In the last few weeks, the New York Times and Washington Post declared the Hunter Biden laptop is officially a real story. In the last few weeks alone, we learned that a grand jury witness got a question about “the big guy;” and a new email emerged showing the now-White House chief of staff wanted some fundraising help from Hunter Biden’s business associates.
The deluge of news stories suggests federal prosecutors, maybe grand jurors, or at least someone privy to the proceedings in Delaware were apparently leaking tidbits to the media and that Hunter Biden – the son of President Joe Biden – is more than primetime cable fodder, a punchline, or the sympathetic prodigal son that he casts himself as in his memoir “Beautiful Things.”
The matter could grow beyond Hunter. As I wrote in “Abuse of Power,” the president’s brother James Biden partnered with Hunter in 2006, asserting, “We’ve got people all around the world who want to invest in Joe Biden.” In this instance, he was referring to Joe Biden ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The same sense of adventurism—mostly from Hunter—accelerated after Biden became vice president.
At best, Joe Biden’s family members—Hunter Biden being the most recognizable—were profiteering off the current president’s name and government positions. That’s unfortunately all too common among political families and one of the reasons folks describe Washington as the Swamp. But at worse (far from conclusive at this point) Joe Biden may have profited from his role as “the big guy” in one deal, and potentially others.
One of the younger Biden’s business partners—James Gilliar—proposed a percentage distribution for a planned deal with a Chinese energy company in March 2017—when the older Biden was a private citizen. The message said “10 held by H for the big guy?” Another Hunter business partner, Tony Bobulinski, said in 2020 that the “big guy” was Hunter’s father. This week, the New York Post reported a witness testifying to the federal grand jury was asked to identify the “big guy.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham recently said there should be a special counsel appointed to the case. Though the information emerging from the case implies that U.S. Attorney David Weiss doesn’t plan on burying the matter. If the matter heats up, the left will no doubt taunt him as a Trump appointee, but he is a career prosecutor endorsed by the state’s two Democrat senators. So, that won’t likely stick. Though, if the matter implicates the president in some way, it might trigger the requirement for a special counsel.
In this case the classic question, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” has been asked and answered several times. President Biden has denied even talking to his son about his business deals. White House chief of staff Ron Klain told ABC News on Sunday [April 3] that the president was confident his son didn’t violate the law and was leaving it to the Justice Department to conduct an independent inquiry.
However, Fox News reported last week on emails that show in 2012 that Klain—after recently leaving his post as the vice president’s chief of staff and began serving as chairman of the Vice President’s Residence Foundation—wanted the younger Biden’s help to raise $20,000 for sprucing up the vice presidential residence. “We need to keep this low low key, because raising money for the Residence now is bad PR … I’m trying to just collect the 10 checks of $2,000, get it done in a week.”
In isolation, Klain’s email message would be a nothing burger—and perhaps is still a nothing burger after context. But the context is that Klain, one of Biden’s closest associates for decades was almost certainly aware that Hunter Biden for years had some unsavory business alliances—some he had to publicly bail on when his father was put on the vice presidential ticket with Barack Obama in 2008. So it is worthwhile information that may or may not fit a larger puzzle.
The Washington Post even published a mea culpa editorial—with a couple of self-serving caveats—about how the laptop story should have gotten more attention in 2020 and the need for a media “reckoning.” That’s true in more ways than the editorial acknowledges. A poll in late November by the conservative Media Research Center of 1,750 Biden voters in the battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin found that 45.1% were unaware of the Hunter Biden scandal censored by social media and largely ignored by the mainstream media. Out of those unaware, 9.4% said they would have abandoned Biden. That could have been enough to flip the election.
At the risk of digressing, at least 62% of Americans believe the Russian war crimes in Ukraine wouldn’t be happening now if the election had turned out differently, according to a Harvard poll. So, unreported or misreported news can have consequences.
It’s only April, enough time for everything to be legally resolved and the entire Biden family to be vindicated beyond question. But if questions remain unanswered or the investigation seems stalled and Republicans takeover even just the House in November, Rep. Jim Jordan will be the presumptive chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
If Jordan hesitates to call for an impeachment inquiry, Rep. Matt Gaetz and other GOP committee members are less likely to show the same restraint. In this scenario, presumptive Speaker Kevin McCarthy might prefer the legislative agenda not to get distracted by the I-word that would go no further in the Senate than the last three presidential impeachments going back to 1998. But McCarthy would have his own leadership post to defend. That would probably necessitate a special counsel as a compromise.
Recall that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was able to hold the impeachment hungry members of her caucus at bay by saying: Wait for the Robert Mueller report.
Only after the Mueller report failed to deliver what Democrats wanted, did Pelosi cave to the impeachment wing over the next shiny object to rationalize a Trump impeachment.
Even under the worst-case scenario—that President Big Guy (again, presuming they are the same) somehow benefitted from Hunter deals before he was president, what does that mean for his current presidency? Is it an offense against his current office? This might nevertheless lead to uncomfortable places. The only way to avoid speculation is to know the truth. For now, that’s up to U.S. Attorney Weiss.
Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and the author of “Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump.”