How much legal jeopardy is Hunter Biden in?

“The main legal questions appear to be whether Hunter violated tax laws, committed money laundering, or acted as an unregistered foreign lobbyist.”

“There is nothing inherently illegal about accepting money and gifts from foreign interests if you are a private citizen and your dad is a famous, powerful person. But you do have to pay taxes on it. And according to the New York Times, a federal inquiry into whether Hunter had properly paid his taxes began back during the Obama administration. Then, in 2018, the tax inquiry became a broader criminal investigation into Hunter, conducted by the US attorney’s office in Delaware, examining possible money laundering and whether he was an unregistered foreign agent.”

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“Hunter is also under scrutiny for potential money laundering — basically, bringing foreign funds into the US financial system in connection with some sort of crime. Various financial institutions filed “suspicious activity reports” to the US government about movements of funds in and out of Hunter’s accounts, including to his uncle James Biden.

Though the term “money laundering” may bring to mind drug trafficking or something of the sort, prosecutors can also charge it in connection with more prosaic crimes, such as acting as an unregistered foreign agent. (Manafort was charged with conspiring to launder money for this purpose.)”

“The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires people doing political, public relations, or lobbying work for foreign clients to register with the government as foreign agents. Ordinary business work for foreign clients does not require FARA registration. But when that work moves from the business realm to the political realm — or, importantly, to the public relations realm — that obligation may kick in.

So the question is what kind of work Hunter really did.”

The return of Hunter Biden’s laptop

“The president’s son remains under investigation for matters related to tax payments and his foreign work, the New York Times reported last week. And that report cites emails that, per the Times, are “from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop.””

“nearly a year and a half later, it’s worth revisiting what happened back in the heat of the 2020 campaign. Some decisions and claims look dubious in retrospect. Twitter briefly blocked links to the story for potentially containing hacked material and Facebook briefly restricted it as possible “misinformation” — but it may have been neither. And no evidence has emerged to back up suspicions from former intelligence officials, backed by Biden himself, that the laptop’s leak was a Russian plot.
But the emails were indeed being put out as part of an orchestrated campaign by Trump’s team to try to drive negative media coverage toward Joe Biden shortly before the election. And whatever the revelations about Hunter, claims from conservatives that the leaked emails proved Joe Biden acted corruptly in some way were false — they proved no such thing.”

“There were two supposed “smoking guns” about Joe Biden that conservatives touted in the materials. The first was an email the Post called a “blockbuster,” in which an executive at the Ukrainian gas company Burisma thanked Hunter for the “opportunity to meet your father” in 2015. If you’re steeped in Trumpworld lore, this was damning because of the theory that Biden had the corrupt prosecutor general of Ukraine fired to benefit Burisma, and Biden had said he knew nothing about Hunter’s Ukrainian work, but look, a meeting! (Apparently, it was a dinner at Cafe Milano that Hunter had organized, with about a dozen people.) This appears to amount to Vice President Biden seemingly going to one dinner.

The second involved a business venture that Hunter tried to set up with a Chinese energy tycoon in 2017 (after Joe Biden was no longer vice president). One email mentions that the equity split would include “10 held by H for the big guy ?” A former business partner of Hunter’s named Tony Bobulinski came forward to claim “the big guy” was Joe Biden. But a subsequent email from Hunter says his “Chairman” gave him “an emphatic no,” and a further email clarifies that the chairman is his dad.

So this amounts to Joe Biden apparently refusing some deal Hunter tried to enmesh him in. An alternative possibility is that Joe was not actually ever involved and that Hunter had just been throwing his name around. By Bobulinski’s own account, he briefly met Joe Biden the day before and after an event, and the former vice president only said vague things to him (and the proposed deal never came together in the end).

All of this was indeed covered in the press in October 2020 (I wrote about it at the time). So the real objection from conservatives is that they didn’t get the narrative they liked out of the mainstream media.

Hunter’s emails contained a whole lot of embarrassing and arguably newsworthy material about himself, and the shady foreign business interests of the son of the potential next president are certainly a worthy topic of media coverage. But as for the Biden who was actually on the ballot, there was very little from him personally in those messages (other than an exchange where he comforts his despondent, drug-addicted son). The emails didn’t dominate mainstream media because, at least so far, they didn’t have the goods.”

The New York Times Belatedly Admits the Emails on Hunter Biden’s Abandoned Laptop Are Real and Newsworthy

“The New York Times published a story that quotes emails from a laptop that Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, abandoned at a computer repair shop in Delaware. The messages reinforce the impression that Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that reportedly paid the younger Biden $50,000 a month to serve on its board, expected him to use his influence with his father for the company’s benefit”

“None of this necessarily means that Joe Biden himself did anything improper or illegal. While Trump alleged that Biden was doing Burisma’s bidding when he demanded the dismissal of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, for example, Biden plausibly maintained that the motivation was widely shared concerns about Shokin’s corruption.
Nor does Hunter Biden’s unseemly relationship with Burisma mean that Trump was justified in seeking to discredit the Democrat he expected to face in the presidential election by pressuring the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of the matter. But it surely was a legitimate issue to raise during the presidential campaign, as Guthrie and other journalists unconnected to the Post recognized. The question is why the Times did not, and the answer clearly has more to do with partisan sympathies than the journalistic standards the paper claimed to be defending.”