The son of US President Joe Biden is facing indictment in the middle of the election campaign and is increasingly becoming a political liability for his father. Hunter Biden is accused of making false statements during a gun purchase in October 2018 and concealing his drug addiction at the time. This emerges from the indictment against the 53-year-old, which was published yesterday in the state of Delaware.
Further legal problems could possibly follow due to suspected tax offenses. This poses a problem for Democrat Joe Biden's campaign for a second term.
Hunter Biden has been making negative headlines for years: alcohol addiction, drug addiction, shady business deals, legal disputes with an ex-stripper over support for an illegitimate child. The charges against him in connection with the arms purchase are now the climax in a long series of escapades.
In an autobiography published in 2021, Hunter Biden himself made his stumbling on many levels astonishingly open. This is also why the gun purchase in 2018 subsequently became his undoing. Since he said he was still using drugs at the time, he was not allowed to purchase the Colt Cobra revolver. The charge against him now includes three counts: making a false statement when making a purchase, making false statements to the dealer and possessing a weapon despite illegal drug use.
The long history
Hunter Biden has long been in the crosshairs of the judiciary. Investigations against him had been ongoing for years, including for possible tax offenses. In June, the public prosecutor's office in Delaware finally published formal allegations against the president's son. Specifically, it was about the push against gun rights - and the fact that he allegedly failed to pay his federal income tax of more than $100,000 on time in 2017 and 2018. At that time, the public prosecutor initially announced that they had reached an agreement with Hunter Biden to avoid a trial in both cases. However, that deal fell through at a court hearing at the end of July.
In mid-August, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special investigator in the case: David Weiss, who had previously investigated Hunter Biden, was given additional powers and pushed the investigation further. A second indictment in connection with the tax offenses could still follow.
The importance for the election campaign
The fact that the son of a sitting US president is indicted is in itself highly unusual - if not unprecedented. And it is politically sensitive. This is even more true in these times: in the middle of his father's efforts for a second term in office and shortly after the filing of several historic charges against former US President Donald Trump.
At a time when the country is politically divided like never before and the distrust in public institutions is enormous, prominent Republicans have raised the accusation in recent months that there is a two-tier judiciary in the USA: while the leading political competitor of the incumbent If the president were to be removed through legal means, the president's son would be treated with kid gloves, they claimed. The fact that Hunter Biden is now being charged with an unlawful gun purchase does not go far enough for the radicals in the Republican Party.
The Republican far-right MP and ardent Trump loyalist, Marjorie Taylor Greene, raised the question yesterday on Platform The Republicans around Trump have been using Hunter Biden for political attacks against his father for years. Now they get plenty of new material for it.
Trump himself, in turn, gleefully complained on his Truth Social platform that the Democrats had opened Pandora's Box with their legal witch hunt against him. "So sad!"
The other problem
In the US House of Representatives, Republicans have been pushing ahead with investigations into Hunter Biden's dubious financial dealings for months. And just a few days ago, the Republican chairman of the Chamber of Congress, Kevin McCarthy, announced under pressure from the right wing of his group that he had now ordered concrete investigations for possible impeachment proceedings against the president - because of his son's alleged involvement in dubious foreign dealings.
The Republicans have not yet presented any evidence of this, and the campaign currently has no prospect of success. But the Republicans could simply carry the investigation well into the election year in order to continually produce unpleasant headlines for Biden. Those from the trial against Hunter Biden are now added.