Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Hunter Biden's Fate Now in Jury's Hands

After taking the weekend to think about it, the Hunter Biden defense team made the same decision as the Trump defense team: We're not going to have our client testify. The official reason, in both cases, is "the prosecution did not make their case, so testimony from the defendant is not necessary." The real reason, in both cases, is "letting our client take the stand would open several cans of worms we prefer not to open."

Unlike Trump, Biden did not put up other witnesses to testify on his behalf. And so, when the trial resumed yesterday, closing statements were the order of the day. The prosecution said exactly what you think they said, namely that nobody is above the law (even sons of presidents) and that the evidence of guilt, while often uncomfortable, was overwhelming. The defense also said exactly what you think they said, namely that there are inconsistencies in the testimony of the various witnesses, and that while the prosecution may have proven that Biden abused/was addicted to drugs, it did not prove that he was an abuser/addict during the 11 days in which he purchased and owned the gun before disposing of it.

Thereafter, the jury received instructions, and then undertook deliberations for about an hour. Obviously, they did not reach a verdict, as this item would have a very different headline if they had. Biden faces three counts, which are very much connected to each other: that he lied on his gun purchase form, that he lied to the gun seller, and that he possessed the gun despite knowing that he was an addict. Last we checked, 3 counts is roughly 90% fewer counts than 34. So, if the jurors agree on the facts of the case, they should reach a verdict today, either a little or a lot faster than the Trump jury did (11 hours of deliberations, in that case). On the other hand, if they don't reach a verdict today, then you have to figure a hung jury is a real possibility.

And now, let us note that we dislike writing about the Biden trial, even more than we disliked writing about the Trump trial. We're not lawyers and, TV procedurals notwithstanding, the legal process is kinda long and boring. That said, both trials figure to be a big part of the discourse during this election cycle. It's obvious why that would be true of the Trump trial, since he's a candidate for president. And while the Hunter Biden trial has absolutely nothing to do with Joe Biden, in that the President had nothing to do with the alleged crimes, the Trumpers are going to use the Biden trial as the foundation of their "whataboutism" arguments as they try to excuse The Donald's behavior.

That said, it's going to be somewhere between "tough" and "nearly impossible" to turn the Biden prosecution into political ammunition. If he's found guilty, then that really guts the claim that the Democrats/the White House are secretly running the justice system. And even if the First Son is exonerated, or he gets a hung jury, the fact is that he still went through the meat grinder, with his "corrupt" father not getting involved. There's no doubt the die-hard Trumpers can overcome whatever amount of cognitive dissonance they need to overcome, but they don't matter, since they are voting Trump anyhow. It's the fence-sitters that matter. And regardless of what happens with Hunter Biden (who, after all, will never be president), it's going to be hard to use him to erase the black mark that is now on Trump's résumé. Indeed, bringing up Hunter Biden might serve only to underscore Trump's own legal problems. Perhaps the best evidence here is this: Although Trump once made frequent references to the "Biden crime family," he has pointedly avoided the subject while Hunter Biden was actually on trial. Why do you think that might be? We have a pretty good idea as to the answer, and it's not "Trump respects the sanctity of the process."

And as long as we are on that subject, Trump completed his mandatory pre-sentencing interview on Monday, meeting online with a probation officer for about half an hour. The big question is if the probation officer sensed any remorse or accountability from the former president. On one hand, Trump is not someone who admits fault easily, and he also doesn't want to give the base the slightest indication that he might just be guilty. On the other hand, showing some contrition is the very best way to minimize the punishment, and it's possible that Trump might have a bit more humility in private than is possible with his public persona. We tend to assume he was still defiant, but we're at least open to the possibility that he toned it down a little. In any case, the sentence he receives in exactly 1 month will give us a clue as to how he comported himself. (Z)

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