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The President’s Son’s Headache

If Hunter Biden was not the President’s son, would things have been different?

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The U.S. Department of Justice has been busy. On the heels of its latest set of indictments this month against former president Donald Trump comes a court filing in which President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and an agreement to avoid a felony charge for illegally possessing a firearm as a drug user. 

The tax charges: Biden is expected to plead guilty to failing to pay taxes in excess of $100,000 in 2017 and 2018 on more than $1.5 million in income, allowing him to avoid as much as a year of prison. Biden’s back taxes have now reportedly been paid.

The gun charge: Hunter Biden also is accused of illegally owning a Colt Cobra .38 Special handgun for 11 days in October 2018 while knowingly using drugs and testifying, in writing, he wasn’t. Under his agreement with the DOJ, he would be charged, but not prosecuted, as long as he remains drug-free for 24 months and agrees to never own a firearm again.

A lawyer for Hunter Biden, Christopher Clark, released a statement indicating it was his understanding that the five-year investigation into Biden has now been resolved and the president’s son “looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.” 

While the plea deal is still to be rubber-stamped by a federal judge, the terms likely will allow 53-year-old Biden to avoid going to prison just as his father gears up for a second presidential run. Biden is scheduled to appear in federal court in Delaware in the coming days to be arraigned on the misdemeanor tax charges and plead guilty.

Hunter Biden is the last surviving family member of a tragic auto accident President Biden’s family suffered in 1972 that killed his first wife, Neilia Hunter Biden, and one-year-old daughter, Naomi. His sons, Beau and Hunter, were critically injured, but survived. At 46, Beau died of brain cancer, prompting a relapse for Hunter into alcohol and crack cocaine. 

Immediately after the announcement of the deal, many Republicans cried foul. “It’s a sad day for Americans who are reminded yet again that there are two tiers of justice,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy, echoing similar remarks made by California Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Tracy added that Democratic leaders “have irreparably eroded the confidence Americans have in our justice system.” 

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott, who called the DOJ indictment against Trump “all political,” blasted Biden’s deal, tweeting, “A slap on the wrist for Hunter Biden, while ‘The Big Guy’ continues to hunt down his top political opponent. This doesn’t show equal justice. It’s a mockery of our legal system by a family that has no respect for our laws.” (Assuming the aforementioned Big Guy here refers to President Biden.)

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, labeled the Biden-DOJ agreement a “sweetheart deal,” stating he would continue with the committee’s months-long investigation into the overseas business deals of President Biden’s family members, which, frankly, don’t look too great. Of course, this would include any links that can be established to President Biden, whose team has stated he “has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor any overseas business whatsoever.” In a short statement Tuesday from the White House, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said they would “continue to support their son as he rebuilds his life.”

Not to be outdone, Trump’s response to the federal tax and weapon charges against Hunter Biden was to say America’s “system is broken.”

While there is a key difference between charges against a former president, who is again running for the Oval Office, and charges against a sitting president’s son (to say nothing of the substance of those respective charges), it is safe to say our justice system will continue to be a political football for both parties, with every legal move under endless scrutiny. 

At the same time, the DOJ might have taken better care not to move forward with both the Trump and Biden indictments in the same month, in such rapid succession. With their disclosure less than two weeks apart, there was no way they would not draw direct comparisons from the peanut-munching crowd.

And it raises inevitable questions: If Trump was not the GOP front runner, would things have been different? If Hunter Biden wasn’t the president’s son, would he have gotten the exact same plea deal? 

For better or worse, it is hard to believe that party politics are not driving outcomes on both sides of the aisle. As America has always had an imperfect justice system, if both sides continue to insist the other side is corrupt (and not them), because the system is not perfect, where does it leave us?