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Thoughts on Hunter Biden's conviction

Unsurprisingly, a jury in Wilmington, Del., convicted Hunter Biden on all three counts in his first indictment, which charged him with felony violations of the federal gun laws.

The evidence against the president’s son was overwhelming. In light of this, Biden’s lawyers geared his defense toward pressing a Second Amendment claim on appeal. That is a legal defense, not an evidence-based defense fit for a jury trial.

It is based on the theory that the original understanding of the right to keep and bear arms does not abide robust prohibitions on gun possession by drug users. It is unlikely that this theory will ultimately rescue him. Far from a casual drug user, mountainous evidence established that Hunter Biden was (and is) addicted to illegal narcotics. The courts are likely to analogize addiction to mental illness, a condition that has long been considered justification for denying firearms possession. Even if the law is overbroad, the younger Biden’s case is a hard one to defend under the Second Amendment. Moreover, if the government has any power to determine whether drug use renders a person too dangerous to keep and bear arms, Biden is still stuck with his conviction for lying about his drug use on the required federal firearm-purchase form.

In any event, the Second Amendment was a non-factor at the trial. Judge Maryellen Noreika ruled against the constitutional claim in the pretrial motions. She further rejected Biden’s specious theory that he couldn’t be found to be an illegal user of narcotics unless the jury concluded that he was using cocaine at the very moment he purchased the gun and lied on the form.

This is a case that should never have gone to trial. The vast majority of similarly situated defendants would have pled guilty, accepted responsibility (in the argot of the federal sentencing guidelines), and reasonably expected a sentence of probation.

Not Hunter Biden. With the help of David Weiss, the indulgent prosecutor (named a “special counsel” by Biden DOJ Attorney General Merrick Garland after years of undermining the investigation of the president’s son), Hunter avoided prosecution for almost five years — i.e., nearly until the expiration of the statute of limitations. But Weiss’s sweetheart plea deal with defense lawyers unraveled when Noreika asked a few basic questions about it and discovered that the prosecutors had left key terms out of their submission. With the implosion of this effort to make the gun charges disappear (and to resolve the serious tax crimes as wrist-slapping misdemeanors with no prison time), Weiss had no choice but to file indictments.

A jury has now convicted Biden of the gun charges. Trial on the tax charges is slated to start on September 5 — just two months before Election Day, with early voting getting underway — unless a more realistic plea bargain is worked out.

The Biden camp’s claims that Hunter was unfairly singled out for gun prosecution are absurd. This was not a so-called lie-and-try case, in which an ineligible person (e.g., a drug addict, a prior felon, an illegal alien) applies to purchase a gun, lies on the form, and the lie is quickly discovered so the gun transaction is never consummated. Hunter Biden lied-and-succeeded: He got the gun and handled it irresponsibly — such that his then-girlfriend (and widow of his brother) took it from him and discarded it near a school, out of fear Biden would hurt himself and others. This is exactly the sort of situation for which these laws exist. To the extent Biden was singled out, it was for favorable treatment — others would have been prosecuted within weeks of the discovery of the crime.

Moreover, President Biden took a victory lap upon signing into law an increase of the potential prison sentence for the possession crime from ten years to 15 years. As for the lying-on-the-form offense, as Judiciary Committee chairman, then-senator Joe Biden bragged about pushing through an increase in the potential incarceration from five to ten years.

All that said, this is not an occasion for spiking the political football. The president’s son is not on the ballot. This sordid episode has nothing to do with how the Biden family has cashed in on Joe’s political influence. Along with his share of heartbreak and loss, Hunter has been given singular advantages and opportunities. He has squandered them — a living, breathing wrecking ball of arrogance, substance abuse, betrayal of his duties to his children, not to mention trading his father’s political influence for big paydays from agents of corrupt and anti-American regimes. His crash is a human tragedy.

Hunter Biden now faces not only sentencing later this summer on the gun charges and a reckoning on the tax charges, but also a referral to the Justice Department from the GOP-controlled House regarding what appear to be strong allegations of perjury — allegations that would still be ripe for prosecution if the DOJ is under new management come next January.

President Biden has publicly vowed that he will not pardon his son. We’ll see whether that commitment is still operative after November 5.

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