Hunter Biden made history last week by becoming the first child of a sitting US president to be indicted on federal criminal charges.
The indictment is brief, said Andrew Prokop on Vox, because the facts are quite simple. When Hunter bought a handgun in 2018, he filled in a form stating that he wasn't a user of illegal drugs. In reality, he was hooked on crack cocaine at the time. It was "a seemingly clear case of an open-and-shut crime", yet prosecutors initially had no plans to charge him for it.
Under a deal agreed in June, Hunter was set to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanours, while the gun case would be dropped provided he kept his nose clean for two years. But a judge dismissed that plea deal on technical grounds, and talks to revive it collapsed. Whether because they belatedly concluded that the initial deal was too generous, or whether they were pressured by Republicans, prosecutors "have now decided to go after Hunter more aggressively".
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'Trust in the rule of law'
Hunter's legal team has had the nerve to complain that he's the victim of political meddling, said The Wall Street Journal. That's a joke. The prosecutors' mistake "was not treating his case like any other from the start". Maybe America can now "begin to regain trust in the rule of law", said The New York Post.
But it's an added problem for Joe Biden, who is now also facing an impeachment inquiry into whether he illegally profited from business deals involving his son. The president "routinely crusades on the need for tough gun laws like the ones that could now send his son away for a decade or more".
'If he wasn't a Biden he wouldn't be charged'
It's not true to claim that Hunter is finally being treated like anyone else would be, said Harry Litman in the Los Angeles Times. These sorts of gun felony charges are only ever pursued in cases where the firearms are used to commit other crimes, or where defendants are known to be particularly dangerous. "This indictment over an isolated lie by a relatively harmless firearm applicant seems to be without precedent."
If Hunter's surname weren't Biden, he probably wouldn't be facing these charges, agreed David A. Graham in The Atlantic. Then again, without his famous name, he also wouldn't have made a fortune as a board member of a Ukrainian gas company – a job he was singularly unqualified for – or subsequently "sold his novice paintings for six-figure prices". Hunter has done very well from his proximity to his father, but "the bill is coming due now".
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