In the hilarious 1955 classic, The Trouble with Harry, a group of people in a small New England town struggle over what to do with a body that keeps popping up. In one scene, the character Capt. Albert Wilesa declares “Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.”
President Joe Biden has clearly taken Capt. Wilesa’s words to heart. In an interview with MSNBC, President Biden repeated the same mantra that he has maintained since the 2020 election when his son’s laptop revealed an array of possible criminal acts: Hunter has “done nothing wrong.”
In the interview, Biden declared “My son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him, and it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.”
As with media over the last four years, MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle did not challenge the clearly absurd statement. Instead, she prefaced her question by stressing that there are “no ties to you” in any of his son’s alleged crimes. That is of course ignoring the mounting evidence of influence peddling, repeated references to the involvement of the president, and reports of a whistleblower alleging the President’s involvement in a bribery scheme.
However, it was Ruhle’s shrug to Biden’s claim that was the most glaring part of the low-risk interview. There is, of course, much that Hunter did “wrong.” Let’s just rattle off a few notable examples.
Tax violations: Hunter clearly did not pay his taxes and reportedly relied upon a wealthy friend of the family to pay millions after the Justice Department zeroed in on his financial dealings.
Gun violation: Hunter clearly lied on a form as part of a gun transaction on Oct. 12, 2018, when he answered “no” to the question, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
FARA violations: While leaks from the Justice Department have omitted any charges for being an unregistered foreign agent, the evidence against Biden appears as strong as past cases brought against others, including Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort. The emails show an array of foreign interests, including some with ties to foreign intelligence, paying Biden handsomely for his work and ties to his father. The emails also show Biden reaching out to top Obama Administration officials, including Antony Blinken, as part of this work.
What is also notable is that Biden’s claim is only plausible before any conviction or plea. However, it also suggests that we define what is right or wrong by what is criminal. That is a chilling view for any person, let alone a president, in defining the permissible range of conduct.
Most people would include the following as wrong even without collateral criminal acts (which could also exist).
Prostitution. Hunter Biden documents with astonishing detail his hiring of prostitutes and even may have used joint accounts or cards with his father to pay for such services.
Failure to Pay Child Support. While President Biden has continued to refuse to acknowledge his grandchild, Navy, his son has spent years fighting paternity and child support. President Biden has long campaigned against “deadbeat Dads,” but did not utter a word of concern when his son spent years resisting recognizing or supporting his daughter until a settlement was raised with the help of a court. He is now trying to reduce those payments.
This list does not include drug use in my view. Most of us are sympathetic with people who develop drug addictions. Hunter appears to have been able overcome addictions to alcohol and drugs as did his sister.
However, the biggest “wrong” is the one that Biden does not want to acknowledge because the President was the object of the wrongful conduct.
Influence Peddling. Both the Bidens and the media are eager to tie off the Hunter Biden controversy, even with the necessity of a narrow criminal indictment or plea. The hope is that a plea could be used to declare the matter closed without having to address millions of dollars reportedly generated in one of the most flagrant influence peddling operations in history.
The spin has already begun as pundits and press repeat over and over again that influence peddling is not a crime. It is true that it is not a crime in itself, but it is common for criminal acts to be committed in carrying out or concealing such influence peddling.
Putting aside any collateral crimes, however, influence peddling is still a form of corruption. Hunter Biden, his uncle James, and other Biden family members are implicated in receiving massive payments from foreign “clients” seeking to influence then Vice President Joe Biden.
It may be the favorite form of corruption in Washington, but it is still corrupt. It is still, in the President’s words, “wrong.”
I do not fault the President for defending his son. However, to paraphrase the common statement on sin, you can hate the wrong and love the wrongdoer.
This column also appeared on Fox.com.