Opinion: Sorry, MAGA, Gun Criminal Hunter Biden Is Good for Joe

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

After Donald Trump’s criminal conviction on 34 felony counts and Hunter Biden’s criminal conviction on three felony counts, I have decided I am not voting for Donald Trump or Hunter Biden.

In all seriousness, we are living in a remarkable moment in history when a former and possibly future president is a criminally convicted felon and the sitting president’s son is now also a criminally convicted felon. Both facts have major implications for both the presidential election, but also the future of America’s institutions. But Trump supporters celebrating Hunter Biden’s conviction are doing so way too soon, and way too ridiculously—in political terms, the conviction benefits Joe Biden, not Trump.

MAGA Nation Finds Reason to Be Furious Over Hunter Biden Conviction

Following Trump’s criminal conviction, Trump and his allies were quick to say that we are living in a “banana republic” with a “rigged” justice system being “weaponized” by Joe Biden against Donald Trump and, next, his supporters. Despite the reality that Biden had nothing to do with Trump’s New York state conviction, the narrative took hold on much of the right. But just a few weeks later, the American justice system—this time the United States Department of Justice—would find Hunter Biden guilty on criminal charges stemming from unlawful ownership of a firearm.

There is perhaps no starker evidence that America’s justice system, flawed as it may be, acts without fear or favor, striving for impartiality, than the criminal conviction of a sitting president’s son. It proves once again that no one is above the law, despite Trumpworld's spin.

MAGA seemed at first happy with the verdict. “GUILTY. Accountability for the Biden Crime Family at last?” Representative Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, wrote on X. Sean Hannity posted a gleeful “GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! Hunter Biden Convicted of All 3 Felonies in Federal Gun Trial.”

But for a gathering wave of angry voices, it was not punishment enough. Kentucky Republican James Comer wrote, “Today’s verdict is a step toward accountability but until the Department of Justice investigates everyone involved in the Bidens’ corrupt influence peddling schemes that generated over $18 million in foreign payments to the Biden family, it will be clear department officials continue to cover for the Big Guy, Joe Biden.”

U.S. President Joe Biden embraces his grandson, Beau Biden, alongside his daughter-in-law, Melissa Cohen Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, who earlier in the day was found guilty on all three counts in his criminal gun charges trial. June 11, 2024.

President Joe Biden embraces his grandson Beau Biden, alongside his daughter-in-law Melissa Cohen Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, who earlier in the day was found guilty on all three counts in his criminal gun charges trial.

Anna Rose Layden/Reuters

“This trial has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine,” the Trump campaign said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. “Crooked Joe Biden’s reign over the Biden Family Criminal Empire is all coming to an end on November 5th, and never again will a Biden sell government access for personal profit.”

Stephen Miller, a top Trump adviser, took to X to blame Biden’s Justice Department. “DOJ is running election interference for Joe Biden—that’s why DOJ did NOT charge Hunter with being an unregistered foreign agent (FARA) or any crime connected with foreign corruption. Why? Because all the evidence would lead back to JOE,” he wrote on X, seemingly trying to link the president and his son’s finances. “DOJ is Joe’s election protection racket,” he added.

But all this hot air—and excitable word salads—disguise the truth: that the crimes, misdeeds, lies, and conduct of Donald Trump are of a far graver order than Hunter Biden’s crimes. They are not equivalent, and the impact of a second Trump presidency—and the threat he represents to democracy and decency—are on such a huge scale that MAGA’s obsessive salivating over Hunter Biden looks ever more and more absurd.

Ultimately, this will become a tale of two criminal convictions. In the case of Donald Trump, the allegations were salacious, and the behavior outside of the courtroom and constant attacks on the judge proved absurd. Trump has spent the weeks since his criminal conviction invoking rage and retribution.

Juxtapose Trump’s response of rage, retribution, and criticizing America’s institutions with President Biden’s response to Hunter Biden’s criminal conviction. President Biden issued a statement citing families who have battled addiction, saying he loves his son, and that he will “respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.” Biden’s statement was a stark contrast to Trump’s rage-filled responses to his own conviction. Hunter Biden issued a statement thanking his loved ones for supporting him and noting that recovery from addiction is possible.

Two-thirds of Americans have been touched by addiction through family and loved ones. My family has been personally impacted by it, as have tens of millions of others. A loved one engaging in unlawful behavior while under the influence of drugs is sadly relatable to countless Americans. How many Americans can actually relate to—and have empathy for—paying a large sum of hush money in a scheme to hide an alleged affair with an adult film star to protect your image? I’d venture to say: few.

It should be no surprise that Trump’s lead among independents has precipitously dropped in recent weeks. A new CBS News poll found Trump’s lead among independents dropped by 17 points, swinging in Joe Biden’s favor from March of this year to June.

An ABC/Ipsos poll found that 52 percent of independents and 16 percent of Republicans believed Trump should suspend his presidential campaign because of the criminal conviction. That 16 percent of Republicans should set off alarm bells at Mar-a-Lago considering that it closely reflects the percentages of Republican voters in GOP primaries that turned out to vote for Nikki Haley, likely as a protest vote against Donald Trump.

A lot of political norms have died in the Trump era, but it seems that not electing a criminally convicted felon to the presidency may be one of the few norms that’s remained.

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, arrives at the federal court with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, on the opening day of his trial on criminal gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., June 3, 2024.

Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen Biden on the opening day of his trial on criminal gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The Hunter Biden political football won’t soon go away. Many on the right took the news of Hunter Biden’s conviction to claim he was simply not prosecuted for the more serious crimes he engaged in. For years, rumors and innuendo around Hunter Biden’s misdemeanors have percolated in media and political circles. It was a known fact that he could pose a liability for President Biden.

But House Republicans have spent years dedicating committee investigations and even launching an impeachment inquiry to go after the alleged wrongdoing and both have continued to come up short. To date the inquiry has consisted of dozens of interviews and over 100,000 documents released to the committee and Republicans have been unable to prove a crime that involved Joe Biden. Fox News’ Steve Doocy called out the effort saying he had heard from countless Republicans on Capitol Hill who said they had seen zero evidence of a crime committed by Biden.

It’s no surprise that the prior Congress was the least productive in history and America’s approval of Congress sits at just 13 percent. While we don’t have polling measuring if voters care about the president’s son being convicted of a crime, we do know that the majority of Americans believed Trump’s conviction was the correct decision.

Regardless of what happens with Hunter Biden’s upcoming sentencing or the likely continued efforts by House Republicans to find wrongdoing by the president, it seems that in the tale of two criminal convictions—Donald Trump’s and Hunter Biden’s—both boost Joe Biden.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.