WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden has gone on the offensive against his Republican critics, arguing in a new lawsuit that even though he is the son of the president of the United States, he should be treated no differently than any other American .
The lawsuit against the IRS is just the latest in a series of counterattacks from the president’s son. But while Hunter Biden’s lawyers may think an aggressive approach is the best legal strategy for Biden the son, that may not be what’s best for Biden the father as he seeks re-election and tries to keep the public focused on his policy achievements .
The president has little to say about his son’s legal troubles — which now include a misdemeanor charge — other than to say Hunter has done nothing wrong and that he loves his son. The White House strategy has been to keep the elder Biden’s head down and focus on governing, reasoning that voters will prioritize that as they work to keep Hunter’s problems at bay to hold.
There’s a hopeful mindset among the president’s allies: Even if all the headlines about Hunter Biden aren’t a plus for the president’s reelection campaign, the legal process could ultimately clear the air in a positive way.
“Clearly the White House and Hunter teams are looking at it from different perspectives,” said Democratic political strategist David Brock. “It’s important that the facts reach the public, and if that happens, I think it will ultimately be to the president’s advantage.”
But privately, some Democrats are concerned that Hunter Biden’s legal troubles could hurt Biden heading into 2024 and spell trouble for Democrats in tight House races, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition. of anonymity.
The lawsuit filed by Hunter Biden against the IRS on Monday alleges that two agents who testified as whistleblowers violated his privacy by publicly disclosing his tax information as part of an investigation by House Republicans into his business dealings.
Hunter Biden’s team last week sued a former aide to Donald Trump over his alleged role in publishing emails and embarrassing images of the younger Biden. And his team has also asked state and federal agencies to launch a criminal investigation into Trump allies for accessing and disseminating his personal data.
Hunter Biden agreed in June to plead guilty to two tax crimes and avoid prosecution on gun charges by enrolling in a diversion program. But the deal unraveled after a July 26 hearing intended to end the matter, and the younger Biden was subsequently charged with a weapons offense.
His legal troubles have made matters increasingly complicated for the president, who is also facing an impeachment inquiry by House Republicans who want to link the president to his son’s business dealings. Although Hunter Biden has brokered business deals over his family name, Republicans have so far found no significant evidence of wrongdoing by the elder Biden, who often spoke to his son as vice president and did drop by a business dinner with his associates son.
Biden doesn’t have much to say about the impeachment proceedings. And he has also stayed away from Justice Department prosecutions against both his son and Donald Trump.
Now Hunter Biden could face trial in the midst of his father’s reelection efforts. That suits Republicans, who are eager to divert attention from the many criminal charges against Trump, the early frontrunner of the Republican Party, whose trials could take place at the same time.
Hunter Biden’s allies have argued that the plea deal fell through in part because Justice Department officials bowed to pressure from Republicans who claimed he got a “sweetheart deal” to end a five-year investigation into his tax and terminate business transactions.
“This is just the beginning and far from the end of Hunter and his team going on the offensive and fighting back,” said Michael LaRosa, former special assistant to the president.
Their previous strategy of not responding has only led to Republicans filling a void with disinformation, slander, lies and conspiracy theories that have severely damaged the president’s image and reputation, as seen in poll after poll. correct the record and fight back,” LaRosa said.
Opinion polls reflect the impact on the president of the drumbeat of negative headlines.
About 1 in 3 Americans are deeply concerned about whether Joe Biden may have committed misconduct related to his son’s business dealings, according to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About half of Americans say they have little or no confidence that the Justice Department is handling its investigation into Hunter Biden in a fair and impartial manner.
The political divide on these issues is stark: 66% of Republicans – and only 7% of Democrats – are very or extremely concerned about whether Joe Biden has committed misconduct when it comes to his son’s business dealings.
The headlines are likely to continue, given the impeachment inquiry that is only increasing and the special counsel’s decision to file federal weapons charges against Hunter Biden.
He is accused of lying on the forms he filled out to purchase a gun, while stating that he was not a drug user at the time of the purchase. Hunter Biden fell into drug addiction after the death of his older brother Beau in 2015, according to his memoir.
Earlier this year, Hunter Biden hired high-profile attorney Abbe Lowell, a legal heavyweight known for also representing Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
Shortly afterwards a criminal referral was requested. In March, Hunter Biden sued a Delaware computer repairman for allegedly having a laptop belonging to the president’s son and distributing data on it. Five days ago, he sued the Trump aide for publishing the data. And on Monday he sued the tax authorities.
“Mr. Biden has no fewer or fewer rights than any other American citizen, and no government agency or government agent has a free hand to violate his rights simply because of who he is,” the lawsuit against the IRS says.
Prosecutions for lying on a federal gun application are unusual, especially when there is no allegation that the gun was purchased to commit a crime, experts say. There are also questions about the constitutionality of the federal ban on gun ownership by people who use drugs in light of a Supreme Court ruling that expanded gun rights.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers have indicated they will try to argue that a deal sparing him prosecution on a gun charge should remain in place even as the plea deal on tax crimes has largely unraveled.
If the case goes to trial, it could be a tough sell to a jury.
“Addiction is something that affects many Americans and the idea that this person who had substance abuse problems and had a firearm for 11 days that was never used for anything, that’s not going to sit well in a federal criminal trial. with many jurors,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor.
“And that’s not even talking about whether people think he’s being prosecuted because he’s Hunter Biden,” she said.
Durkin reported from Boston. Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.