Hunter Biden, the First Son who documented terabytes worth of his own crimes across at least five genres of offense on at least three continents, has finally been indicted. Has hell frozen over? Are pigs flying? No. It’s a limited hangout — business as usual.
Prosecutors have not charged Hunter with tax fraud, a crime he certainly committed but which implicates his father, the “Big Guy” to whom Hunter claims to have paid between 10 and 50% of his earnings. Prosecutors likewise have not charged the young Biden for failing to register as a foreign agent, a crime he also committed and through which he became rich but which also, inconveniently, implicates his father. Prosecutors did not even charge Hunter for crimes related to his penchant for crack and hookers at home and abroad — crimes that do not directly implicate his father but which nevertheless paint an ugly portrait of the Biden clan.
Instead, Hunter has been charged with lying on some paperwork while purchasing a firearm. That is, he is charged with making too expansive a use of his Second Amendment rights, cherished by Americans since long before the nation’s founding and defended especially by Joe Biden’s most trenchant critics. Hunter faces jail time for his least significant crime, which also happens to be the transgression least damaging to his father and most likely to elicit sympathy. The indictment, though less masterful a political maneuver than the Justice Department’s previous attempt to let him off with a sweetheart plea deal, impresses nevertheless.
Victor Marchetti, a former special assistant to the deputy director of the CIA, described the tactic succinctly. “A limited hangout,’” he wrote, “is spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals: when their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting — sometimes even volunteering — some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case.”
In the case of the Bidens, a veil of secrecy no longer obscures their corruption. First, Joe denied knowledge of Hunter’s business deals. Then, Hunter admitted to discussing the deals with his father. Next, Joe Biden denied active involvement in the graft. Then, handwritten notes and phone logs revealed Joe’s participation in dozens of Hunter’s crooked meetings. So Joe spun his participation as perfunctory pleasantries to appease his son. Then, investigators discovered several pseudonyms, present in thousands of emails, by which Biden as Vice President of the United States got into the nitty gritty of the deals. Now Hunter has been indicted for lying to a gun store clerk.
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But what ever happened to the tax charges? The Department of Justice seemed willing to pursue them just as long as a federal judge let Hunter off the hook without the still-hidden details of his business dealings ever seeing the light of day. When U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected that proposal in July, the DOJ decided to drop the charges altogether. Did the prosecutors suddenly conclude that Hunter had not in fact committed the crime? Or was the prosecution a farce from the start?
The gun charges carry with them the prospect of 25 years in federal prison. But does anyone believe that Joe Biden would permit his only surviving son to languish in jail even if prosecutors managed to convict him? Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell seems downright serene, predicting, “The case will be dismissed before trial.” In the meantime, Lowell has reportedly informed the judge that Hunter will plead not guilty.
When the Hunter Biden laptop story first broke just under four years ago, the government leapt into action — to pressure social media platforms to suppress the story. Four years later, the tactics have changed, but the goal remains the same: protect Joe Biden.