After five years spent investigating President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, Republicans were only able to come up with two tax fraud charges and a gun charge. They deployed FBI agents, IRS officials, and federal prosecutors and all they got was this lousy tax fraud business.
But what about Hunter Biden? What did he get? Was the deal fair in the sense that it is what others would get? Prosecution expert Andrew Weissmann said if anything, it is a little harsher than expected.
Andrew A. Weissmann was an Assistant United States Attorney from 1991 to 2002, Chief of the Fraud Section in the Department of Justice from 2015 to 2017, and General Counsel for the FBI from 2011-2013. He has more credentials, but you get the idea. He knows prosecuting norms in the DOJ and the FBI.
In his informed opinion, not only did Hunter Biden not get a ‘sweetheart deal’ like many Republicans are claiming, but his deal “seemed a little bit harsher than what I would typically expect.”
Speaking on The Bulwark podcast with Charlie Sykes, Weissmann explained the Hunter Biden deal. Weissmann began by saying it’s incontrovertible that the deal for Hunter’s two misdemeanors and terms to avoid gun charge was made by a Trump appointee held over by Merrick Garland, who was given complete autonomy.
“Both of these types of crimes are generally not prosecuted at all or treated in incredibly lenient fashion. Should that be the case? That’s a legitimate debatable question about how these cases should be treated.
But in terms of are likes being treated alike, there’s nothing that I have heard about this deal that made me think that it was in any way shape or form a sweetheart deal, and the fact that it came from a Trump appointee only suggests that that would be true. And it’s one that if anything, seemed a little bit harsher than what I would typically expect.”
“For those people grounded in reality, this is nothing. It is really only something that is political fodder.”
Weissmann got into the hypocrisy even more as he pointed out that Republicans criticizing the Hunter Biden deal wanted to defund and defang the IRS.
Additionally, the lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office (2017-19) pointed out that “It’s impossible to get Republican support for enforcement of gun laws.” After Sandy Hook, he said he was at the FBI as general counsel coming up with measures including additional enforcement for gun laws, with respect to false filings, e.g., when someone was a felon applying for a gun because those cases were not and are not routinely prosecuted.
His point was that Republicans didn’t want those felons applying for a gun to be prosecuted, but they do want Hunter Biden to be prosecuted.
Weissmann summed it up by saying (paraphrase) Republicans are saying you should have done it more (tax and gun charges) when in general they are against either of these things when it’s anyone else other than Hunter Biden.
To put all of this in perspective, Hunter Biden was charged with two misdemeanor tax offenses and a felony firearm offense. He agreed “to enter a plea of guilty to the tax offenses and enter into a pre-trial diversion agreement with regard to the firearm charge.”
What is all of this over? It’s two years of taxes that Hunter Biden did not pay in 2017 and 2018. “Despite owing in excess of $100,000 in federal income taxes each year, he did not pay the income tax due for either year.”
This is a good time to remind readers that around that time period, the IRS was being weaponized against critics of then-president Trump. That is not to suggest that Hunter Biden isn’t guilty; but rather that while others were allowed to get away with deliberate tax fraud, like Roger Stone, the full weight of the department was pushed upon many people Trump didn’t like.
To see how the IRS treated Trump buddies, we can look at convicted and then pardoned by Trump for seven separate felony crimes, Roger Stone, who was Trump’s 2016 campaign advisor. For years, Roger Stone and his wife had not paid their taxes from 2011. The DOJ alleged that while they lived a “lavish lifestyle” they had not been paying their taxes.
Yes, you read that correctly. Stone did not pay his taxes from 2011 until the Justice Department attorneys brought a lawsuit against him and his wife in April of 2021. Why had the IRS, so busy under Trump, let that slide? Where are Republicans calling for the prison guards?
Although Stone fought this as a political hit job for years, he finally agreed to pay more than $2.1 million to settle the case.
Charlie Sykes pointed out that Roger Stone was never criminally charged for his massive tax fraud, and actually there are tax charges against Trump, Inc. and Donald Trump.
A jury in Manhattan found Trump’s company guilty of a long-running criminal tax fraud scheme including 17 counts of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records, a scheme that continued even during his presidency. The Assistant DA in that case said Trump sanctioned the tax fraud.
Even though this comparison is being made, it should be pointed out that an ongoing scheme to defraud the government on purpose including falsifying business records isn’t the same animal as an individual not paying their taxes for two years. Especially, perhaps, an individual whose struggles are well known.
Hunter Biden has struggled with drug addiction for years. His family has been there to support him over and over again as he tried rehab and relapsed. His addiction story is familiar to families across the country. Addicts often don’t take care of daily business like paying bills and taxes. NPR pointed out a heartbreaking detail,”Hunter Biden is careful never to blame his own struggles with addiction on Beau, but the timeline of his wagon tumbles and Beau’s death at age 46 line-up neatly.” Struggling with an addiction doesn’t make Hunter innocent, but it is not the same situation as deliberately defrauding the government with a well thought out scheme. It’s just hard to imagine how the press would be treating this situation if it were one of Trump’s “kids.” It is rather unfair and clearly partisan.
The ideal situation would be if everyone were held to the same standard. But it does appear that Weissmann’s assessment is if anything understated.
Hunter Biden didn’t pay his taxes for two years and he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges, but Roger Stone didn’t pay for many more years than Hunter and yet he was never criminally charged.
It does seem a little bit as if Hunter Biden was served up as the sacrifice to appease Republicans who don’t want Donald Trump to be charged. The DOJ shouldn’t be trying to appease Republicans, mostly because it won’t work but also because it isn’t justice. If the DOJ is really trying to restore faith in itself, then it should be even-handed and treat like alike, which means having the courage to stand by the asymmetric facts even though they make everyone uncomfortable.
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Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.