Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, probably dodged a jail cell when he pleaded guilty this week to two tax charges. He also agreed to enter a pretrial diversion program in return for prosecutors dropping a separate gun charge. The deal includes a recommendation of probation, which a judge must approve.
Is there anything more? Hunter Biden’s attorney told reporters that the agreement “resolved” a five-year federal investigation into his client. But the Justice Department released a statement saying the “investigation is ongoing.” Were there any findings about Hunter Biden trading his name for lucrative scores with foreign governments? Again, nobody is talking. But did it really take five years to weigh in on tax charges?
There’s at least some evidence that he got special treatment. A DOJ memo notes that pretrial diversion programs should not be available to those “accused of an offense involving brandishing or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon.” The gun charge involved Hunter Biden lying on a federal gun purchase form. Photos later surfaced of him naked, waving the firearm.
Many Republicans have complained that the Hunter Biden deal provides evidence of a “two-tiered” justice system. Perhaps. The FBI’s Russian collusion bungling sure has the hallmarks of naked partisanship. But when it comes to Hunter Biden, even in the firearm case, there’s no evidence at this point that federal prosecutors acted inappropriately. The outcome of the tax charges seems consistent with similar cases, and The Wall Street Journal reports that “DOJ has rarely pursued ‘buy and lie’ gun cases.” Hunter Biden had an incentive to cut a deal to minimize the controversy he might cause his father in the 2024 election.
It may be too late for that, however. House Republicans continue to investigate allegations of Biden family influence peddling — as they should. Politico reports that the House Oversight Committee “has already collected suspicious activity reports from the Treasury Department … tied to Hunter Biden and his business associates, as well as quietly subpoenaed a swath of bank documents.” Then there is the FBI document that reveals that a source claims a Ukrainian made payments to the Bidens. “The bribery claim remains hearsay,” the Journal observed, “but Hunter’s financial dealings with shady foreign actors … contain enough smoke to warrant a thorough probe.”
Indeed, if the Justice Department wants to help stamp out the allegations of special treatment, it must be more forthcoming about the status of the Hunter Biden probe and cooperate with any congressional efforts to learn more about the Biden family’s business connections. Anything less will only stoke the flames of conspiracy.