Don’t be taken in by the announcement by Special Counsel David Weiss that before the end of the month he will indict Hunter Biden on a felony gun charge (i.e., that he lied on a gun application), the same charge an earlier collapsed plea deal would have taken care of with a promise to behave himself.
Back in July, Federal District Judge Maryellen Norieka wouldn’t allow the plea because, for no apparent reason, it also called for immunity from prosecution for all other crimes the junior Biden may have committed.
The announcement just continues the DOJ’s rope-a-dope treatment of the allegations of Hunter Biden’s criminality. It will delay and obscure things, drawing attention towards relatively insignificant issues but away from the significant ones.
We rather think that most people really don’t care whether or not Hunter Biden violated the handgun application law – except, of course, if he got favorable treatment. What they likely do care about is whether he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires that persons who engage in specified activities within the United States on behalf of a foreign principal register with and disclose those activities to the Department of Justice.
During the aforementioned Delaware federal court hearing, a prosecutor confirmed to Judge Norieka that Biden is being investigated over a potential FARA violation. According to media reports, there is no record of his registration despite the allegations that he lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of foreign companies, including Ukrainian ones. An unavoidable byproduct of a deep dive into the lobbying question would necessarily disclose whom he lobbied on behalf of his clients. It would also be of great interest to learn the specifics of any possible tax charges which would flesh out the lobbying picture.
Lurking in the background is the overarching question of what part President Joe Biden may have played in Hunter Biden’s activities, and whether the original “sweetheart deal” plea agreement was the product of a DOJ cover up.
The legal issues now being raised by Hunter Biden’s lawyers over what may or may not have survived the rejected July plea deal will likely add to the already slow and often exasperating pace of litigation.
And yet, we firmly believe there is a strong public interest in ferreting out President Biden’s possible business involvement with Hunter Biden and the alleged possible cover up. We are reminded of how John J. Sirica, another federal judge, handled similar challenges as the trial judge in the Watergate scandal.
Throughout his conduct of the Watergate trials, Judge Sirica made it clear that he intended to get at the truth of what the Watergate burglary was all about, and said he would not be bound by the traditional ideas of courtroom procedures. He often questioned witnesses himself when he felt federal prosecutors were holding back, and when he thought that the witnesses themselves were holding back he went on the investigative attack.
As the Watergate case unfolded, it became clear that there was more to it than initially thought. Ultimately, 19 officials of the Nixon administration and reelection campaign, including two of Nixon’s closest aides, went to jail. Seen as the result of Judge Sirica’s aggressiveness, critics contended that he had overstepped his bounds; but his conduct was approved enthusiastically by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: “Judge Sirica’s palpable search for the truth in such a trial was not only permissible, it was in the highest tradition of his office as a federal judge.”
If the course of the Hunter Biden saga thus far is any indication, we fear that without the intervention of a Judge Sirica, the answers to questions critical to our democracy will get lost in the ether.