Hunter Biden has been found guilty on all three counts. Here’s how the verdict will affect the election

Despite the dramatic fallout and political posturing, there are multiple reasons why we shouldn’t expect this to change how voters cast their ballots in November

Andrew Feinberg
Washington DC
Tuesday 11 June 2024 16:42
A television monitor shows the verdict in the Hunter Biden trial in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 11, 2024
A television monitor shows the verdict in the Hunter Biden trial in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 11, 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

After a years-long investigation by a Department of Justice prosecutor appointed under former president Donald Trump, a Delaware jury has found Hunter Biden guilty on three separate criminal charges related to his purchase of a revolver from a gun shop in Wilmington six years ago.

Prosecutors alleged that Hunter, the youngest and only surviving son of President Joe Biden, lied on an eight-page form he had to fill out to buy the .38 caliber revolver. It is a federal crime to lie on the form, known as an ATF Form 4473, which prosecutors said he did when he checked a box indicating that he wasn’t a user of illegal drugs.

They also separately alleged that he violated a separate criminal law by making a false statement regarding his status as a drug addict during the transaction to the licensed gun dealer, and by possessing the gun while he was addicted to drugs.

Were the charges serious? Yes. Any gun-related criminal charge is generally serious, even in a country with relatively lax laws governing the possession and acquisition of firearms.

The week-long trial, held in a federal courthouse not far from where President Biden’s re-election campaign is based, marked a low point for Hunter. The Yale-educated attorney-turned-businessman has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for decades, by his own admission.

And it’s just the latest chapter in a long-running saga which Republicans hope will end with Hunter’s troubles helping to oust his father from the White House and usher in a restoration of Donald Trump — despite Trump’s status as a convicted felon.

Since 2019, when it became clear that Joe Biden would be a candidate in the 2020 election against Trump, Hunter Biden has been a cudgel which the GOP has sought to wield against his father. It started with the now-infamous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressured Zelensky to announce investigations into both the elder Biden and his son.

He never got what he tried to extort from Zelensky. But that didn’t stop Trump from repeatedly and brazenly lying about Hunter’s overseas business work and accusing Joe Biden of having profited from it, despite there being no evidence that anything of the sort took place.

Hunter’s status as a right-wing hate object became even more solidified in October 2020, after the New York Post obtained and reported on emails from a copy of a hard drive purportedly from a laptop that used to belong to him. The laptop was allegedly abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop run by a Trump supporter who provided copies of the drive to various high-profile pro-Trump figures, including disgraced ex-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

This led to a dramatic reaction and fallout. The then-management at Twitter mistakenly (in their words) — and briefly — limited sharing of the Post story because they believed the email in question had been stolen as part of a hack-and-dump operation akin to what Russian intelligence services had done to prominent Democrats four years earlier. An open letter by more than 50 ex-intelligence experts said such a hack-and-leak operation had “all the hallmarks” of a Russian disinformation operation, although there is no proof that it was. It then became an article of faith among the Trumpian faithful that one of the only reasons that Trump lost the election — to the extent that any of his supporters believed that he’d lost to begin with — was because voters weren’t aware of the president’s errant son’s errant computer.

Since then, targeting Hunter has been de rigeur for any Republican hoping to make his or her bones as a fighter for Trump’s cause.

To that end, there’s been an entire cottage industry constructed around Hunter. One ex-Trump administration aide has spent much of the last four years publishing increasingly bizarre streams of content from a copy of the hard drive he obtained. Republicans in Congress have also spent much of the last two years mining through Hunter’s stolen data in hopes of finding any way to credibly accuse his father of anything that would justify impeaching him to repay Democrats for the two righteous cases they brought against Trump during his tumultuous quadrennium in the White House.

The only real effect the GOP-led probe’s focus on Hunter had was in pressuring a Trump-appointed judge to throw out a plea deal he’d reached to avoid this trial because it would have precluded the government from trying him on charges that he’d violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act — despite little evidence outside the fever swamps that’d ever violated that law.

After the deal fell apart, the Trump-appointed prosecutor who’d been pursuing Hunter got appointed to a special counsel role, letting him bring a second set of charges against him for alleged tax law violations in California.

But the Congressional investigations into President Biden haven’t laid a glove on him leaving Hunter to bear the brunt of the Republican vendetta against him, having stood trial for charges that legal experts say would never have been brought outside of a larger case involving far more serious crimes.

The GOP will attempt to use the outcome of this trial to tar Joe with Hunter’s misdeeds, just as Donald Trump tried to during their second debate four years ago.

It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.

Hunter Biden may have done wrong. But he’s not on a ballot this fall. And Americans know that.

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