The Hunter Biden hunt ends not with a bang, but a whimper | Dick Polman

Naturally, twice-indicted Donald Trump is very upset about this plea deal

June 26, 2023 6:30 am

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I get why the Republicans are so obsessed with Hunter Biden. They don’t have much of anything else.

Inflation is down, job creation is up, the deficit is down, the Dow is up, Joe Biden’s achievements (especially on infrastructure) are kicking in, and the GOP has chained itself to an espionage criminal defendant.

So it’s no surprise that MAGA heads detonated when news broke that Hunter Biden and the Justice Department had agreed on a plea deal. The talking point du jour is “TWO-TIER JUSTICE!,” supposedly because pop the president put the fix in for his son, or something like that. We’ll shortly count the ways that their complaint is a crock of dung.

Hunter Biden, a long lost soul with addiction problems, will plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of failing to file timely income tax returns in 2017 and 2018. He’ll also admit that he lied about his drug abuse when he purchased a handgun. He has also paid the taxes he owed ($100,000 for each year). If he stays drug-free for two years, the Justice Department won’t prosecute him on the gun charge. Nor is he allowed to own a gun again.

He has agreed to all the terms, which must still be OK’d by a federal judge.

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Naturally, twice-indicted Donald Trump is very upset about this plea deal. On his social media site, he thumbed: “The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’” That’s quite an assessment, coming from a guy who stacks stolen classified documents next to his toilet.

Most hilariously, his agitprop about a “corrupt Biden DOJ” somehow omitted the fact that David Weiss, the federal prosecutor who spent five years investigating Hunter, the same federal prosecutor who worked out the plea deal, was appointed by none other than…Donald Trump.

In fact, President Biden could’ve replaced Weiss at any time in order to protect his son. Instead, he chose to keep Weiss on the job in order to demonstrate the Justice Department’s independence and dispel perceptions of family favoritism.

Nevertheless, “sweetheart deal” is a new MAGA mantra – even though the deal is anything but. Douglas Berman, an Ohio State law professor and sentencing expert, told the New York Times regular folks are rarely prosecuted for the crimes Hunter is admitting.

“If these are the only offenses, most prosecutors are going to say it’s not worth a federal case,” Berman said.

In other words, the Justice Department is being tougher on Hunter because he is a high-profile individual.

“Everyone is paying attention, and the facts are not in dispute, so a failure to bring charges would create the perception that there was some sort of special treatment or leniency being given to the president’s son,” Berman told the Times.

House Republicans are crying “leniency” anyway, and they’ll keep chasing Hunter for the next few years anyway, because they need another “Hillary’s Emails!” in order to bamboozle the base. With so little to work with on the policy front, they’re committed to the weaponization of ignorance.

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Knock yourselves out, guys. I’ll just quote from the recent letter that Weiss, the Trump-appointed prosecutor, sent to House Republican sleuths: “I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution, consistent with federal law, the Principles of Federal Prosecution, and Departmental regulations.”

Or as Succession CEO Logan Roy would’ve put it, “F–k off.”

One other thought: Hunter Biden has admitted his tax dodges. He has admitted lying on his gun application. He has admitted his drug addiction. What wrongdoing, pray tell, has the espionage criminal defendant ever admitted?

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Dick Polman
Dick Polman

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star's Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected].