What about Hunter Biden? Well, what about him?
If the president’s son is found to have cheated on his taxes, the most serious accusation so far, then punish him. This is an interesting story but not a very important story until it’s determined that his father, President Joe Biden, helped him or profited from any illegal scheme. So far, there is zero evidence that he has.
Hunter appears to have been a screwed-up kid trying to get rich by playing big shot, thanks to his last name.
There’s no question that Joe Biden was remiss in not stopping Hunter from citing his politically powerful parent in efforts to advance business interests. Did professional experience qualify Hunter to sit on the board of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company? No, not at all. It’s obvious that only the Biden name got him this and other deals that, when added up, well exceeded $1 million.
Hunter’s drug addiction and other trauma can be an explanation for his alleged failure to pay taxes and breaching gun laws, if that was the case, but it isn’t an excuse. And the tragic death of Joe’s golden son, Beau, was not a good excuse for Joe to take his eye off his other son’s questionable ventures — certainly not when he was holding high office.
But it’s not like Hunter got to serve in the Oval Office as his father’s senior adviser or walk off with $2 billion in investment money from the Saudis. We’re so used to the Trump empire of grift and shamelessness that even questionable billions get lost in a dumpster of sleazy activities. As it happened, the Trumps made money from the same Chinese company that Republicans now accuse Hunter of helping out. Hunter is small change next to son-in-law Jared Kushner.
But this is not so much an exercise in what-aboutism as it is in snout-ism at the governmental trough. Children should not be trading on their parents’ connections in a society that values or at least pretends to value egalitarianism. Not Republicans. Not Democrats.
As of now, here is what matters: Number one, there is no evidence that the elder Biden made money off Hunter’s dealings. Number two and more importantly, Biden never altered foreign policy to help Hunter’s clients.
Hunter’s former partner, Devon Archer, testified that Joe was not party to any of Hunter’s financial doings. Joe engaged only in brief, how’s-the-weather conversations with his son’s business associates.
If I seem harsher on the Hunter story than the Jared one, it’s because I expected more of Joe Biden than of Donald Trump. Joe appears to be innocent of involvement in any crime. Donald has been charged in four criminal cases, one involving an attempted coup against the American government.
I have no interest in either defending or condemning Hunter from a legal standpoint. He is now facing a special counsel investigation after a plea agreement on tax and gun charges fell apart. Let the wheels of justice roll. Let the legal authorities take it from here. If Hunter has been turning his life around, that’s nice but not relevant.
Again, Hunter’s trading off the Biden name — giving the impression that he could pull strings for foreign business interests — is unsavory. That Trump’s family did much worse does not sweeten the bad smell.
Sure, some politicians have troubled and needy children, but so do their constituents. What all these kids need is direction and perhaps psychiatry. Meanwhile, political parents must warn offspring against implying that they can toddle up to Dad and get special goodies for themselves or others.
This applies to all of them.
Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. She can be emailed at email@example.com.
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