A good clue that Hunter Biden had no intention of actually staying and answering questions for the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday during the meeting he and his buddies crashed was that he needed to high-tail it right back to Los Angeles, to enter a plea in his tax case out there.
Hunter pleaded not guilty to nine federal tax charges, three of them felonies, on Thursday, and will go to trial starting June 20. This will be right in the middle of President Biden’s re-election campaign (such as it is). Of course, there’s always the possibility that a plea deal is forthcoming, but that really does look doubtful. As we’ve seen, Hunter and his legal team are very much into grandstanding, and Hunter may think a trial is just the thing. (We have to wonder, though, if the Biden campaign, not to mention Joe’s legal team, isn’t about ready to wring his neck.) A trial will also add more meat to the documentary about Hunter being produced by “sugar daddy” Kevin Morris.
The next hearing in the case is set for March 27. The verdict in the case will probably hit just a couple of months before the DNC Convention in August (which, for the record, we don’t think is going to nominate President Biden, anyway, for a number of reasons).
Hunter is charged with failure to pay $1.4 million in income taxes, despite being awash in money that he spent shall-we-say frivolously. It was paid back, not by him but by big-time Democrat donor Morris during Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign for President, not long after the two met at a donor event. (Note: are congressional committees continuing to look into potential FEC violations connected to this payoff? It sure looks like a campaign contribution, as it was obviously done as a “clean-up on Aisle 5” to help pave the way for Joe to run.)
Hunter met with the federal judge in Los Angeles for about 30 minutes and was described as “somewhat stoic” and “relatively relaxed.” Abbe Lowell is still trying to proceed as if that earlier, now-dead plea deal involving Special Counsel David Weiss in Delaware is still operative: “We have a resolution that things happened. It’s an unusual situation when the government says you don’t have a contract, and we say we do.”
No, Mr. Lowell, you don’t. (And give us a break. That comment is as inane as the one saying Hunter wants a public hearing because he’s all about “transparency.”) As an attorney on Weiss’s team said in the courtroom, “Pleas fall through all the time.”
You know how hard it is to scrape up money that the federal government is mostly going to shovel down various ratholes. That’s especially true if you are self-employed or a small business owner and have to write that check yourself. Hunter Biden is accused of paying NOT his taxes but (according to the Department of “Justice”)…
-- $1.6 million+ in ATM withdrawals
-- $683,000+ for “payments to various women”
-- $397,000+ for clothing and accessories
-- $188,000+ on adult entertainment
-- $237,000+ on health, beauty and pharmacy products
And this isn’t for all the years Hunter didn’t pay taxes --- just the years that the statute of limitations hasn’t run out on. The really big years when Biden was raking it in from being on the Burisma board aren’t included.
Hunter’s also being charged with federal firearms violations in Delaware after lying about drug use on his official application to buy a gun.
Last night on FOX NEWS, Trace Gallagher spoke with former deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, who’s now a Berkeley law professor, about Hunter going to trial in a California court. His answer isn’t what you might have expected.
“I think it’s actually crazy for Hunter and his lawyer to go to trial,” he said. “This is a disaster for his father and his family. Every day that this trial goes on, every day this story continues, it’s painting a story of somebody who didn’t pay their taxes --- $1.4 million? Over several years? As we’ve seen in early reports, people go to jail. Regular Americans who engage in this same kind of defiance of federal tax law go to jail. Sometimes they go to jail for years. Is Hunter Biden really going to try to beat the Justice Department on a claim that he’s been singled out, Yoo asked, when he’s really getting special treatment because his name is Biden?
As for Hunter’s surprise appearance at Wednesday’s contempt hearing in DC, Gallagher asked Yoo about what appears to have been a mistake by Hunter --- his tacit acknowledgement in answer to a question that his father had spoken on Speakerphone with his business associates at dinner. When President Biden was asked earlier by FOX NEWS’ Peter Doocy if he’d done this, Biden told him the accusation was “not true” and that Doocy had asked “a lousy question.”
Yoo sees this as another example of Hunter’s “terrible judgment.”
“I’m sure he thinks he’s being aggressive with Congress and the courts --- he’s just compounding all the problems he’s created for his father’s political and legal situation. Here he’s saying things which are drawing his father into hot water, are contradicting things that his father is saying, but also, more importantly, raising the specter that his dad IS involved in influence-peddling, that his dad might have received corrupt money, and now is even trying to --- maybe --- have [Hunter] not prosecuted for contempt of Congress, or not have his dad’s Justice Department do so, which will only feed the fires of the impeachment investigation that’s been going on in Congress.”
As for charging Hunter with contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena for a closed-door session like everybody else, Jonathan Turley suggests that Democrats might want to “reconsider the costs” of voting against that resolution. It’s a little late now, because Wednesday the full House voted to hold Hunter in contempt with (surprise!) every Democrat opposing the motion.
“Once again,” he says,” the party is short selling an institutional asset that they are likely to need in the near future if they retake the House. (Editorial aside: this scenario is hypothetical, of course. If the Democrats actually do retake the House, this country is likely done for, whether Democrats “short sell” or not.)
By refusing to hold Hunter in contempt, Turley argues, Democrats establish “that in the future, when Democrats are in control, witnesses will be able to unilaterally refuse to appear for depositions with committee staff and to dictate the conditions under which they will appear for testimony.” In other words, they’re diluting their own power.
Turley reminds his readers of other times the Democrats have done this, such as with their expedient rule change to allow most presidential nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority vote. They finally extended this even to Supreme Court nominees, and lived to regret it when they didn’t have the filibuster to block Trump nominees Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett.
Turley offers a host of other examples in this highly recommended column.
William McGurn made similar observations in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (by subscription, but you can and MUST read it at the link), and went on to talk about something called “inherent contempt,” which doesn’t require cooperation from the ‘Justice’ Department. It hasn’t been exercised since 1934, he said, but either chamber of Congress has the power to bring Hunter to the floor and try him there. If he’s found guilty, they can detain him under their own authority. How about that?
This authority was established in 1821 by the Supreme Court in Anderson v. Dunn, in which the justices held that it was essential to Congress’ ability to function as a legislative and deliberative body. Without this power, they ruled, Congress would be “exposed to every indignity and interruption that rudeness, caprice, or even conspiracy, may meditate against it.” That’s amazing --- how did these justices see 2024 in their crystal ball?