• Show Notes

Dear Reader,

A jury unanimously found Hunter Biden guilty of falsely claiming that he was not a drug user when he purchased a gun. It is unlikely this prosecution would have been pursued against Hunter Biden if he were not the president’s son. As former federal prosecutor Harry Litman recently wrote, federal prosecutions for lying on gun purchasing forms are typically brought only if the gun is used in a crime or the purchaser is a known gang member. Hunter Biden never used his gun and only possessed it for 11 days. 

The special counsel who brought the case, David Weiss, was appointed by Donald Trump to be the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed him as special counsel to continue working on the Hunter Biden case. Weiss initially proposed a deal that would allow Hunter Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax offenses and avoid any punishment on the gun charge as long as he stayed out of trouble and remained drug-free for two years. After a Trump-appointed judge rejected the deal and Republicans in Congress clamored for more serious charges, the special counsel brought the charges that led to last week’s jury verdict. Hunter Biden now faces a sentence of 15 to 21 months under the federal sentencing guidelines, but the judge has discretion to give a lesser sentence. 

Because these are federal charges, President Biden has the authority to give his son clemency in the form of a full pardon or a commutation, which would reduce whatever sentence Hunter Biden receives. President Biden has made clear, however, that he will not use his clemency powers to issue either a pardon or a commutation. “I'm not gonna do anything,” he declared when asked about whether he’d use his clemency authority.