Let's not get too excited about Hunter's gun charges yet

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

On Thursday, I wrote about how Hunter Biden was finally looking at gun charges for owning a firearm while using an illicit drug. This is, ultimately, good news if you value things like equal protection before the law and all that jazz.

The truth is that Hunter getting a pass on gun charges that anyone else would end up in prison over was an absolute outrage. It’s one of those things that never should have happened, but it almost did.

Public outcry was fierce and now things are changing.

But are they?

Writing over at our sister site Townhall, Guy Benson thinks we should be a little skeptical about it.

It seems likely that the feds had indeed privately agreed to shockingly the generous terms Hunters lawyers were expecting, but were too embarrassed to confirm them publicly and in front of the presiding judge.  The agreement collapsed.  Following that explosive courtroom development, Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss (who had been the US Attorney at least nominally pursuing the case) to Special Counsel status, a move I viewed as dubious and cynical for various reasons.  At the time, I wrote this:

Weiss should be regarded as a political actor whose overarching agenda in this entire matter seems to be accountability avoidance for anyone named Biden.  Second, directly relatedly, it shows why elevating Weiss to special counsel status is such a farce.  Based on what we’ve seen thus far, I’ve developed a theory on what is likely to come next…Having gotten ‘caught’ and embarrassed for a second time, Weiss will exercise his new authority to go a little bit harder at Hunter Biden (while still taking care to insulate ‘the Big Guy), without fully throwing the book at him.  Just as we saw after the IRS whistleblowers stepped forward, Weiss now needs to save some face, but his inclination to protect the Bidens to the greatest extent possible will likely remain intact.   This is not generally the disposition of a prosecutor, but Weiss has repeatedlyhampered and stymiedhis own investigation — closing off key lines of inquiry, barring pursuit of certain witnesses and questions, disregarding serious evidence, allowing statues of limitation to expire on serious offenses, and of course green-lighting an outrageous plea deal.  He is unfit to be the special counsel in this case.

Was that a very jaded read on the situation? Yes. Was that cynicism warranted, given everything we’ve seen in this case thus far? Also yes, in my view.  I will not rush to judgment here, but observers should approach the new indictment declaration very warily.  The gun violation is said to be an open-and-shut case, among other low-hanging fruit.  Some critics argue the “diversion” program Hunter Biden was initially offered in order to avoid prosecution was not applicable because Biden’s actions rendered him ineligible for such a program.  Once the deal was ostentatiously torn up — thanks entirely to public scrutiny, as opposed to any accountability-minded fortitude by prosecutors — it’s not exactly a surprise that now-Special Counsel Weiss feels obligated to do something to restore some semblance of perceived rigor to the investigation he’s been undermining for months.  This announcement of intent to pursue a new indictment would very much fit that pattern.

Now, Benson is seemingly arguing that the gun charges may end up being used as a way to hit Hunter with something, let him see some punishment, and shield the elder Biden from any detailed look at allegations that he was involved in his son’s criminal behavior.

And I can’t rule that out. After all, prosecutors essentially threw out the gun charges which sparked a lot of the outrage. Throwing Hunter on the sacrificial fire there would likely quell some of that outrage and yes, would shield the president from some examination.

After all, no one thinks Hunter did drugs and owned a gun at the direction of his father. That’s all on him and him alone.

But there are a lot of other allegations against him and many of those do seem to allege some degree of wrongdoing by the president. Those are actually more serious accusations, too. Influence peddling only works if the influence is present. Hunter allegedly selling access to the then-vice president is troubling, as is the evidence telling us that it worked.

Yet the gun charges are still legitimate charges and Hunter should be punished for breaking the law. At least, he should if anyone else is going to be punished for the same charges. If Congress and the president want to make those disappear for everyone, I’m fine with it, but since that’s not likely to happen, everyone needs to play by the same rules.

Even Hunter.

So this is still good news, but we need to keep a skeptical eye on what transpires. Hunter needs to get the full punishment, not some sweetheart deal and we need to keep investigating the influence-peddling allegations as well.

We don’t need to sacrifice one for the other in either direction.