Why Hunter Biden’s gun conviction could benefit the Democrats

Hunter Biden is supported by his stepmother Jill Biden, the First Lady, and his wife Melissa Cohen Biden as he leaves court after the verdict on Tuesday
Hunter Biden is supported by his stepmother Jill Biden, the First Lady, and his wife Melissa Cohen Biden as he leaves court after the verdict on Tuesday - Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
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Hunter Biden’s conviction on federal gun charges is not surprising. The evidence against the president’s son was overwhelming.

It included his own memoir, embarrassing texts with his relatives, and a string of unflattering photos all illustrating the depths of his drug addiction.

But even some Republican critics of Joe Biden have argued the trial was an unnecessary exercise in public humiliation for the US president’s family.

There can be no doubt that this is a severe blow to the Bidens, still reeling from Hunter’s addiction, and the death of his older brother, Beau.

Yet for all it has wounded the president on a personal level, Democrats do see political upsides to the situation.

For one, it is a sharp rejoinder to Donald Trump’s claims that his own criminal conviction stemmed from a “rigged” justice system.

Hunter Biden is the first child of a sitting US president to be prosecuted by the government, and it is exceedingly rare for the charges against him to be prosecuted as a stand-alone crime.

Moreover, Mr Biden has ruled out pardoning his son. “[I] will continue to respect the judicial process,” he said, drawing an implicit contrast with his Republican rival.

Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden will not receive a presidential pardon for his crimes, Joe Biden has said - Matt Slocum/AP Photo

Before the verdict, Trump’s allies had laid out everything Biden Jr had going in his favour.

He was being tried in a city where virtually every resident is acquainted with the Bidens in one way or another.

“Wilmington is a small place,” one prospective juror said when asked if she knew the defendant.

Critics also argued that a panel of jurors which had disclosed personal experience with addiction was likely to have a sympathetic ear.

And yet the 12 men and women from Biden Jr’s hometown unanimously agreed to convict him on all three counts.

Trump acolytes teased a preview of the Republican response, arguing the true extent of the Biden family’s “crimes” has gone uninterrogated.

“This is a fake trial trying to make the justice system appear ‘balanced’,” said GOP activist Charlie Kirk. “Don’t fall for it.”

Donald Trump Jr framed the prosecution a “red herring” designed to distract from more serious tax charges, and allegations of shadowy foreign business dealings.

Biden Jr does still face a second trial on tax charges in California later this year.

Release of tell-all memoir questioned

But the Trump campaign cannot escape the fact that the former president’s own legal problems are far more serious. And unlike Hunter Biden, he is on the ballot in November.

Questions abound over Joe Biden’s wisdom in sanctioning his son’s release of a tell-all memoir which detailed encounters in seedy hotels, prowling homeless camps for drugs, and a string of criminal acts which bolstered his prosecution.

The answer may be that there was no hiding from the past, and the president’s team may have felt it was better for his scandal-plagued son to put his own varnish on the tale.

For all the personal embarrassment, Democratic strategists believe there is a silver lining to the disclosures from the case.

Kate Bedingfield, Mr Biden’s former communications director, argued the verdict may have given voters in a country ravaged by drug addiction a personal “link” to the president that could prove powerful.

It is a message the president, and his son leaned into in their reactions. The president noted “so many families understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side”.

Biden Jr, in his own statement, said: “Recovery is possible by the grace of God, and I am blessed to experience that gift one day at a time.”

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