Hunter Biden is not accused of new misconduct. So why was he just charged again?

FILE - Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, leaves after a court appearance, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del.  Hunter Biden has been charged with gun possession.  A federal indictment filed in Delaware says Biden lied about his drug use when he bought a firearm in 2018 while struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

(Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

Hunter Biden is not accused of new misconduct. So why was he just charged again?

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Harry Litman

Dec. 11, 2023

It’s not necessarily sinister when a prosecutor offers an attractive plea deal to a defendant and then throws the book at him. Many defendants have seen that happen after they rejected a plea deal or after authorities presented new evidence.

But the reasons for the dramatic change in Hunter Biden’s case are more unusual and troublesome.

Under a nine-count indictment filed by special counsel David Weiss in Los Angeles last week, Biden faces new and much more serious charges for the very same conduct that was the subject of a favorable settlement in July. The deal would have required the president’s son to plead guilty to two tax violations while dismissing a weapons charge if Biden could stay out of trouble for a year.

The failure of that deal is one reason for the new charges against Biden. Sloppy lawyering on both sides resulted in an agreement that appeared to require the judge to decide whether to file or dismiss the weapons charges, a typical executive function that could violate the separation of powers. She rightly refused, and the parties were no longer able to put the pieces together.

The important point is that unwinding the deal had nothing to do with Biden. He was, in fact, an innocent bystander to the disturbance.

Biden’s second bad break came as a result of the Justice Department’s special counsel regulation and Att

orne

j. Gen.

eral

Merrick Garland’s determination to stay and appear apolitical.

The department applies the principle that equal suspects must be treated equally. If a prosecutor proposes to charge a crime much more severely or leniently than in previous cases, she better have a compelling reason. The departments have a multi-layered supervisory structure

tax tax

ensuring the consistency that is a hallmark of equal justice. Even an American attorney in the position Weiss previously held

former president

Trump and President Biden could be overruled in a high-profile case if he deviates from standard practice.

However, that supervisory structure was not relevant here. At one time, Weiss requested special counsel status and

Atty. General Merrick

Garland allowed it in August, he acquired a fiefdom within the department where no one could question his decisions.

The consequences were enormous for Biden. I searched long and hard without finding such a tough case against another defendant like him, one who failed to pay taxes while in the depths of drug abuse and later paid them back with interest and penalties.

This indicates a serious abuse of prosecutorial discretion. Weiss may have the raw power to prosecute the case as he did, but to do so would violate the core principle of equal treatment of suspects.

Which brings us to the third and most unnerving potential reason for the new federal case against Biden. The maximalist indictment, which includes all kinds of unnecessary jabs at Biden’s promiscuous behavior in the throes of drug addiction, comes after Republicans in Congress brutally attacked Weiss over the prospective plea deal.

A number of Republicans in the House of Representatives want to see Hunter Biden in the stock. It goes without saying that such a partisan party

bloodlust bloodlust

has no place in federal tax decisions.

But it gets worse. Republicans in Congress are trying to use the new charges to help justify an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, despite the absence of any compelling evidence linking the president to his son’s misconduct.

It would be controversial but not unheard of to target one family member to catch the criminal behavior of another family member. It would be outrageous to do so in the service of a deeply questionable political endeavor, such as the move toward impeaching President Biden.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, responded with outrage to the allegations and vowed to take the government to court. The problem is that the law provides very little room to challenge the likelihood of prosecutorial decisions. Claims of vindictive prosecution are limited to strict terms that do not apply here.

Hunter Biden has been to hell and back in recent years. He may be heading that way again through no fault of his own and for reasons that seem purely political.

Harry Litman is the host of the

Talking Feds Podcast

.

@harrylitman

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