Not Breaking News and Stop Lying to Your Followers It is: David Weiss Indicts Hunter Biden

As promised, David Weiss has indicted the President’s son. As I suspected, he added a False Statements charge, on top of the weapons charge, so even if SCOTUS rules 18 USC 922 to be unconstitutional, Weiss will still have a felony against Hunter.

He charged a total of three charges.

This is where things start to get interesting.

Remember: Abbe Lowell insists that Weiss can’t charge Hunter, because he Weiss signed a diversion agreement that — per AUSA Leo Wise — was a binding contract between DE USAO and Hunter. Over the weekend, I wrote about how even with this indictment, Weiss may have far less leverage over Hunter than he thinks.

75 replies
  1. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Well, this should be interesting.

    No matter what the outcome here, Republicans are getting the public spectacle they wanted.

    I’m running out of words strong enough to express the disdain I feel for the GOP at this point.

    • Golden Bough says:

      To quote the late Chester Bennington, “and in the end, it doesn’t even matter.”

      Regardless of the outcome, the circus eventually packs up, and all that will be left are various piles of elephant droppings.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        Even circus elephants, before they leave town, can do a shitload of damage, especially if they’re spooked.

        For me, the silver lining part of this news is that if it does get to trial (and even in pre-trial), it will not be drug out; Hunter will want closure soon, but with clear. directive reference to similar cases’ outcomes with cooperating defendants like him. One point they’ll possilbly make is that, given his media exposure and family support, he’s among the least likely of backsliders. Plus, he’s already corrected his behavior, fulfilled his obligations, and made public his acknowledgement of past failings and his sincere attention to rehabilitation.

        In a sense, it must seem somewhat like a relief, to be able to say, “Game on.”

        The ’24 election looms as large for him as it does for anyone. I think that must be a huge part of the reason Clark was so dogged igoing for a plea deal/diversion. It can’t be discounted from the perspective of a returned prodigal son who’s aready caused his father a significant load of grief.

      • giorgino says:

        To quote Bob Dylan:
        They’re selling postcards of the hanging
        They’re painting the passports brown
        The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
        The circus is in town
        Here comes the blind commissioner
        They’ve got him in a trance
        One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
        The other is in his pants
        And the riot squad, they’re restless
        They need somewhere to go
        As lady and I look out tonight, from Desolation Row

  2. Matt Foley says:

    Dear Kevin Taylor Gaetz,
    Americans demand answers to the allegations of Jared’s $2 billion corruption with the Saudis. Here’s some actual (not imaginary) evidence to help get you started:

    “I have Jared in my pocket.”
    -Saudi prince MBS

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Since SC Smith is busy, AG Garland needs to step up here to investigate, not only because of several coinkydinks like the alleged kill list and the Khashoggi murder as an alleged quid pro quo for desperately needed 2 B$ (3 B$ if the Qataris are added in), but because the ongoing manipulation of the oil market is clearly intended to interfere with the election by causing economic pain at an inconvenient point.

    • GSSH-FullyReduced says:

      Recall Republican GWBush quickly rounded-up Saudi Royal Fam and flew them out of our country following 911.

      Do you really think any Republicans are going to support an investigation of Jared’s Billion$ from his pillowfriends in Riyadh?

  3. Rugger_9 says:

    No doubt Abbe Lowell predicted this was coming and has taken steps to blow holes in the prosecution. It seems to me that this is actually too soon unless there is another case coming in LA on the taxes. The gun case might be wrapped before the end of the year with a dismissal.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          That’s my thinking on the timing. What the RWNM will probably have is a big whiff they can’t pin on Joe Biden.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          That’s because for ‘Hunter’ read ‘Joe’ in the case filings, especially considering the caterwauling coming out of Comer, et al that nothing was pinned to POTUS.

          This could have been dragged out in the press all next year, but since the indictment is out now and Lowell’s ready this will be well into the past by the time the election comes around.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The utility to the GOP of making exaggerated or false claims against the president’s vulnerable adult son has nothing to do with the outcome of a one-day trial, regardless of the charges.

        • ButteredToast says:

          No outcome would stop the screaming from the GOP and RW media, true. But a dismissal or a trial finishing sooner rather than later could hinder their efforts to bring Hunter Biden into “mainstream” media headlines (and to the attention of low-info voters) during the homestretch of the campaign.

    • Shadowalker says:

      Tax charges as misdemeanors do not require a grand jury, to get them raised to a felony he has to show intent, not an easy thing when the taxes were paid, plus there needs to be IRS notices to the filer informing of the discrepancies. The tax system is an honor based system, so the IRS has to establish that the errors were communicated to the filer in writing over a period of time (usually years).

      • emptywheel says:

        I readily assume he’ll indict on felonies, or is trying to use this charge to convince Hunter to plead to something more.

        THis charge is entirely about leverage. It’s all about leverage.

        We’ll just see whether Noreika remembered Wise telling her this was a signed contract.

        • Shadowalker says:

          What else could he plead to? FARA? That would implicate his father while in office, and you know where that would go.

          I think Weiss is stuck, he can’t shut it down and call it a day, which gives Lowell access to the laptops the DOJ has had for going on 4 and 3 years now, and he can only charge really weak charges that are running into SOL. Getting a grand jury to pass a true bill is the easy part, now it has to get through the courts, and because the burden of proof is always on the accuser whether it is civil and (especially) criminal.

      • posaune says:

        Seems like Roger Stone had a tax case felony related to his Florida residence a while back — seems like it just went away quietly b/c he must have paid the taxes.

    • bloopie2 says:

      And the Georgia matter may move quickly, also. The judge there has ruled that Chesebro and Powell will go to trial in October (to meet their speedy trial demands), without the other defendants. We’ll have to see how the State addresses that; how little or how much evidence it puts in. But, maybe a holiday present for one side or the other?

        • iamevets says:

          Willis team is already on record saying they have to put all 150 witnesses on for all the different trials. I guess they would have to walk that back. And it would take 4 months.

          After the first trial all those witnesses will be subjected to much abuse from the unregulated right wing. And weaknesses in testimony evaluated and attacked. And consistency of witness testimony once, twice, thrice–who knows how many trials for the 19 would happen, until eventually after delays Trump’s team gets a chance. Hell, a lot of the work would be done for him.

          Think it would be easy for unwilling witnesses (unindicted co-conspirators) to testify inconsistently, and make it easier for subsequent defendant’s trials to win a not guilty verdict. Hell, even the best of us would likely testify with inconsistencies because memory, especially under the pressure of cross examination, is fleeting.

          What a mess.

    • Mutaman says:

      Now Texas has got a bad reputation for a while
      Because of what happened a long time ago down in Waco
      And our corporations, some of them are a little sketchy
      And our politicians, most of them are loco
      But when it comes to music my friend, I can’t believe these words
      Are as true as St. John the Revelator
      Yeah, Stevie Ra Vaughan was the best guitar player I ever heard
      No band was cooler than the 13th Floor Elevators!
      So screw you, we’re from Texas
      Screw you, we’re from Texas
      Screw you, we’re from Texas
      We’re from Texas, screw you

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Your most recent two comments were held up in moderation because your email address included “101” instead of “1010” you’ve used previously. I’ve edited them this once; they may not clear in the future. We don’t even ask for a working address, just that you use the same one consistently. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  4. Matt Foley says:

    I demand Hunter serve the same prison time that convicted felon Roger Stone did. An eye for an eye. No more two tiers of justice.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Roger Stone is not out of the woods yet. Defendant-1’s pardon was limited to the case he already had in federal court, but not beyond that IIRC.

  5. Upisdown says:

    Let the games begin.

    Questions. Is this form a normal requirement on gun purchases? Does it apply to gun show sales between individuals? Are there ways around completing the form?

    It would seem to me that any Venn Diagram of gun owners and drug users would have a considerable overlap.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      As the old Glenn Frey song had it: ‘you always carry guns because you always carry cash’, and Hunter’s status as Joe’s son made him a very inviting target for kidnapping.

    • nord dakota says:

      I looked up ATF policy during a local reddit debate about medical marijuana (available in my red state) and gun purchases.
      Pro tip from ATF: don’t use your medical marijuana card as ID when buying a gun,
      form 4473 question 21-g
      Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
      Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized
      for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.
      You must answer yes or no

  6. Ed Walker says:

    So why would the gun charges be dismissed as Marcy says is possible? Well, because there was no crime like this in 1791, when the 2A was adopted, so under Bruen, the law is unconstitutional.

    This case is just like Rahimi, now before SCOTUS. In that case Rahimi was convicted of carrying a gun while under a domestic violence restraining order. That’s analogous to the statute HB is charged under. Tough to see how they don’t stand or fall together. So, the gun nuts, including the Reoublican politicians on SCOTUS, have a dilemma. Free Rahimi means free HB.

    • Dean Surkin says:

      Consistency and following precedent has, to date, not troubled the Alito-Thomas faction (they’ll be joined by between 2 to 4 more justices on any given case).

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I thought Rahimi wasn’t just carrying but shot that gun, five or six times, at the car his girlfriend was driving. I’ll admit, the legal convolutions of this case confuse me. These actions may postdate the SCOTUS case.

      But if Rahimi is vindicated, especially after Bruen, I’d expect Lowell to add that to his quiver.

  7. freebird says:

    I just read the joint ATF, FBI and Justice Department memo. The gun purchaser self reports drug usage. If the user says no, how you prove he was on drugs over the prior 12 months? Without a blood or saliva test, you cannot prove drugs were in someone’s system. Illicit street drugs are not tested for purity. Gosh, my brother planted seeds that he thought were hybrid marijuana seeds that turned out to be tomato seeds for $60.

    • P J Evans says:

      There are houseplants that look remarkably like pot (if you’ve never seen the real thing up close). And friend had a plastic pot plant (about a foot tall) that had a couple of leaves removed by someone who was *really* dim.

      • Shadowalker says:

        The problem is asking an addict if they are doing something unlawful (define unlawful), and there is another problem of proving he knew he was addicted at the time he filled out the form. It’s sort of like perjury, they have to prove the defendant KNEW they were lying in that exact moment while they were under oath. Even if they prove they knew the truth before and after they took the oath, if they can’t prove that exact moment.

        This is all moot if the question gets ruled unconstitutional. Or the courts decide that the diversion agreement is enforceable. Or it gets thrown out for violating due process. Or any other option Lowell knows that I don’t.

        “ Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

    • nord dakota says:

      They don’t look anything alike!
      But I got searched at US border with Mexico because the car I had in college came from my parents’ farm (cute little Ford Falcon) and had alfalfa seeds scattered on the dashboard.
      Friend of my kids got a manufacturing charge the day before his 18th birthday–a drug raid based on CI information. They found a gutted TV lined in foil, and a single sad dried up marijuana seedling in a styrofoam coffee cup with dried up dirt. They also found a pipe, so they settled for misdemeanor para charge)

      • jdmckay8 says:

        I had an acquaintance in High School, brother of a close friend, who came by often asking me to go smoke some pot with him. I wasn’t into it at all. Hadn’t thought about him in 50+ yrs until I read your comment.

        He told me once he was driving and smoking, and go pulled over. Said he swallowed the little pot he had. Cop came to his window, motioned to roll down the window. One breath there after, the cop told him to get out of his car. Cop proceeded to get on his knees, poking around the driver’s seat looking for evidence. Took a minute or 2, the Cop stood up, and stuck his open hand palm up with 2 seeds in my friend’s face.

        Cop: “I got you.”
        My friend, after slapping bottom of Cop’s hand sending the 2 seeds into the wind: “NO YOU DON’T!”

        • Just Some Guy says:

          Seems like a good way to catch a felony assault charge, probably some others too, which I’d guess probably has more severe consequences than the two seeds would’ve got him.

        • Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

          But I do for assault when you slapped the “evidence” out of my hand.

          A cop willing to pinch someone for 2 damn seeds will make the hand-slapping seem like attempted murder.

  8. Rugger_9 says:

    A fair amount of hay is being made about the idea that it’s the ‘lying on the form’ piece, not so much the gun possession piece that is a problem.

    Well, then, how many times did Jared lie / mislead / provide incomplete answers on his SF86 before his father in law ordered the clearance provided anyway? IIRC it was something like 3-5 times.

  9. Chuffles says:

    If any of this goes to trial, is there a way that Hunter turns this around on the prosecutors? Does this expose anyone for potentially violating his rights? Lies, prosecutorial misconduct, leaks, etc.?

    • Rugger_9 says:

      It was a topic during Durham’s Sussmann faceplant of a trial. Short answer: no, because prosecutors have wide discretion and federal immunity as long as they stay within the rules of conduct including having a probable cause (the signature).

      The way I usually describe it is that incompetence is not actionable but illegality (such as stalking) would be. However, IANAL.

  10. nord dakota says:

    So far, the alleged offenses basically involve the same events that were the basis of his previous charges.
    I realize that any person who lives in a legalized marijuana (medical or otherwise) state and has taken advantage of those same laws and buys a gun is committing exactly the same federal crimes HB is being charged with. And the other end of the drugs-weapons spectrum are people with lots of drugs and lots of guns and trading in both. You can’t convince me that Boebert hasn’t used legal weed in CO for all the guns she has.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Vaping, on tape near a pregnant woman who (along with a couple of others) asked Boebert to stop. Ever classy, Boebert’s hubby / date / squeeze ripped on the pregnant lady for asking Boebert to stop.

  11. havaheart says:

    I doubt that DOJ will win this one. As I read the statute, the two charges survive or fail together. The ban on gun purchases by drug users almost certainly will be stricken as unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bruen. If that happens, the false statements charge fails too because those false statements on the application must be “material to the lawfulness of the sale,” 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(6).

    • havaheart says:

      There is a third count for knowingly making false statements under 922(a)(6). The same reasoning applies – if the ban on gun purchases for unlawful drug users or those addicted to a controlled substance is unconstitutional, the statements about unlawful drug use and/or addiction to a controlled substance are not material.

  12. P’villain says:

    Thank you for the timely headline, Dr. Wheeler. Not everything old is historic, and not everything new is news.

  13. T A EZ Frye says:

    So Hunter signed a form when purchasing a gun which stated he was not addicted to drugs.
    One of the symptoms of drug addiction is denial.
    How one earth they can prosecute this garbage is beyond me when it’s a logical impossibility for the defendant to have a culpable state of mind.

    Oh well, maybe it will be a big 2nd Amendment victory and we can get drug addicts carrying guns without fear of consequence. Sheesh

  14. Upisdown says:

    Silly me. I used to believe this law was intended to take guns off the streets. Or felons off the streets. Or drug dealers off the streets. Now I learn it was intended to take Bidens off the streets.

  15. Marinela says:

    Bill Barr had a interview, I think it was on Firing Line. He made a point to taking credit for starting the investigation into Hunter Biden. He was basically implying that it is democrats’ fault that democrats wanted enforcement on the gun laws. Then with a forced smile, he was like, who do you think I first seen as a candidate for enforcing these laws? He basically admitted Hunter was the first that DOJ decided to enforce the gun laws. The whole exchange was so gross…

  16. David F. Snyder says:

    “Fake impeachment. Fake indictment.” But, really, do the GOP masterminds think this will save them next year? I smell desperation. Or maybe this is how they get rid of Trump without offending the MAGAs. Weiss is going to look even more foolish than Durham after this fiasco is over. There’s nothing like ending your career on a faceplate.

    • Rwood0808 says:

      Durham doesn’t look foolish to the MAGA cult, if anything he’s exactly the opposite. In their online echo chamber they consistently post videos of him testifying. Cherry-picked one-liners and him spouting carefully crafted statements that were obviously made for future repetition are the name of the game. For them he’s a huge marketing asset, one that comes with a big fat DOJ stamp on it.

      I keep seeing the various charges picked apart here and that’s great, but as was said upthread; “in the end, it doesn’t even matter”.

      Charging Hunter is a win-win for the GOP marketing machine, and yes they know they will lose the battle in court. They don’t care. They want the issue far more than they want the win. A loss just lets them scream and yell that the Justice system let Joes Kid off while simultaneously charging and convicting trump. “Two-tiered justice!!” will be the new “Lock her up”. trump will of course play the part of the victim.

      The same goes for the BS indictment. They’ll blow that up as much as possible and drag it out for as long as they can. It’s the new “Benghazi!”

      Trey Gowdy must be insanely jealous.

  17. Bleeding Gums Murphy says:

    A question about the Ga. case: if it is correct (IANAL) that what one in a conspiracy is guilty of, all are guilty of, is there any claim on the part of those who have not insisted on speedy trials to participate in some way in the trials of the two who are going first? If I were a lawyer and my client was conceivably later to be exposed to liability for what is being tried at this first proceeding, I would want to have a chance at participation…cross, for example.

    Just wondering. Hope my question is not idiotic.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      In my definitively vague understanding, this question points to a reason some of the lawyers here find the GA RICO statute to be overly broad. I would add to your question, if the first two are found guilty, can that finding become evidence in the later trial of other defendants? For example, a guilty finding would entail a finding that a conspiracy existed. If this finding can be introduced as evidence, then all that needs to be shown is that the defendant participated in the legally proven conspiracy. And there are other such complications. The whole set-up makes me think of Kafka.

      Even for those being tried together, will the verdict necessarily be all of them or none of them, assuming the not-necessarily-criminal behaviors are found to have occurred? If, once a conspiracy is proven, are they all guilty of the same crime–the small-town administrators who were dazzled as well as those who organized the whole thing? Are different sentences given for different levels of involvement? If so, this seems inconsistent with the basic notion that only one crime is being tried, the conspiracy. I love it for this case, but the whole thing seems like a logical tangle leading to powerful potential for abuse.

      • Frank Probst says:

        Not a lawyer, but it seems to me that there should be well-established rules regarding conspiracy charges in general that cover this, so that if conspirators are tried at different times, everyone knows what can and can’t be taken from an early trial and used at later trials against other co-conspirators. (My guess is that the defense usually agree to simply stipulate that a lot of things are true, and they force the prosecution to re-present only the witnesses that they really think they need to cross-examine.)

  18. Boatsail says:

    AG Merrick Garland was supposed to insulate his Justice Department from politics.

    And yet when the REpublican U.S. Attorney from Delaware David Weiss reneged on a plea agreement he reached with Hunter Biden in the face of Congressional criticism that it was a “sweetheart deal” Garland maintained his thumb up his Butt and let it happen.

    Garland should be condemned as well as the unethical and dishonorable S. Attorney Weiss.

  19. Upisdown says:

    Apparently, Step 12 of the twelve step recovery program is: “Go to jail for the things you did before entering this program.”

    Why else would we pass legislation designed to get recovering addicts off the street?

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      None of this has anything to do with recovery. Those of us who fight that battle every day take a bitter solace in knowing that this is only happening to RHB because he is the president’s son. But I can’t help also thinking that nothing could be better designed to push me back into using drugs: the constant, prying coverage; the double standards; the rules changing at the last minute.

      Hunter has more resources than most of us to withstand all this. But on a human level, if James Comer or Jim Jordan ever says they care about their own constituents’ battles with addiction, this is yet more reason not to believe them. Recovery is agonizing, every day, no matter how rich or connected you are.

      While it’s become fashionable on the left to write off Hunter Biden’s life as a morass of “bad judgment” and “wrong choices,” I can’t forget he’s another addict trying, it seems, to stay clean. Among our fellowship, we support each other no matter how bad the choices we made while using.

      Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, my mom used to say. Bathwater can get murky, but we must remember there was a baby in there once.

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