It was a good day for the outrage machine Tuesday, which means, of course, it was just like any other day in America.
As you may have heard, Hunter Biden is not going to prison, or at least not any time soon. And that news, according to those in Trumpworld and other GOP environs, is a crime against truth and justice and mostly, well, against them.
I think the logic goes this way: Since prosecutors across the country have either charged Donald Trump with major crimes or are expected to in the near future, shouldn’t at least one Biden also face the threat of prison? And wouldn’t two Bidens be even better?
And yet, after years of investigating the president’s son, all the Justice Department could come up with were two misdemeanor charges for Biden’s failure to pay his taxes from 2017 and 2018 and for an unrelated charge of buying a handgun while addicted to drugs.
If a judge approves the deal, Biden will get probation for the tax charges — he eventually did pay the taxes and penalties and interest — and won’t face the gun charge if he is drug-free for the next 24 months and agrees never to buy another gun.
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If it had been someone else, the GOP outrage might have centered on a soon-to-be-fully-weaponized IRS hounding yet another American citizen. Or one more American being denied basic, God-given Second Amendment rights.
In this case, the outrage is that the Biden charges mentioned nothing about Burisma or China or bribes or laptops or Ukraine or the Biden Crime Family, which is headed, of course, by the Big Guy, who presumably fixed it so his son gets away with anything short of murder and doesn’t have to spend even a single day in a prison jumpsuit.
Meanwhile, the argument goes, Trump is being set upon by his political opponents because he’s the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 election. In other words, Joe Biden must be the real danger to American democracy.
I guess that’s one theory. As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy put it to reporters at the Capitol, “If you are the president’s leading political opponent, the DOJ tries to literally put you in jail and give you prison time. If you are the president’s son, you get a sweetheart deal.”
We might disagree about the magnitude of the alleged crimes. But I think we can agree that Hunter Biden — to whom the adjective “troubled” is generally applied, particularly for his years struggling with drug addiction — has long traded on his father’s name and has kept, shall we say, more than a little sleazy company on the road to enriching himself.
He has also been a fixation of long standing for Trump, meaning he would also become a fixation of all the little Trumpists, who desperately want to tie Joe Biden to his son.
You may recall that it was Trump’s, uh, perfect phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — the one in which Trump pushes for more investigation of Burisma, a corrupt energy company, and its ties to the Bidens — that led to Trump’s first impeachment. I guarantee Trump remembers it.
Here’s Trump on Truth Social, reacting to the news: “The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN!”
Yes, so many years of crimes and still, David Weiss, the Trump-appointed Delaware U.S. attorney leading the investigation, couldn’t seem to find anything to charge past the taxes and the guns. The Justice Department did put out a news release on the charges, though. And if you read all the way through, you might see a one-sentence declaration that “The investigation is ongoing.”
I’m not sure what that means. But I know it wasn’t enough to satisfy Lauren Boebert, who tweeted that she couldn’t understand why there had been no raid on Biden’s “crackhouse.” Sure, fair is fair. If they’re going to search Mar-a-Lago to retrieve highly classified national-security documents, why not raid a crackhouse?
Of course, we’re not exactly done with Hunter Biden’s crackhouse — does he still have one and, if so, does it have a chandelier in the bathroom? — or, for that matter, with Burisma and the laptop and the so-called Biden Crime Family.
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As you know, the U.S. House Oversight Committee, led by James Comer, R-Kentucky, has been all over the Bidens, and yet, to this point, seems to have come up with even less than the Justice Department. If you listen to right-wing media, you may have heard about the so-called whistleblower and the so-called $5 million bribe and the so-called audio tapes that may not actually even exist. We’re still waiting for some actual evidence.
But Comer, who said Tuesday that Hunter Biden received a “slap on the wrist,” would go on to say, “We will not rest until the full extent of President Biden’s involvement in the family’s schemes are revealed.”
Crimes, schemes, take your choice.
The truth is that the timing of the announcement on Hunter Biden couldn’t have come at a better time for Trump, who had gone on Fox News with Bret Baier the night before and basically admitted that he had failed to comply with the Justice Department subpoena for the documents they were seeking. And you wonder why he’s having so much trouble finding lawyers.
And Trump’s reasoning? He just couldn’t find the time — come on, he was busy — to remove any personal items from the now infamous stacks of boxes.
As Trump put it in the interview, “But before I send boxes over, I have to take all my things out of them. These boxes were interspersed with all sorts of things — uh, golf shirts, clothing, pants, shoes, there were many things.”
Columnist Jonathan Chait summed it up nicely in a New York magazine headline: “I Committed Obstruction Rather Than Hand Over Golf Pants by Mistake.”
At this time, we don’t know the status of Trump’s golf pants. Or whether Hunter Biden has committed more serious crimes. What we do know is that we’ll be hearing about both of them for many months — it already seems like hundreds of years — before we’re done.
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