Really, Hunter Biden Again?
Terry H. Schwadron
Dec. 11, 2020
Hunter Biden is back again as a target?
The headline was that the U.S. Attorney’s office is investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes, says Hunter Biden, who said he was notified by prosecutors. What did not need to be highlighted is the timing of the notification — days before President-elect Joe Biden, aka Hunter’s dad, is to be inaugurated.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation — which seems to have been under way in one form or another since 2018 — the timing of the case by a Republican administration is assured to undermine public support for a new Democratic president.
Or do I sound too cynical here?
When last we left the Hunter soap opera, the presidential son was being described as the corrupt center of conspiracy to take advantage of his father’s name for personal gain — apparently unlike the male and female heirs to the Donald Trump financial empire. People like Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, appear obsessed with finding public, legal wrongdoing in Hunter using his Biden name to draw attention and a no-show job as a director for a Ukrainian energy company and access for a fizzled investor group entree to Chinese officials — dealings that apparently drew more eyes after a laptop of Hunter’s was retrieved from a repair shop.
It got left there because there was no apparent public wrong for Hunter, just unthinking stupidity, and no evidence that father Biden had influenced or profited from his son’s wayward business dealings.
So, news that federal prosecutors are now looking at Biden’s taxes seems rather more expected than surprising.
The bigger issue here is why — other than obvious partisan politics — should we care?
Like the Ukrainian stories, finding the obvious legal issue putting Hunter Biden at risk is a little foggy. None of the principals was talking.
Here’s how The New York Times laid out what is known since the FBI apparently started to look into possible money laundering in 2018, according to unnamed sources. Exactly what prompted the inquiry is not clear but any suggestion of money laundering disappeared while the IRS continued to look at Hunter Biden, who immediately went public on Wednesday with the federal notification to his own lawyer.
It seems that Hunter and his estranged first wife, Kathleen, owed $314,000 in taxes with other financial problems detailed in their divorce filings. There was an IRS lien against unpaid taxes from 2015, which was then paid off. And there were city taxes in Washington totaling $454,000 for 2017 and 2018, also paid off, according to tax records.
It sounds like Hunter didn’t pay taxes on time, then did when the IRS took action.
So, we’re missing any obvious criminal plot here, aren’t we?
What we do know is that despite attempts by officials in the United States, the Ukraine and news reporters to look into how Hunter Biden came to be named to a $50,000-a-month job that he didn’t need to do much for on behalf of Ukrainian energy company Burisma in 2015, there has never been a legal case arising. Nevertheless, Hunter continues to be a driver for political attacks — as if there were a legal problem. As The Times notes, Hunter “has long been an intense target of Trump and his allies over the range of business ventures he pursued around the world during his father’s time as vice president and beyond.”
For sure, the timing stinks for Joe Biden at the start of his presidency. Clearly, Biden Senior cannot be involved in any potential prosecution against his son, not in any move that might be perceived as dropping it.
But even in the natural course of these tedious events, it is inevitable that Biden will be tagged with influencing the outcome.
Meanwhile, Senator Johnson popped off that had his inquiries into Hunter drawn yet more attention, Trump would have succeeded at the polls against Biden. This is a leap of logic that skips over so many gaps as to take one’s breath away. And right on cue, here was Sen. Tom Cotton, R-AR, who is eyeing on a potential White House run in 2024, saying that a special counsel should be appointed to investigate Hunter for allegations of securities fraud, money laundering and “a crooked hospital deal with Jim Biden, Joe Biden’s brother” in Western Pennsylvania.
Who needs facts? And why is Hunter a suitable substitute for the president-elect anyway?
I sure hope that federal prosecutors have more than late tax payments to pursue here if we’re in the besmirching-of-Hunter business. Otherwise, we have a host of questions about a whole lot of other people who have not paid their taxes on time — including the person currently sitting in the White House and family.
More broadly, one wonders why this is a criminal investigation at all, what the punishment is that fits this set of information and why the rest of us need to be involved.
It’s almost as if there was an investigation looking to be launched just to undercut a new administration. Hmm.