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Convictions of Biden and Trump's son put justice system on trial

Convictions of Biden and Trump's son put justice system on trial
Convictions of Biden and Trump's son put justice system on trial


Former President Donald J. Trump and his Republican allies sought to delegitimize criminal investigations into his actions by saying Democrats had weaponized the justice system. That claim only intensified after a jury convicted Mr. Trump last month of 34 crimes in a hush money case.

In pushing this narrative, they have tended to ignore an inconvenient fact: President Biden has not stopped the Justice Department's investigation into his own son. On Tuesday, the contradiction deepened when a jury found Hunter Biden guilty of three counts of lying about his drug use when he purchased a gun in 2018.

The verdict did not satisfy Republicans, who downplayed the outcome and continued to insist that Democrats have made the criminal justice system their partisan tool. But under enormous political pressure, 12 jurors in both cases appear to have taken their jobs seriously, weighing evidence and handing down convictions. The system seems to work more or less as it is supposed to.

Certainly, there is an argument to be made that Mr. Trump's hush money affair and Hunter Biden's gun affair were affected by politics. Both can be characterized as relatively marginal despite the abundance of evidence supporting charges that prosecutors might not have bothered to bring if the defendants had been nobodys. But it was in neither side's interest to make that point.

Instead, Democrats lined up after Hunter Biden's conviction to show how much they respected the criminal justice system, often explicitly emphasizing that they were not criticizing the case as prosecutorial abuse. Despite Republican denunciations of Mr. Trump's trial as a corrupt sham, they argued, politically prominent figures from both parties who commit crimes are convicted.

The division here is staggering and a reminder that one political party remains committed to the rule of law, and the other is not so simple, Rep. Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, said at a hearing Tuesday.

Mr. McGovern added: Republicans just can't wrap their heads around the idea that their presidential candidate, your presumptive nominee, is a convicted felon. This is not the result of a sham process or a vast conspiracy by the Biden administration.

Republicans, for their part, downplayed prosecutors' efforts to persuade a jury that found President Biden's son guilty of three crimes. The case was led by a Trump appointee, David C. Weiss, whom Attorney General Merrick Garland retained to handle the investigation and ultimately appointed a special counsel.

Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, offered brief, lukewarm praise of the verdict before reiterating his baseless claims that President Biden had been involved in a bribery scheme.

Today's verdict is a step toward accountability, but until the Justice Department investigates everyone involved in the alleged scheme, Comer said in a statement, it will be clear that the Ministry officials will continue to cover the president.

After the verdict, Mr. Biden expressed personal support for his son but said in a statement that he accepted the outcome of the case. He also referenced an interview with ABC News last week in which he said he would not use his official powers to pardon his son, if convicted.

As I also said last week, I will accept the outcome of this case and continue to respect the legal process while Hunter considers an appeal, Mr. Biden said.

But Karoline Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in a statement that the trial of the president's son was nothing more than a distraction from what she claimed without evidence were the real crimes of the Biden family.

In downplaying the outcome, some Republicans also pointed out that Mr. Weiss came close to striking what they called a sweetheart plea deal with Hunter Biden last year. The deal would have resolved both the gun issue and separate charges relating to his failure to pay taxes for several years during the depths of his drug addiction.

The deal collapsed after questions from a federal judge revealed the two sides disagreed on whether the agreement excluded new charges against Mr. Biden over other subjects. Mr. Weiss subsequently obtained felony indictments on both subjects; Hunter Biden is expected to go on trial for tax offenses in September.

Other Republicans simply ignored Hunter Biden's verdict. Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who heads the federal government's militarization subcommittee, declined through a spokesman to comment on the verdict.

Moments after Hunter Biden's conviction, however, Republican staff members of the Judiciary Committee led by Mr. Jordan announced that they would hold hearings this summer on the flaws in New York's case against Mr. Trump. Last month, a jury unanimously concluded that he falsified business records to conceal a hush-money sum paid to a porn actress during the 2016 election finale.

The committee also noted that it had obtained agreements for public testimony from the Manhattan district attorney who brought the case against Mr. Trump, Alvin L. Bragg, and from Matthew Colangelo, a white-collar prosecutor who participated in the trial. Mr. Colangelo had served as a Biden administration official at the Justice Department before accepting a position in Mr. Braggs' office in December 2022.

Democrats, however, took the opportunity to point out that Biden's Justice Department has also brought criminal charges against members of the president's party, including Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who is on trial on charges linked to corruption, and Representative Henry Cuellar. , a Texas Democrat indicted last month on corruption and money laundering charges.

Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on Mr. Comers' Oversight Committee, highlighted the differences in approach.

At the same hearing as Mr. McGovern, he noted that he had not heard a Democrat anywhere in the country screaming fraud, screaming rule, screaming rigging, screaming kangaroo court in response to the federal conviction of Hunter Biden, as the Republicans did after Mr. Trump. belief even as they pushed a conspiracy theory that President Biden was somehow in control of the state's affairs.

Compare and contrast the difference in reaction between Republicans and Democrats, Mr. Raskin said. Republicans are attacking our entire justice system and the rule of law because they don't like the way a case was resolved, while the son of the President of the United States is being prosecuted and I don't hear a word only Democrat to cry foul.

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting from Washington.




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