Monday, June 17, 2024

Republicans push conspiracy theories after Hunter Biden verdict: ‘A fake trial’

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Republicans responded to Hunter Biden’s conviction on Tuesday of lying about his drug use to buy a gun by doubling down on conspiracy theories that many senior party figures have been using to try and damage his president father.

Despite the fact that Joe Biden’s son could now face a hefty jail sentence, Donald Trump’s election campaign and its surrogates repeated unfounded attack lines that the conviction was part of a conspiracy to deflect attention from more serious crimes and represented the use of the Department of Justice (DoJ) as a political weapon.

Republicans have long sought to use Hunter Biden’s woes and business dealings as a political weapon against Biden, ignoring the fact that Trump himself is also now a convicted felon whose own business empire has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for fraudulent practises.

That tactic continued in the wake of Hunter’s guilty verdict.

“This trial has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.

Matt Gaetz, the far-right congressman from Florida, was distinctly dismissive, posting on X: “The Hunter Biden gun conviction is kinda dumb tbh.”

That was echoed by Charlie Kirk, a conservative activist and founder of Turning Point USA, who derided the conviction as a distraction from worse crimes he claimed have been committed by the president’s family.

“Hunter Biden guilty. Yawn,” Kirk wrote. “The true crimes of the Biden Crime Family remain untouched. This is a fake trial trying to make the Justice system appear ‘balanced.’ Don’t fall for it.”

Nancy Mace, a Republican congresswoman for South Carolina, implied that the verdict was a sham. “Timing is everything. The veil of fairness in the justice system under @Potus,” she wrote.

Stephen Miller, one of Donald Trump’s closest advisers during his first presidency, went further still, posting: “DOJ is running election interference for Joe Biden – that’s why DOJ did NOT charge Hunter with being an unregistered foreign agent (FARA) or any crime connected with foreign corruption. Why? Because all the evidence would lead back to JOE.”

The negative drumbeat underscored how the prosecution – and now conviction – of Hunter Biden has undermined a Republican narrative that the justice department has been “weaponised” by Biden’s administration to pursue a vendetta against Trump, who was last month convicted of 34 counts of document falsification to conceal hush money payments to an adult actor.

Trump’s case was led by a New York state prosecutor, who does not work under the department’s jurisdiction, while Hunter Biden was prosecuted by the DoJ, which is part of his father’s administration.

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James Comer, chairman of the House of Representatives’ oversight committee, was more measured in calling the verdict “a step toward accountability”.

But he, too, implied that it was the tip of the iceberg, saying justice would not be done “until the Department of Justice investigates everyone involved in the Bidens’ corrupt influence peddling schemes”.

Further reducing the volume of the Republican reaction is the fact that the conviction was secured on charges of illegal gun ownership – an issue on which Republicans favor far more relaxed laws than Democrats.

Hunter Biden faces separate charges in California of tax evasion to the tune of $1.4m. But Republicans have also alleged – but so far failed to provide evidence – that his former connection to the Ukrainian state oil company Burisma profited his father. The allegations have fuelled a thus-far fruitless impeachment inquiry.

Joe Biden himself greeted his son’s new status as a convicted felon gravely, saying he would accept the outcome and the judicial process while his son considers an appeal.

“So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery,” Biden said.

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