Editorial: Do process: Hunter Biden conviction is how the system works

Tuesday, Hunter Biden was convicted by a Delaware federal jury on three felony counts related to his purchase of a firearm in 2018. This trial and conviction is how things are supposed to work.

His guilt hinged on whether Biden was being honest when he answered on the federal gun purchase form that he was not addicted to or using illegal drugs. His lawyers had argued that Biden had completed a rehabilitation program and did not think of himself as an addict at the time he completed the form. The prosecution argued he was lying, and the jury thought this to be a more plausible explanation, which seems fair.

You’ll notice who was not part of this sequence of events: Joe Biden, who at the 2018 time of this crime was not in government and not involved in his son’s very bad decision-making apart from giving him the support we should all want families to provide those in recovery. This certainly won’t matter to the political operatives who will try to paint this as all but the president’s direct responsibility, but the repetition doesn’t make it true.

Congressional Republicans were unable to find any nexus between the then-vice president and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere, collapsing the incredibly flimsy impeachment inquiry they’d been pursuing, but there’s no chance they’ll let this go.

President Joe Biden, predictably, says he “accept[s] the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.” He also ruled out any presidential pardon for his wayward son. It was the correct reaction for a president.

This is a decidedly different response to a legitimate unanimous jury guilty verdict in a legitimate criminal prosecution than what happened with Donald Trump’s reaction to his own trial and verdict in Manhattan.

The Department of Justice is following the rules, as did the judge and the jury of 12 Delawareans. It’s all very normal, but for the fact it’s the president’s son in the dock, which is why there was a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to make sure that the prosecution proceeded independently, as it did.

As things move to sentencing, Hunter must receive nothing more and nothing less than the average defendant in his position, which is to say a first-time offender convicted of a few nonviolent felonies. That may well mean that he receives some prison time or none at all. Both would be legitimate, even though no prison may be received in some quarters as the result of some politically-captured judge, ignoring of course that Judge Maryellen Noreika was appointed by Trump. Hunter faces another federal case in California in September as his legal woes mount.

Meanwhile, the House GOP continues its push to hold Garland in contempt for not providing audio recordings that the other special counsel, Robert Hur, made with his interviews with President Biden, despite already having the transcripts of this inquiry that notably did not lead to Hur recommending charges in the mishandled classified documents probe. In that investigation, the process also worked, without fear or favor. That’s the American way, to show respect for our principles of law and due process.