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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the press that, “The president was never in business with his son.” That’s a strangely different answer than Biden has given in the past. FILE: President Joe Biden and his son Hunter exit a plane. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Hunter Biden’s sweetheart deal is off the table
With the collapse of his plea bargain, Hunter Biden is facing something that he has been able to evade for five years: a real prosecution. The plea bargain itself was widely panned as a sweetheart deal that offered Biden a chance to close out the investigation with no jail time and two minor misdemeanors. However, it is hard for a plea bargain to actually write “a wink and a nod” as a part of the formal factual description. The judge made a simple threshold inquiry on its meaning, and it immediately collapsed as the prosecutors and defense counsel struggled to explain.
If the Justice Department followed its past practice, a withdrawal of this kind would ordinarily result in the prosecutors pursuing every possible criminal count — and serious jail time. However, Hunter’s sudden exposure to equal justice could prove equally costly for the person who was not be mentioned in the case: President Joe Biden.
Starting with his campaign for the presidency and continuing until recently, President Joe Biden has maintained one clear and consistent position on his son’s influence peddling schemes. As a virtual mantra, Biden — and the White House staff — have categorically maintained that he had no knowledge of any foreign dealings of his son.
President Joe Biden’s latest claim about his son Hunter is a major shift from what he had been claiming before. FILE: Hunter Biden during a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
That has been proven to be a lie, but Biden continued to maintain the position. Yet, on the eve of the testimony of a key Biden associate, the White House has changed its position. Now the president is only claiming that he was “never in business” with his son.
Some of us have written multiple columns over the last four years arguing that the president was clearly and knowingly lying in his denials of knowledge and discussions of these deals. Even when he made the statement, it was clearly untrue, but most of the media shrugged and happily walked away.
Then the evidence began to mount.
The laptop includes pictures and appointments of Hunter’s foreign business associates with Joe Biden. There is also a recording of Joe Biden discussing a Times report on Dec. 12, 2018, detailing Hunter’s dealings with Ye Jianming, the head of CEFC China Energy Company. He assures his son that “I think you’re clear” after lawyers worked on the New York Times before the story ran.
There is also a recording of his uncle James assuring Hunter that he and his father were going to arrange for “safe harbor” for him as his world began to collapse.
Then there is the July 30, 2017, WhatsApp message from Hunter Biden to one of his Chinese associates, Henry Zhao, the director of Harvest Fund Management and Communist Party official. Zhao was funneling money to Hunter’s firm BHR Partners. Hunter is quoted as writing:
“I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.”
Nevertheless, the White House has maintained the total denial … until this week before the testimony of Devon Archer.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked by Fox News journalist Gillian Turner:
“Chairman James Comer today says that the Oversight Committee has evidence that the president in the past communicated directly with foreign business associates of his son Hunter Biden many times. Curious if the White House and the president still stand behind his comment that he’s never been involved and has never even spoken to his son about his business?”
The response from Jean-Pierre was surprising:
“So, I’ve been I’ve been asked this question a million times. The answer is not going to change. The answer remains the same. The president was never in business with his son. I just don’t have anything else to add.”
It takes an utter contempt for the intelligence of the public to insist that “the answer remains the same” and then give an entirely new answer. However, that is only if most of the public is informed of the contradiction. None of the media in the White House press corps followed up on Turner’s questions when Jean-Pierre immediately moved on.
If that is now the new spin of the president, it is about four years too late. The president assured the public repeatedly and consistently that he never discussed or knew of these dealings even as evidence mounted in contradiction.
He made this false denial part of his presidency in having his staff echo the same denials to the press and the public. As allegations of bribery and influence peddling swirl around the White House, this pattern of dishonesty and denial can become a basis for impeachment inquiries, as it was with then-President Richard Nixon.
It is tempting to say that the president is being too clever by half, but this was never particularly clever. Biden was counting on the media watching his back and hoping that he could hold both houses of Congress.
The problem is that the media blackout was not total and he lost the House. Now these denials and conflicting accounts are threatening the possibility that he could lose much more than his political standing. If the evidence continues to contradict his blanket denials, Biden could lose his office.