To hear President Joe Biden’s supporters tell it, Hunter Biden was finally held accountable Tuesday, and the long national nightmare of him facing any scrutiny at all can finally end.
This accountability for the president’s son, however, was little more than a chiding for offenses that have virtually nothing to do with the serious allegations the Department of Justice should actually be pursuing — like giving a speeding ticket to “the getaway driver after a bank robbery,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley remarked.
Over the past two weeks alone, congressional Republicans have revealed a paid, “highly credible” FBI informant’s report that $10 million was paid in bribes to Hunter and his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, by Ukrainian oligarch and Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky.
Zlochevsky called the then-vice president “the big guy,” a nickname also used in the Biden family’s allegedly corrupt China dealings. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, revealed the existence of two audio recordings Zlochevsky reportedly made of Joe Biden (and another 15 he made of Hunter) discussing their dealings, which Zlochevsky reportedly kept as a sort of “insurance policy” that he’d get what he was paying for.
What was he paying for? Emails from the chairman of Burisma (revealed three years ago) show “the ultimate purpose” of “the deliverables” was “to close down for any cases/pursuits against [Burisma’s president] in Ukraine.” That case was indeed closed down, when Vice President Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor pursuing Burisma.
Congressional investigators also revealed that Hunter helped Burisma executives open an account for their transactions at Satabank, a Maltese bank closed down two years later by the Maltese government for “gross deficiencies” in policing money laundering and following laws on terrorist financing. Some of the government’s suspicions involved the banks dealings with Burisma, which prosecutors said smacked of money laundering.
Again: This is over the past two weeks alone.
But Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, says all this new news is actually old news, and anyway, former Attorney General Bill Barr’s handpicked guy shut down these investigations years ago.
According to Barr himself, that’s not true at all: “On the contrary,” he told The Federalist, “it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”
Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby isn’t concerned about accusations of foreign bribery either, telling The Daily Caller that the reports don’t worry him (though he also says he hasn’t read them).
Democratic Oversight member Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., doesn’t think there’s anything for Congress to look into, telling Fox News’ John Roberts that the House Oversight Committee should take a back seat to investigations of presidential corruption and let the FBI take the wheel.
But while a June poll by the Trafalgar Group found more than half of those surveyed think the Biden family has taken bribes from foreign nationals, the FBI doesn’t really want to talk about it. Congressional Republicans had to begin contempt proceedings against FBI Director Christopher Wray to elicit any cooperation at all, and even then the FBI redacted mention of the audio recordings (from a document that isn’t even classified), and made committee members view it in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF.
It’s worth repeating: All of this has happened in the past two weeks alone.
So what is the much-vaunted Department of Justice doing, anyway? The DOJ wrote in a Tuesday letter to a Wilmington court that Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two tax offenses, and “has agreed to enter a Pretrial Diversion Agreement” for lying on a gun application and possessing an illegal firearm.
To summarize, Hunter Biden is accused of foreign influence peddling and taking (and coordinating) bribes for himself, his uncle, and his powerful father to the tune of millions of dollars. He (and his father, who was then vice president) are accused of working to shut down an investigation into a Ukrainian oligarch’s oil company by getting the prosecutor fired. And today, the DOJ accepted a guilty plea on what The Washington Post calls “two minor tax crimes,” and admitted to the basic facts around the gun case, agreeing to enter “diversion programs” and serve two years probation.
At long last, Hunter Biden is in the clear. He has answered for his crimes, and his father has shown his commitment to the rule of law and the principle that no man is above the law. It’s all over.
At least that’s what Hunter’s legal team reportedly thinks, according to CBS. And it fits with congressional Democrats’ long-running claims that there’s nothing to see here, and even if there is it’s already been investigated and it’s fine, so let’s move on.
“A thousand GOP hacks,” Substacker Matt Yglesias tweeted Tuesday morning, “[are] crying in their soup over the loss of their dearly beloved ‘what about Hunter Biden’ talking points.” After all, how can anyone complain of a double standard for one former president getting raided and arrested, while another president’s kid gets off with a deal? (For added spice, former President Donald Trump’s court date was announced the same day the DOJ announced its deal with Hunter.)
Maybe there’s more coming. After all, investigations take time. Indeed, the U.S. attorney for Delaware has contradicted Hunter’s team’s expectations, telling Fox News that “the investigation is ongoing.”
But there’s more than a little reason to be skeptical that anything will come of it. The investigations of Hunter Biden have been so plagued by delays and slow-walking and irregular investigative activity, whistleblowers from both the IRS and the FBI have come forward complaining to Congress. It took these whistleblowers and the documents they produced, plus the legitimate threat of contempt, to force the FBI to offer Congress the scantest of cooperation.
Tuesday’s plea deal is the equivalent of taking a watering can to a house fire and calling yourself a firefighter. They will do that anyway, of course. Far from a sign of justice to come, expect today’s ruling to serve as a cudgel for Biden partisans across the DOJ and the corporate media to hit outraged (and out-of-power) Republicans with. Justice served, indeed.