The indictment alleges the younger Biden cheated on his taxes and failed to pay what was owed while living a lavish lifestyle. In deep detail, it lays out expenses on escorts, pornography, drugs, luxury hotels, and even a Lamborghini.
“Rather than pay his taxes, the defendant spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle,” it reads.
While the sordid details of Hunter Biden’s personal life carry some level of intrigue, the larger question will be what effect, if any, the indictment has on his father’s reelection bid. Republicans say it speaks to the president’s own corruption.
“The House Oversight Committee’s investigation of the Bidens’ influence peddling schemes reveals how Joe Biden knew about, participated in, and benefitted from his family cashing in on the Biden name,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) said. “In fact, Hunter Biden’s corporate entities implicated by today’s indictments funneled foreign cash that landed in Joe Biden’s bank account.”
When asked for a comment, the White House referred the Washington Examiner to the Department of Justice, which in turn pointed back to special counsel David Weiss’s original statement.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated that Joe Biden has pledged not to pardon his son, and otherwise referred to previous statements about how the president supports Hunter “as he continues to rebuild his life.”
But outside of those official channels, the chatter is on how heavily voters will weigh the charges next year.
One eye-catching detail is that Ukrainian energy company Burisma halved the $1 million salary it was paying Hunter Biden in March 2017, soon after Joe Biden left the vice presidency.
The specifics of the charges also cut against some of the president’s favorite talking points. Hunter stands accused of evading taxes while his father insists the rich should pay their fair share, while the September gun charges come amid a White House push for stricter firearms control.
There is, however, a long history of troubled presidential offspring, and many insist that Hunter’s actions have no bearing on his father.
“The truth is, if Hunter’s last name wasn’t Biden, he likely wouldn’t be facing any charges at all,” Democratic strategist Chris Jackson posted on X.
A related matter is that Biden’s top GOP opponent, former president Donald Trump, is facing 91 felony charges of his own.
“The Hunter Biden charges mainly reinforce anti-Biden sentiment among those already opposed to the president,” said David Greenberg, Rutgers University history, journalism, and media studies professor. “Even these charges, significant as they are, seem unlikely to move undecided voters, not least because there is so much scandal surrounding Trump.”
House Republicans are ready to test that theory. They have filed an impeachment inquiry resolution which is expected to get a vote next week to authorize their investigation into the president.
The inquiry is looking into whether Joe Biden improperly used his positions of power to enrich himself and his family, whether he used his influence to pressure the Justice Department to help Hunter, and how involved he was in his family’s foreign business dealings.
Specifically, it focuses on an allegation raised in an FBI tip sheet that says both Bidens took bribes from Burisma to pressure the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor.
But the GOP may have lost some of the firepower behind its cries of a two-tiered system of justice. Republicans frequently juxtapose the widespread and varied charges against Trump with what they describe as a kid-gloves approach to the Bidens. Voters could decide the two Hunter indictments undermine that contrast.
The wider problem for Joe Biden may be enthusiasm, according to presidential historian and Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.
With the president already facing questions about his level of commitment to the 2024 election and polls showing voters want a different Democrat, Shirley argues the indictments could be one more reason for the Left to stay home.
“It’s not going to increase Republican morale, but it’s going to depress Democratic turnout,” he said. “They’ve already got a lot of bad reasons why they shouldn’t vote — the economy, Bidenflation, Israel, antisemitism. They’re depressed. This is just one more reason piled on for Democrats not to vote.”
Shirley added that while the indictment looks tough on the surface, the actual outcome could still be a light sentence amounting to a slap on the wrist. It remains to be seen, he said, just how serious the special counsel is about prosecuting Hunter Biden.