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Hunter in jaws of same justice system President Biden defended

By Philip Wegmann
Real Clear Wire

President Biden stepped off Marine One, walked across the tarmac of the Delaware Air National Guard base, and embraced his son Hunter, a convicted felon.

This week marks the first time in American history that a child of a sitting president was convicted of a crime. The news complicates life for Biden ahead of an election and sent the first family into a hasty and literal retreat. The president had been slated to remain at the White House. After the conviction, he traveled instead to his Wilmington estate.

Hours earlier, a federal jury found Hunter Biden guilty of three felonies related to an illegal purchase of a handgun. A crack-cocaine addict by his own admission, the president’s son purchased a .38-caliber Colt Cobra in 2018. The court found that he lied on a background check by saying that he was not using illegal drugs at the time of the purchase. He faces possible prison time. His lawyers promise to appeal. His father, the president, will not pardon him.

Biden said as much during an interview with ABC News last week. Asked if he would accept the outcome of the trial, he said “Yes.” Asked if he had ruled out the possibility of a pardon for his last living son, Biden replied, “Yes.” As a political matter, the president could do no other.

When his predecessor, former President Trump, was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records in May, Biden said the conviction “reaffirmed” the principle that no one is above the law in America, adding that to question the judicial system was not just “irresponsible” but “dangerous.” His own son now finds himself caught in the jaws of that system.

The jurors in Delaware took just three hours to deliberate, and when they announced their decision, the White House quickly released a statement from Biden pointing to his role as both a president and a parent.

“I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” Biden said.

“Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that,” he continued.

If the appeal fails, Biden could still save his son from prison. A presidential commutation remains possible. But the administration was not eager to engage in speculation on the day that Hunter Biden made regrettable history. Instead, the White House canceled the daily press briefing, and the president kept his distance from reporters. He is scheduled to depart Wednesday for a meeting of the G7 in Italy.

The last remarks Biden is likely to make stateside came at a gun control summit hosted at the Washington Hilton by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. He called for an assault weapons ban, highlighted new criminal penalties for those who make illegal straw purchases, and heralded new data from the FBI showing that crime is down nationwide. Rep. Robin Kelly, an Illinois Democrat in attendance, called the remarks “inspiring.” But “ironic” might have been a better descriptor.

While Biden made no mention of his son, the president called for new safe storage requirements of firearms, telling the crowd that “we should hold families responsible if they don’t provide those locks on those guns.”

A key part of the prosecution’s case against his son a week earlier: Security footage of Biden’s daughter-in-law, Hallie Biden, throwing the firearm of the first son in a dumpster behind a local grocery store after discovering the gun in the unlocked glove box of her brother-in-law’s truck. She testified that she had “panicked,” worrying that Hunter Biden, then in the throes of addiction, might hurt himself or that her children might discover the unsecured weapon.

While Biden did not second guess the court, his comments post-conviction stand in stark contrast to his previous public denials. He batted back accusations in 2020 as a candidate that Hunter Biden was improperly trading on his name, and as president, he told MSNBC last May that “my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him.” That trust will continue to be tested as Hunter Biden navigates the legal system.

Increasingly in American politics, the courtroom and campaign trail have started to blur. Trump was convicted in May; the son of the sitting president, in June. Trump is slated to be sentenced on July 11, a few days before accepting the Republican nomination at the GOP convention in Milwaukee; Biden, the Democratic nomination in August in Chicago. Republicans are already arguing that the son of the president got off easy, a case Trump will make when he debates Biden later this month in Atlanta.

The Trump campaign dismissed the Hunter Biden conviction as “nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family.” Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, heralded the decision as “a step towards accountability” but complained that until the Department of Justice turned its attention toward Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals, “it will be clear department officials continue to cover for the Big Guy, Joe Biden.”

A conviction was not inevitable for Hunter Biden. His lawyers turned down a plea deal last summer, balking when they discovered inside the courtroom that the agreement did not shield the defendant from all future prosecutions. Hunter chose instead to plead “not guilty,” a decision that now haunts him. He isn’t out of the legal woods either.

Special Counsel David Weiss said that the verdict demonstrated that “no one in this country is above the law. Everyone must be accountable for their actions, even this defendant.” He added that “Hunter Biden should be no more accountable than any other citizen convicted of this same conduct.”

After thanking Attorney General Merrick Garland for giving him the support and space necessary to try the case, Weiss added, “As you know, we have additional trials and investigative work to be done. So, I will not entertain questions at this time. Our work continues.”

It was a reference to the other federal case involving Hunter Biden. Weiss has brought nine federal tax charges against the son of the president, a case that makes frequent references to his previous work on behalf of foreign businesses in Ukraine and China, the substance of Republican allegations of influence peddling. That trial begins in September.

The presidential campaigns of Trump, a convicted felon, and Biden, the father of a felon, continue.

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