Hunter’s Collapsing World: Why a Criminal Plea Could Now be the Best Option for the Bidens

Below is my column in The Hill on the hearing today in Arkansas involving Hunter Biden and his daughter Navy Joan. President Joe Biden and the First Lady have refused to acknowledge their grandchild and her father is opposing her using the family name. A court will now have to decide whether this child can call herself a Biden and whether her father can reduce his level of financial support.

Here is the column:

This week, Hunter Biden’s defense team traveled to Delaware seeking an update on the federal criminal investigation that has dragged on for almost five years. The reason seems clear: Time is running out on Hunter and the Biden family.

After years of delaying disclosures and admissions, Hunter could now be pushing to cap off the criminal side of the scandal before more information is released in Arkansas and Washington. For the White House, even a criminal plea is preferred if they can avoid one particular claim — and they may be succeeding.

For years, the Bidens have worked (with the media’s help) to delay any recognition of the influence peddling and corruption that may be revealed on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Even this week, in child support proceedings in Arkansas, Hunter’s counsel continued to refuse to admit ownership of the laptop abandoned at The Mac Shop in Wilmington, Del., in April 2019.

It won’t work any more than his long refusal to acknowledge his fathering of his four-year-old child, Navy. Just as Hunter could not deny DNA, forensic and other evidence will soon make his laptop denials untenable in proceedings in which he and his counsel are required to tell the truth.

These proceedings are now colliding for the Bidens.

With the laptop being raised in Arkansas and being investigated in Washington by House committees, time is up and the Biden team knows it. An establishment of the laptop’s authenticity in one forum could produce cascading effects in the other forums.

There has already been a recent shift to a scorched-earth strategy, including reportedly threatening possible witnesses and calling for the IRS to investigate critics.

New leaks from the Justice Department investigation have indicated that prosecutors are considering four charges: two misdemeanor counts for failure to file taxes, a single felony count of tax evasion related to a business expense for one year of taxes and a potential felony count on falsifying a form linked to a gun permit.

Those four charges could well result in jail time, but the situation is likely to get worse for Hunter if the House reveals new evidence of foreign dealings and payments. That is why a capstone plea could control the damage for both Hunter and his father. A capstone is designed to protect against erosion and even help to hold together an arch that might otherwise collapse. This capstone plea could avoid a worse scenario (and charge) that would undermine years of denials by both Bidens.

However, there was one conspicuous omission from the list of potential charges that may also indicate a reason to push toward a plea. There is no mention of a charge as an unregistered foreign agent under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). The Justice Department aggressively used this charge against Trump figures like Paul Manafort and, if the same standard is applied, it is hard to see the basis for discarding the charge in the Hunter Biden case.

The laptop shows emails from various foreign sources, including some with close connections to foreign governments and intelligence services. There are also records of visits of clients and business associates to the White House as well as pictures with then-Vice President Joe Biden. Finally, there are emails showing Hunter reached out to high-ranking officials like Antony Blinken for “advice.” Now our secretary of state, Blinken was then deputy secretary of state.

However, a FARA charge would be embarrassing to both President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland. The claim that the president’s son was acting as a foreign agent would put a spotlight on the millions of dollars raised in alleged influence peddling.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky) has claimed that up to 12 Biden family members may have benefited from these foreign payments. Joe Biden was the object of that influence peddling, and the question would become what these foreign interests were seeking to get from their payments. Moreover, the most obvious reason not to register as a foreign agent was to conceal these dealings and avoid scrutiny over influence peddling.

While Democrats are now emphasizing that influence peddling is lawful, it is also clearly a form of corruption worthy of investigation. What’s more, efforts to conceal influence peddling are often criminal acts, including FARA violations. A criminal charge could put such motives before a jury — and the American public.

For Garland, a FARA charge would be equally embarrassing. The attorney general has refused to appoint a special counsel despite repeated references to the president as a possible recipient of these funds. There are even instructions to Hunter associates to use code names for Joe Biden like “the Big Guy” and “Celtic.” Some of us have criticized Garland for ignoring the undeniable need for a special counsel.

Capping off the scandal with a plea to a couple of tax charges and a gun form charge would minimize the damage before the 2024 election.

What happens then is anyone’s guess. As a first offender, Hunter could plead out such charges to minimal jail time. These are federal charges, so Joe Biden could pardon his son. Presidential pardons have a long and checkered history, including presidents using the power to benefit family members and political donors.

Notably, when President Clinton abused this power by pardoning his half-brother, he waited to do so until he was leaving office. Indeed, a criminal charge could create a weird end-game option for Biden. Hunter could wait to plead guilty. If he is not reelected, Biden could issue a Clintonesque pardon for Hunter on his way back to Delaware.

The pressures on the Bidens are both real and rising. With both the Arkansas court and the House committees threatening greater public disclosures, a bill is coming due, and the interest will only mount in the coming weeks.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

157 thoughts on “Hunter’s Collapsing World: Why a Criminal Plea Could Now be the Best Option for the Bidens”

  1. We keep hearing Indictments of Hunter are imminent….week after week and month after month…..yet nada!

    Why the delay?

    Where is the Lap Top?

    The Criminal Division of Treasury has been deluged with SARS Reports….exactly what have they done in response to all of that information?

    Remember the thing called Statute of Limitations …. is the DOJ going to suddenly say ….”Oh Golly Gee Whiz….we cannot charge on any of the crimes because of the SOL issue!”.

  2. Who on Earth still believes that this Democrat co-opted DOJ will ever prosecute a Biden? Anyway…Trump would be impeached by now. The GOP doesn’t even try. The Democrats seem to own the Republicans like China owns Biden.

    1. The GOP is the Washington Generals to the Harlem Globetrotters.
      A few MAGA stalwarts havent figured out they are just part of pure theatre, nothing else

    2. “The Democrats seem to own the Republicans”

      Since the Republicans in Congress are divided into “MAGA” and “Globalists”, you don’t see a united GOP. For example: Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) wanted to subpoena father and 1st son Biden in the course of “Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns” investigation in 9/20, but didn’t get the approval of then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), because it was too political, two months prior election.

      Instead, they either write letters (to the editor) like this one [1] to Sec Antony Blinken …

      “Because your testimony is inaccurate, Congress and the public must rely on your records as the source for information about your dealings with Hunter Biden. As such, you must
      preserve and provide all records, referring or relating to Hunter Biden, his business dealings, or his family’s business dealings, including but not limited to correspondence sent or received from your personal email accounts and phones, to include those of Ms. Ryan.22 These records will help provide the public a complete picture and understanding of the extent of your apparent deceptions. We request you and Ms. Ryan produce these records no later than May 15, 2023.”

      or floating around thought like “looking to impose penalties ranging from possible impeachment of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whom former CIA Director Mike Morell testified ‘triggered’ the effort, to defunding federal contracts and security clearance for the security and intelligence officials who signed their name to the letter.” [2]

      Meanwhile, Trump is increasingly disconnecting from the RNC:
      * CNN presidential town hall event at St. Anselm College, NH on 5/10/23
      * 2nd MAGA Rally in his ’24 campaign will be in DesMoines, IA on 5/13/23, while Governor DeSantis (R-IA) stops in Sioux Center and Cedar Rapids the same day.
      * He might skipping either one or both of the first two Republican presidential primary debates in 8/23, but did not completely shut it down (though he bristled at the before Labour Day dates).


    3. @Defiant…

      You impeach Biden… who’s the next in line?
      Can you say Kamel Toe is his job security policy?


      1. Impeachment is only an indictment made in the House. The trial then takes place in the Senate. No way would the demonicrat run Senate ever convict Xiden. I don’t think that it makes any difference if Commie-la sits behind the Resolute Desk. She would be following orders from the same cabal which controls Xiden. The only question left is – which one is more embarrassing.

    4. DOJ will do little if anything. The main reason the RINOs and Globalists won’t do anything is 1) 50% are deep state lovers and liberal 2) 45% afraid of own shadow and fear what the press and dems would do to them if Biden impeached. 3) remaining conservative 5% get silenced. GOP will punish their own but not touch the Democrats.

      1. 1. Apart from that: Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) doesn’t have the votes for any impeachment inquiry, like DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 2. It’s only a waste of time, as nobody will be removed. 3. Speaker doesn’t even manage to publish J6 video footage, subpoena Hunter Biden and is happy if he gets one or the other bill through (which is vetoed by # 46 anyway).

  3. Many comments deal with Brandon’s role in politics: When Joe Biden was running for a DEL US-Senate seat in 1972, he saw this as ticket to personal and family wealth [1]

    “You run the risk of deciding whether or not you’re going to prostitute yourself to give the answer you know they want to hear in order to get funded for office. I went to the big guys (sic!) for money. I was ready to prostitute myself in the manner in which I talk about it.”

    “The Senator from MNBA” [2] championed the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act” that made declaring bankruptcy for consumer much more complicated and more challenging to obtain.

    What was his son Hunter’s 1st job after graduating from Yale Law School and passing the Delaware bar exam?

    Since Brandon sees public office as a vehicle for prosperity, he has no access for conflicts of interest. His reply to a journalist’s question if it was appropriate to have your son (labeled from collegues as “Senator MBNA”) collecting money from this big credit card company while you were on the floor protecting its interests: “Absolutely not, he came home to work for a bank rather than working as a Wall Street fora much higher salary”


  4. I wish I could believe that the Biden crime family will be punished in any sort of meaningful way.

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