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Home » Opinion | Hunter Biden Is Guilty. That’s OK.

Opinion | Hunter Biden Is Guilty. That’s OK.

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As a rule, it is not a good thing for your son to be convicted of a crime, and particularly not when you are the sitting president in the heat of a brutal re-election campaign.

But Hunter Biden’s conviction in federal court on Tuesday, on charges of lying on a firearms application six years ago, is a net positive — not for himself, of course, or his long-suffering family, but ultimately for his father, the American justice system and the rule of law.

After all, isn’t this how it’s supposed to work? You break the law, you face the consequences. Even if you’re the president’s son. Even if you’re the former president.

It was it only two weeks ago that Republicans were thundering about the outrageous injustice of a different guilty verdict. Funny, I haven’t heard much complaining about this one, even though it involves a “paperwork” offense (boo!) that relates to gun regulations (extra boo!). The only complaints I recall were that Hunter was getting off too easy with a plea deal … until that fell through at the last minute.

On Tuesday, the right-wing naysayers got an actual guilty verdict, and still they tied themselves in knots trying to dismiss its significance. (I’ll save you the trouble: To them, Hunter’s conviction is a coverup for his and his dad’s real crimes. Also, any Biden conviction is de facto legitimate while any Trump conviction is de facto fraudulent.) What the hacks couldn’t erase were the unanimous verdicts of two juries in two jurisdictions. (Not to mention the Justice Department’s upcoming and more serious prosecution of Hunter on tax charges.)

Sure, the system is far from perfect. Rich and powerful people get off all the time; poor people more often don’t. And yet the past two weeks have provided an object lesson in the fair administration of justice, and the seriousness that characterizes criminal trials and jury deliberations. We talk a lot about the presumption of innocence, but that foundational principle derives its meaning only within the context of a society that actually holds its wrongdoers to account.

If the Hunter Biden prosecutions illustrate anything, it is that his father’s administration respects equal justice and the rule of law, so much so that the president stood down even as his own flesh and blood was facing a potential prison term. Can you imagine, for even a fraction of a second, Donald Trump allowing the Justice Department — his Justice Department — to prosecute any of his children? Or that he wouldn’t pre-emptively pardon them, just to be doubly safe?

Of course you can’t, and that is as important a difference as exists between the two candidates for president in 2024.

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