President Joe Biden has said very little about his son’s legal problems: That’s probably a good idea: Hunter Biden, the president’s son, was indicted last week on three counts related to his purchase of a gun in 2018, making him the first child of a sitting president to be indicted on federal charges.
At the same time, the younger Biden has become the focus of investigatory events by House Republicans, who are moving to impeach the president by tenuously tying him to his son’s overseas business deals. Earlier this week, Congressional Republicans spent hours grilling Attorney General Merrick Garland about supposed wrongdoing by the Justice Department in Hunter’s case.
Throughout it, the president has said very little about his son’s case. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last week that Biden will not pardon his son or commute his sentence, should he be convicted of a crime.
Joe Biden: What Should He Do About Hunter Biden?
One piece this week, in the usually Biden-friendly publication The Daily Beast, argues that Joe Biden should say more.
Correspondent Michael Daly writes that as Biden makes an announcement this week about gun violence prevention efforts, “maybe it’s time he said something about his son’s recklessness.”
“When President Biden makes the Rose Garden announcement of a new office of gun violence prevention, he will be speaking as someone whose son seems to have illegally possessed not just one, but two handguns,” Daly writes. “He will also be speaking as someone who has never publicly addressed that situation. His silence, of course, makes it harder for him to claim the moral high ground on one of the most important issues we face as the killing goes on and on and on.”
Daly also suggested that Biden specifically address some of the photos that have surfaced of Hunter brandishing guns, including some extracted from his infamous laptop.
This argument is something of a stretch. Hunter Biden is not accused of any crime involving violence. He didn’t shoot anyone or threaten to do so. The charges are related to making false statements on a gun application form. It’s not clear what it would accomplish for the president if he tied the gun violence prevention push to his son’s case- among other things if he did so the comments would get all the attention and the initiative itself would get done.
Joe Biden Should Stay Quiet
The truth is, Joe Biden has largely stayed out of his son’s legal troubles, and it would behoove him to continue to keep out of them.
It would be unwise for the president of the United States to comment on an ongoing legal matter involving his own son, in which it is clearly important for him not to show the appearance of a conflict of interest.
If the president came forward and declared his son innocent and his prosecution a travesty, he would be undermining his own Justice Department and giving a huge amount of political ammunition to his own enemies.
But if Biden bashed Hunter for being so careless, he would, once again, be commenting on an ongoing legal matter and undermining his son’s defense, while also throwing his own son under the bus.
The president’s posture, whenever his son’s name has come up in a negative context since he started running for president in 2019, has been to declare that Hunter has had troubles but that he loves him and supports him. After all, a lot of Americans have been in similar predicaments with their addicted or troublemaking children and there are indications that voters find that relatable, rather than holding it against Biden.
At any rate, it’s unlikely that anything President Biden could say about his son would satisfy his enemies.
And yes, there is some degree of hypocrisy, on behalf of both parties, in that their views on gun policy don’t necessarily line up with their positions when it comes to Hunter Biden. Democrats, including the Biden Administration, tend to favor strictly gun restrictions, while Republicans tend to take the opposite view, with the courts even possibly striking down one of the laws the younger Biden was charged under.
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.