s pursuers. The fact that Mr. Garland was also at the state dinner, hanging out just across an outdoor tent from the man his department was prosecuting, left even some Democrats feeling uncomfortable.
Any sensation of relief, though, was unwarranted. It all fell apart under a judge’s questioning when Hunter Biden appeared at the Federal District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 26 to finalise the plea agreement. A dispute over the meaning of the agreement was at the centre of the situation. While prosecutors made it apparent that it did not, Hunter Biden and his attorneys believed it to be the end of the investigation.
Given that Mr. Trump has promised to prosecute Mr. Biden if elected president, the Hunter Biden legal team seeks assurance that a guilty plea would put a stop to the situation. However, as Mr. Weiss acknowledged on Friday, further discussions meant to resolve the issue have come to a standstill, making a trial all but certain to be the next step and making it easier for Republicans trying to shift attention from Mr. Trump’s three indictments.
Of course, the two scenarios are not at all comparable. Even the strongest evidence against Hunter Biden does not justify attempting to thwart a democratic election in order to maintain power. He was never elected president and never will be. However, Republicans have found it effective to criticise what they refer to as a “two-tier justice system.”
According to a June poll by Reuters and Ipsos, 75% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats think the president’s son received preferential treatment in the plea deal. However, the majority of voters said they believed Mr. Biden was “being a good father by supporting his son,” and only 26% said this made them less likely to support him.
According to the president’s advisers, Republican assaults on Hunter Biden did not succeed in the 2020 election, in which Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump, or in the 2022 midterm elections, in which Democrats performed better than expected. Additionally, independents and disgruntled Democrats, who will be crucial to the president’s reelection in 2024, have shown little interest in the topic.
That is an assumption that will be tried in the upcoming months effectively concurrently with the president’s son.