No favorites: Hunter Biden convicted on 3 felony charges

President’s son should take full responsibility for his criminal conduct.



June 12, 2024 - 2:47 PM

Hunter Biden, center, President Joe Biden’s son, accompanied by his mother, first lady Jill Biden, left, and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, right, walking out of federal court after hearing the verdict, Tuesday, June 11, that he has been convicted of all three felony charges in the federal gun trial. Photo by (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

No one is above the law, not even the president’s son. Hunter Biden’s Tuesday conviction in a Delaware federal court undercuts former president Donald Trump’s claim that his conviction in New York showed that the justice system is rigged. And the Biden verdict highlights the importance of strictly enforcing what few gun-control laws this country has.

The jury found Mr. Biden guilty on three felony counts. The cases grew out of his false claim — on federal forms he was required to fill out truthfully to purchase a gun — that he was not addicted to or using illegal drugs. This was in 2018, a time when Mr. Biden was using crack cocaine, making him a danger to himself and others, especially if armed. The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming, which is why the jury of six men and six women — which included multiple gun owners — returned a verdict after just three hours of deliberations.

In a case of strange bedfellows, Second Amendment absolutists want to strike down the laws under which Mr. Biden was convicted as unconstitutional, and Mr. Biden’s camp has not ruled out such an appeal. (Abbe Lowell, Mr. Biden’s lawyer, said after the verdict that “we will continue to vigorously pursue all the legal challenges available to Hunter.”) The constitutional argument might well succeed before this Supreme Court. We hope not: Allowing drug users to buy as many guns as they want, clearly at odds with legislative intent and reasonable interpretations of the Second Amendment, would be a grave mistake that makes communities across America less safe.

It never should have come to this. Mr. Biden could have spared his family and the country the spectacle of his trial by long ago pleading guilty, accepting full responsibility and asking for the court’s mercy at sentencing. Instead, he and his lawyers tried to make an unusual plea agreement that sought wider immunity for Mr. Biden from criminal liability; it fell apart last year under legitimate scrutiny from the federal judge in the case. In a state where his family is political royalty, Mr. Biden clearly hoped for jury nullification or a couple of holdouts moved by his struggles with addiction. Fortunately, the jury did its duty.

Addiction is a tragic disease that can rip even the richest and most powerful families apart. Kathleen Buhle, the defendant’s ex-wife, had to testify publicly about his destruction of their marriage, and his brother Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, was compelled to speak about their on-again, off-again relationship and his ugly descent into addiction. First lady Jill Biden sat through much of the trial.

And, yet, society’s compassionate response should not include leniency regarding gun safety laws. It was Hallie Biden who discovered the Colt Cobra .38 handgun in Mr. Biden’s truck outside her home as he slept, along with remnants of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. She testified about her “panicked” decision to dispose of the weapon in a grocery store trash can. “I didn’t want him to hurt himself and I didn’t want my kids to find it and hurt themselves,” she said. The point of the law at issue in Mr. Biden’s case is precisely to spare family members such awful dilemmas.

Ironically, President Biden spoke at a long-planned event on Tuesday afternoon about his administration’s commendable efforts to keep guns out of dangerous hands. He announced that the Justice Department has charged more than 500 defendants for violating gun-trafficking and straw-purchasing provisions under a law he signed two years ago. He also touted a new rule that will reduce the number of firearms sold without background checks. The president deserves credit for his record on guns and for promising not to pardon his son. He said in a Tuesday statement that he “will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.”

Hunter Biden faces another trial in Los Angeles on Sept. 5, this time on charges of failing to pay at least $1.4 million in federal taxes from 2016 through 2019, along with tax evasion and filing false tax returns. This will bring out more salacious details, including alleged criminal conduct after he claims he stopped using drugs. The Trump campaign can’t wait.

Enough. It’s past time for Mr. Biden to finally take full personal responsibility for the consequences of his destructive behavior. He was clearly guilty of the three crimes a jury of his peers convicted him of. He needs to think less about his own interests and more about what’s best for his father’s reelection hopes — and the country.

— The Washington Post

June 14, 2024
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