Forget inflation, abortion, job growth, or the economy. The real issue is who will be indicted first – Donald Trump or Hunter Biden?
The drumroll of accusations against Hunter Biden in the conservative media has been largely dismissed as political babble. No one on the left cared more about Hunter’s laptop than Hillary’s emails. The target was his father, the president.
The laptop story has grown a beard. The laptop was found in a Delaware computer repair shop in 2019 and discovered three weeks before the 2020 election. Its contents have been out of Hunter’s view for some time. but Rudy Giuliani claimed to have a hard copy of the content covering the period from 2009 to 2019 when Joe Biden was vice president, including 129,000 Hunter Biden-related emails, of which about 22,000 turned out to be genuine.
Giuliani gave them to the New York Post and said he offered three hard drives to the FBI, but the agency refused to accept them. Turns out the portable hard drive had something added both before and after the original New York Post story, and the FBI had previously obtained a laptop from a computer repair shop as part of a subpoena.
Hunter Biden’s business dealings investigation, in which he acted as a consultant to companies in China and Ukraine, seemed to be dying in the bud. But lately a broad federal investigation into Hunter, led by David Weiss, the remaining U.S. Attorney in Delaware, has gained momentum. Weiss is not a Trump fanatic. He served as a prosecutor in Delaware in the 1980s, returned to the small office in 2007 and stayed there for 11 years until Trump named him U.S. Attorney. When he came for confirmation, Delaware Democratic Senators Koons and Carper strongly supported him.
There are 93 US Attorneys in the country, who, although appointed for a term, serve at the behest of the President. When a new president takes office, everyone usually resigns or gets fired. Biden wisely kept two in place: John Durham, investigating the origins of Russiagate, and Weiss, investigating the president’s son.
Many citizens have come to terms with Hunter Biden’s corrupt narrative. Others scoff at the accusations as politically motivated. But here’s the thing, as the man said: what kind of case against Hunter Biden can Weiss take?
Hunter faces the weak charge of being in possession of a firearm while “addicted to a controlled substance”. Understanding this offense will be difficult, which is why in the real world he is rarely accused. When and how long did Hunter have the gun? Was he addicted at the time? How addicted was he? All these questions raise reasonable doubts that would make prosecutors think.
There is also the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which makes it a federal crime to engage in lobbying or political activities for a foreign government or citizen without being registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department.
Hunter never checked in. And it smells of the fact that without any obvious skills and qualifications, he took exorbitant fees for a seat on the board of directors of the Ukrainian company Burisma. But was it political activity or lobbying?
Usually FARA violations deserve only a slap in the face. But Justice recently accused Trump ally Tom Barack and Trump supporters Rick Gates and Paul Manafort of FARA violations. How is Hunter Biden different from these other people with political connections?
Then there’s the old, but good, tax scam that brought down Al Capone. No one knows for sure how Hunter handled his taxes, although he recently paid off part of his tax liability. And no one knows if Weiss is considering tax charges against him. Time will show everything.
And there is speculation of money laundering as a result of Hunter’s recent art sales to anonymous buyers, the details of which are currently unknown.
In addition, there are charges our Attorney General may bring against former President Trump in connection with the January 6 uprising or classified documents seized in Mar-a-Lago.
Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe said Trump’s latest lawsuit to find a special search and seizure master in Mar-a-Lago was “very odd.” According to Tribe, “He’s kind of asking Merrick Garland to hold him accountable.”
There are at least five theories as to why Trump has yet to be charged, though the evidence that he instigated the Jan. 6 melee is overwhelming, not the least of which is Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before a House committee that Trump knew that the mafia was armed before sending them to Capitol Hill.
The first and most troubling is that Garland may, for some reason, let Trump bounce back. This is the banana republic argument. A former judge fiercely honoring precedent, Garland can take stock of Nixon’s pardon and believe that Trump’s indictment will deviate from a bad cause for the nation and the responsibility of the president by supporting the unfortunate proposal that former presidents should not be prosecuted for their excesses. while in the office.
The constitution declares that, upon leaving office, a rogue president “is responsible and liable to indictment, trial, sentence, and punishment in accordance with the law.” As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has made clear, this result should apply to Trump as well. “President Trump remains accountable for everything he did while in office,” he said in the Senate floor. “Nothing has gone yet. Of course, McConnell is right. The rule of law is the cornerstone of our democracy; it should be more than a slogan.
Or Garland may harbor some fears that Trump supporters could start civil unrest if their leader is indicted. About it, Professor Tribe says“I don’t underestimate the civil unrest that could follow the decision to indict Trump, but when the evidence for his inflammatory conspiracy and other federal crimes is as compelling as it seems, the decision not to indict him will be far worse.”
The public evidence against Trump seems to be getting stronger every day. According to the New York Times, several witnesses now say that Trump personally checked the boxes. If yes, then error protection or “Can I help if I hire such stupid people?” will be unavailable.
The second possibility is that Garland is still investigating the attack, trying to recruit actors who might cooperate, and waiting for the report of the House Select Committee, which has already made clear that it believes Trump is guilty.
And according to the New York Times, prosecutors are finally looking into the perpetrators of the attack and have “substantially expanded” the investigation beyond those who violated the Capitol. Clearly, while many believe there is an avalanche of evidence against Trump, Garland would like to develop an open and closed case.
A third possibility would be to file a civil charge against Trump. New York Attorney General Letitia James is considering filing a civil case against Trump on fraud charges. Trump recently used his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination nearly 450 times to testify in this case, and Garland may decide that the New York case will have the final say.
In a civil case, James just needs to prove his allegations with a lesser burden of “preponderance of evidence,” so why not roll the dice on the table, where the odds are better? But Trump has defended many civil lawsuits with great success over the years. He knows how the game is played and has always managed to win.
Then there is the possibility of a deal. More than 90 percent of federal indictments end in negotiated guilty pleas. Garland may seek a deal that will not face criminal charges against Trump, on the condition that he no longer run for public office. Trump is highly unlikely to accept such an agreement, but if the choice is between jail or a holiday in Mar-a-Lago, Trump may well give in.
Finally, it is possible that Garland decided to wait, that is, to do nothing for the time being. Such an approach smacks of recklessness. The closer we get to 2023, the more Trump can argue that any decision to prosecute is politically motivated. The delay is unlikely to prevent Trump from running again.
So how will this all end? I bet both cases will end up with some kind of settlement. For example, Hunter Biden will agree not to challenge FARA’s charges in exchange for a slap in the face. Trump will negotiate with James on charges of fraud, announce that he will not run for office and take some responsibility for the riots, after which he will claim that he was “finely” rehabilitated.
It has to end somewhere. An important component of the rule of law is finality. Perhaps the Garland Department of Justice will announce both charges on the same day.
James D. Zirin is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.