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Double whammy of investigation and indictment creates difficult time for Biden

In just over 48 hours this week, President Biden faced a dual onslaught of political and personal setbacks, as his son’s business dealings and personal struggles created new turbulence at a time when his advisers wanted bring attention to former President Donald’s problems. Trump and the House Republicans.

On Thursday, Biden’s son Hunter was charged with making false statements and illegal possession of a handgun, setting the stage for a criminal trial that could unfold as Biden seeks re-election. This came two days after House Republicans opened a formal impeachment inquiry into whether the president benefited from his son’s business dealings, although they produced little or no evidence to this effect.

This is what the impeachment inquiry means

Neither the investigation nor the indictment was unexpected, but the subsequent developments underscored the challenges Biden faces as he seeks a second term. He faces no serious competition for the Democratic nomination, but some Democrats are increasingly concerned about his vulnerabilities, including his age, as polls show a tight race between him and Trump, the front-runner for the nomination. Republican.

The legal and political clouds hanging over Hunter Biden now add to these problems. “It’s still a concern,” former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), a Biden ally, said of the Hunter Biden indictment. “It takes a toll on him and the whole family. The fact is that this president has made a point of letting the Justice Department do its job and not intervening. The chips will fall where they are going to fall.

Trump’s criminal trials stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his alleged mishandling of classified documents have largely overshadowed Biden’s challenges thus far. But an impeachment inquiry and the indictment of a member of his immediate family, especially in such rapid succession, represent a pair of historic setbacks for a president, a reality that could become more evident with the official launch of the proceedings in court and at the Capitol.

Jones said he believes the trial will result in a favorable resolution for Hunter Biden. In the meantime, he predicted, the president will remain focused on selling his record to voters.

“It’s important and historic,” the former senator said of Biden’s accomplishments. “That’s what he’s going to run on.” I don’t think the American people will care if a son is charged with a gun offense.

Hunter Biden’s indictment follows the failure of a plea deal in which he would have pleaded guilty to two tax crimes while admitting to illegal possession of the gun, but without pleading guilty to that offense.

The deal likely would have allowed him to avoid prison time. Instead, Hunter Biden could now face trial in the midst of his father’s re-election campaign, and it remains possible he could face new indictments on tax charges.

Hunter Biden’s legal team says the plea deal fell through due to pressure from right-wing Republicans who complained that the president’s son was getting off easy.

“As expected, prosecutors today filed charges that they believed were unwarranted only six weeks ago following a five-year investigation into this matter,” said Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s attorney. , in a press release. “The evidence in this case has not changed in the last six weeks, but the law has changed, and so has the inappropriate and partisan interference of MAGA Republicans in this process.”

In the House, it is unclear whether the investigation will lead to an actual impeachment of Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ordered the investigation on his own authority when Republicans appeared to lack the votes in the full House to initiate the process.

Nonetheless, such an investigation is rare in American history. Only three presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump, who suffered this indignity twice. None of them have been convicted by the Senate, which serves as a jury in such cases.

Likewise, those close to the president have caused problems before, but rarely in this way. “Having a troubled son or daughter is nothing new,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “Billy Carter and Roger Clinton were never really prominent in the White House, whereas Hunter Biden’s story is about trying to connect with Dad.”

Billy Carter, Jimmy Carter’s brother, was investigated by the Senate for alleged influence peddling. Roger Clinton, Clinton’s half-brother, had drug problems and received a controversial pardon from his brother for a drug conviction.

Biden is known to worry deeply about his surviving son, who just a few years ago was in the grip of a serious drug addiction. Hunter Biden remained in the White House for two weeks this summer, and most of the president’s aides are avoiding discussing Hunter’s issues with the president, believing their contributions and ideas would not be welcome, even if they are worried about the personal consequences this imposes on him. .

Hunter Biden remains close to his father amid investigation

Senior aides to the president informed him of his son’s indictment shortly after it was made public and less than an hour before he left the White House Thursday for an economic speech in Maryland, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Biden did not address the indictment Thursday, and officials said the White House did not intend to do so because they wanted to emphasize that the Justice Department’s case against Hunter Biden was independent.

But as a father, the president — whose other son, Beau, died of cancer in 2015 — is particularly sensitive to his Hunter’s legal troubles. When Hunter Biden’s plea deal fell through in July, the president was blindsided and frustrated because he believed his son’s legal troubles were largely behind him, according to people familiar with his reaction.

“His son’s legal status must be extremely painful for him, but he’s going to have to endure,” said former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), who served with Biden in the Senate.

Father and son spoke about Hunter’s struggles with addiction, and the president often remarked how proud he was of his son’s recovery.

Republicans have yet to present evidence that the president benefited from his son’s foreign business dealings, but many of the most conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives have pressured McCarthy to open officially an impeachment inquiry. Some even said they would not support defunding the government unless McCarthy agreed.

“They have no evidence, so they are launching the next phase of their goose chase without evidence just to throw red meat at the right wing so they can continue to baselessly attack the president and make “extreme politics,” said Ian Sams, a White House official. spokesperson, said in a statement.

But as with any investigation, there are risks for the president. Congress will likely have expanded its authority to delve into Biden’s finances and could devote more resources to investigating the president and his family.

“Going through an impeachment hearing is never a badge of honor,” Brinkley said. “This is not something the president coveted or wishes to achieve, but it is part and parcel of our new civil war between Democrats and Republicans.”

He added: “The weaponization of impeachment has now reached its full flowering. It is always out of fear of a double impeachment of Trump that this day would happen. You don’t really need evidence to launch an impeachment inquiry — you just need the political will to do it. This is just another manifestation of toxicity in our politics.


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