This week I wrote a column on a notable shift by political and media figures on the Hunter Biden scandal toward a last line of defense: the addiction defense. This shift is most obvious with President Joe Biden who spent years insisting that his son “did nothing wrong,” even bizarrely claiming that “no one has suggested that my son did anything wrong.” That defense was picked up by the White House.
Then it changed as prosecutors reportedly moved closer to criminal charges and the President no longer denied that his son did anything wrong but rather that he was an addict when he did allegedly criminal things. I called it the “seven percent solution” and it was on full (and uncontested) display in the President’s interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
The interview had some probing and interesting questions on issues like Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia but, for those eager to hear the President answer substantive questions on the scandal, the interview followed the past media pattern.
Tapper neither challenged the suggested defense (which has glaring problems) nor raised the allegations of a multimillion dollar influence peddling scheme by the Biden family.
Biden was asked about the possible criminal charges from David Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for Delaware, Biden immediately went to addiction and said that Hunter is now “on the straight and narrow.” He then repeated the same lines about addiction in the questions that followed:
“This is a kid who got, not a kid — he’s a grown man. He got hooked on — like many families have had happen, hooked on drugs. He’s overcome that. He’s established a new life…
…He is — I’m confident that he is — what he says and does are consistent with what happens. And for example, he wrote a book about his problems and was straightforward about it. I’m proud of him…
…He came along and said, by the way, this thing about a gun — I didn’t know anything about it. But turns out that when he made [an] application to purchase a gun, what happened was he say – I guess you get asked, I don’t guess, you get asked a question, are you on drugs or do you use drugs? He said no. And he wrote about saying no in his book.”
As discussed earlier, the most obvious problem with the addiction defense is that Hunter did not appear to have any chemical-based challenge in maintaining a global, multimillion-dollar influence-peddling scheme.
Not only is this possible prosecution not based on a drug offense, it would feature a high-functioning defendant who earned millions in influence peddling. Indeed, the now-sober Hunter has repeatedly acknowledged that while his family name may have led to some of his past positions, he is a lawyer with experience that was useful in work like serving on the board of Ukrainian energy conglomerate Burisma Holdings.
Moreover, using the addiction to defeat the gun and tax charges will only heighten questions about the influencing-peddling allegations. If Hunter was a hopeless addict incapable of criminal intent or sound decision-making, why were foreign interests clamoring at his door to give him millions of dollars as a board member, lawyer or consultant? Without skill or capabilities to sell, you are left with raw and open corruption to gain access to or influence with his father.
Yet, once again, CNN and Tapper did not ask President Biden about millions of dollars collected from foreign sources in what was a raw influence peddling scheme by his father.
He was not asked about allegations of the involvement of foreign intelligence figures in these dealings.
He was not asked about references to the President himself as receiving a percentage of the take. It seems that millions of dollars raised in an alleged corrupt enterprise with foreign interests involving his son and brother was not sufficiently newsworthy to even ask about in one of the few interviews granted by this president.
Tapper also did not ask the President about emails and other evidence directly contradicting his repeated claims that he knew nothing about any of these business dealings.
Weeks ago, I discussed the possible plea bargain on limited charges as the best case scenario not just for the Bidens but the media which has buried this scandal from the outset.
The most important element of that “controlled demolition” of the scandal is to avoid discussions of the influence peddling scheme and foreign sources of this money. The CNN interview proved the perfect framing of that demolition project by discussing the addiction defense but avoiding any discussion of past false statements by the President or his family’s involvement in influence peddling.
With these questions not being pursued by the media (and the inexplicable refusal of Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel), political and media figures are only enhancing the case for the GOP in seeking to use congressional oversight to look into these dealings after the midterm elections.
The Democrats recently blocked (again) efforts to investigate the dealings, but the GOP has made this a priority if they take the House. One of the greatest advantages to a Special Counsel (beyond the independence from main Justice) would have been the issuance of a report on these dealings.
Just as the media buried the Hunter Biden story before the 2020 election, it is now avoiding a full discussion of the foreign influence detailed on the laptop before the 2022 midterm elections. While the media now belatedly recognizes as authentic, it has a striking lack of interest what is contained in these emails. There just never seems a good time for the media to pursue the influence peddling scandal involving the Biden family.
I understand that Tapper had much to cover and I have previously praised him for his skills as an interviewer. No one would question his judgment in addressing such important issues as the threat of the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Moreover, Tapper was given a rare opportunity to interview a president who rarely does sit down interviews — leaving a host of matters to be addressed.
However, the President and his family have been implicated in a massive influence peddling scheme. Regardless of whether it is connected to criminal charges, it is the type of raw corruption that should be a concern for not just the public but the media. With the President’s past claims contradicted on his son and his own knowledge, it warranted greater attention given the President’s minimal access for sit-down interviews.