Republicans Use Hunter Biden’s Guilty Verdict To Praise — and Potentially Revive — Impeachment Inquiry Into His Father

The three lead investigators in the House impeachment probe say they are in part responsible for Tuesday’s conviction.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Biden and his son Hunter Biden talk with guests during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on April 1, 2024. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Republicans are hoping that the conviction of Hunter Biden on three counts related to his illegal purchase of a firearm while addicted to drugs in 2018 could serve as a platform to make the first family’s business dealings a key issue of the 2024 election, and maybe even revive their stalled impeachment inquiry. 

On Tuesday, the president’s sole surviving son was convicted by 12 jurors at the J. Caleb Boggs federal courthouse at Wilmington, Delaware, for buying and possessing a gun while actively addicted to crack, and for lying to the federal government about his drug use at the time. Republicans, whose pressure may have influenced the attorney general’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate Biden, were swift to take credit for the conviction, which may result in a prison sentence for the first son. 

Congressmen James Comer and Jason Smith — who lead the Oversight and Ways and Means committees, respectively — have, along with the Judiciary Committee chairman, Jim Jordan, investigated the Biden family since Republicans took control of the House last year. They pilloried a 2023 plea deal negotiated by Biden’s legal team that would have allowed the first son to avoid jail time. 

That deal was thrown out by the presiding jurist in the case, Judge Maryellen Noreika, in July of last year, after she said the immunity provisions it offered Biden for past crimes were too broad. The following month, under enormous pressure from Republicans, Attorney General Garland elevated the U.S. attorney leading the investigation into Biden, David Weiss, to special counsel. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Weiss charged Biden in the gun case and also charged him with felony tax evasion. That trial is due to begin in September at Los Angeles.  

“Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal was smoked out after scrutiny by a federal judge,” Mr. Comer said in a statement, referring to Judge Noreika. “Today’s verdict is a step toward accountability but until the Department of Justice investigates everyone involved in the Bidens’ corrupt influence peddling schemes that generated over $18 million in foreign payments to the Biden family, it will be clear department officials continue to cover for the Big Guy, Joe Biden.”

During the run-up to Biden’s gun trial, his attorneys had argued before Judge Noreika that the charges against the first son should be dropped because Mr. Weiss, who was appointed by President Trump to his U.S. attorney role prior to being elevated to special counsel by President Biden’s attorney general, caved to pressure from congressional Republicans to bring the indictments. Judge Noreika rejected their demand that the gun charges be dropped, saying that Biden had no evidence of such collusion. 

“This Court has been unable to find any instance where a defendant’s familial relationship to a politically-important person on its own gave rise to a claim of selective prosecution,” Judge Noreika wrote in April. “Even if that were a cognizable claim, however, Defendant has failed to come forward with ‘clear evidence’ that similarly situated individuals have not been prosecuted for comparable firearm-related conduct.”

The felony tax evasion charges brought by Mr. Weiss in California concern $1.4 million in unpaid taxes on income Hunter received between 2016 and 2019 from his lucrative consulting work trading on what his former friend and business partner, Devon Archer, called “the Biden brand.”

Mr. Smith, the leader of Congress’s top tax-writing committee, says the testimony of two Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers was critical to bringing the California tax charges. Agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler testified before the Oversight Committee last year, saying that, during his years-long probe of Hunter, Mr. Weiss told them in a private meeting that justice department officials were stonewalling his probe. 

The “normal investigative process” was not followed and the  probe was “slow-walked” and littered with “unnecessary … approvals and roadblocks,” Mr. Ziegler claimed. 

“If it were not for the IRS whistleblowers coming forward to the Ways and Means Committee, Hunter Biden would have never faced accountability for the crimes he has committed,” Mr. Smith wrote in a statement. “Today’s verdict is a step towards ensuring equal application of the law, regardless of one’s last name.”

In carefully worded language, Mr. Weiss has said he never felt he was impeded in his investigation.

The House impeachment inquiry has stalled in recent months after the Oversight Committee struggled to find credible evidence that President Biden personally profited off Hunter’s business dealings, or that he engaged in policy actions in a quid for quo with his son’s foreign business partners. With an incredibly slim majority in the House, it is unclear if Messrs. Comer, Smith, and Jordan have the votes to impeach the president. 

For a while, it appeared as if Mr. Comer would end his probe with a set of criminal referrals against Biden and his uncle, Jim, for allegedly lying to Congress when they testified before the Oversight Committee. Mr. Comer ultimately issued those criminal referrals on June 5 — the Biden justice department is unlikely to pursue them — but made it clear that it is not the end of his investigation. 

“This is just the beginning,” Mr. Comer told Fox News on Sunday. “The next step will be accountability for Joe Biden.”

If President Trump returns to the Oval Office in January, it’s possible that the justice department would then pursue contempt charges against Hunter and James Biden. The current president’s DOJ did successfully prosecute two of Trump’s top advisers, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, for contempt of Congress, related to the House’s investigation of the January 6 riot, after receiving a criminal referral from Democrats. Navarro is currently incarcerated at a federal prison in Florida and Bannon has been ordered to report to prison next month.

Whether the president is ultimately impeached may prove immaterial to the political ramifications of his son’s conviction and the allegations of wrongdoing and corruption. According to a Harvard–Harris poll from April, the vast majority of Americans believe the president aided his son’s foreign business dealings by using his official government position. In total, 58 percent of voters said the president was in some way involved, including 36 percent of Democrats. 

The New York Sun

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