"May you live in interesting times," goes the old Chinese "curse." Well, in what is surely a reflection of the current state of American politics, the United States now has three active special counsels for the first time in its history (that is true even if including other, essentially identical, titles like "special prosecutor").
The first special counsel, by date of appointment, is Trump-truth-bringer Jack Smith. The second special counsel is Robert Hur, who is looking into classified documents found in Joe Biden's office and residence. Hur has been pretty quiet since his appointment, so who knows what he's up to, or how much longer he'll be on the job. The third special counsel, as of yesterday, is David Weiss.
Weiss was already the U.S. Attorney for Delaware, and in that capacity, was responsible for the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden. In theory, the Biden investigation was nearing its end, right up until the plea bargain negotiated between Team Weiss and Team Biden fell apart under scrutiny from Judge Maryellen Noreika. Subsequent negotiations over a new plea deal fell apart, and so Weiss requested, and received, appointment as special counsel from Attorney General Merrick Garland. Weiss was already acting as a de facto special counsel; this just made it official.
At the moment, it is expected that the Biden case is going to go to trial. This is, of course, very unhappy news for Joe Biden. On a personal level, he obviously does not want to see his child go through a criminal trial, especially since it is well within the realm of possibility that "Hunter Smith" would not receive the same treatment. On a political level, Republicans are going to wield this as a cudgel, as part of their ongoing campaign to paint the Biden administration and family as hopelessly corrupt.
Indeed, on that point, the usual GOP suspects were all over Twitter Friday afternoon, complaining about the news. This tweet, sent by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) is representative:
Don't be fooled. Garland appointing Weiss as a sham special counsel on Hunter is a way to block info from Congress while claiming they're investigating.
Weiss approved the sweetheart plea deal. This is an even better deal for Hunter since charges may never come.
Readers can reach their own conclusions, but for our part, we'll point out two things. First, Weiss was appointed as U.S. Attorney by Donald Trump. So, Trump picked badly, or Weiss has become hopelessly corrupt in the span of about 3 years, or the claims of bias are nonsense. Second, you might ask yourself: What, exactly, do Republicans want? When it was "plea deal," they were screaming bloody murder. Now that it's "continue the investigation, and conduct a criminal trial," they are screaming bloody murder. It's almost like they are acting in bad faith, and are going to complain about any course of action, regardless of what it is.
Needless to say, the Republicans' overall goal, beyond their usual goal of tearing down a president from the other party (which, to be clear, is a long-honored tradition on both sides of the aisle), is to draw an equivalence between the Bidens and Donald Trump, and thus to lessen the negative impact of Trump's ongoing legal woes. This will be a very tall hill to climb, since Hunter Biden is not running for president and Donald Trump is. Further, Biden's (alleged) crimes are rather less serious than Trump's (alleged) crimes. There is no world in which paying your taxes late and owning a gun you're not supposed to have is worse than grossly mishandling intelligence and/or trying to overturn an election result. Undoubtedly, the Republican base will buy into the notion that Hunter Biden is a modern-day Al Capone, with Joe as his caporegime, while Donald Trump is a modern-day Martin Luther King Jr. But those people are already voting GOP; the challenge is persuading some additional number of voters that the Bidens are more dangerous and corrupt than the Trumps.
Meanwhile, if Hunter Biden goes on trial, is convicted, and is handed a prison sentence, then Joe Biden is going to have a tough call to make. If it's 6 months in a minimum security facility, that's one thing. But if it's say, 3-5 years, particularly in a tougher prison, then the President is going to be extremely tempted to use the pardon power, politics be damned. It is likely that Hunter himself, following his brother's example, will say "Please wait until at least January 21, 2025." But will Joe listen? We may soon find out. (Z)