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Double blow for Biden: impeachment proceedings and indictment against the son

2023-09-15T09:14:20.067Z

Highlights: Biden's son, Hunter, was charged with making false statements and illegally possessing weapons. This came two days after Republicans in the House of Representatives launched formal impeachment proceedings over whether the president had profited from his son's dealings. The two developments underscored the challenges Biden faces in running for a second term. Some Democrats are increasingly concerned about his weak points, including his age, as polls show a close race between him and Trump. The legal and political clouds hanging over Hunter Biden add to these concerns.



Status: 15.09.2023, 11:02 a.m.

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Joe Biden faces major challenges not only politically, but also privately: Are the problems big enough to prevent his re-election?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the space of just 48 hours this week, President Joe Biden suffered a double onslaught of political and personal setbacks. His son's business dealings and his personal problems caused new turmoil at a time when his advisers wanted to draw attention to the problems of former President Donald Trump and Republicans in the House of Representatives.

On Thursday, Biden's son, Hunter, was charged with making false statements and illegally possessing weapons, paving the way for a criminal case that could take place during Biden's re-election. This came two days after Republicans in the House of Representatives launched formal impeachment proceedings over whether the president had profited from his son's dealings, although they have so far been able to provide little evidence to support it.

Neither the investigation nor the indictment came unexpectedly, but the two developments underscored the challenges Biden faces in running for a second term. He has no serious competitor for the Democratic nomination, but some Democrats are increasingly concerned about his weak points, including his age, as polls show a close race between him and Trump, the top candidate for the Republican nomination.

Indictment against son "incriminates" Joe Biden and his family

The legal and political clouds hanging over Hunter Biden add to these concerns. "It's always a problem," former Senator Doug Jones (Democrats, Alabama), an ally of Biden, said of the indictment of Hunter Biden. "It puts a strain on him and the whole family. The fact is that this president lets the Department of Justice do its job and does not interfere. The chips will fall where they will fall.

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Trump's criminal proceedings related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his alleged mishandling of classified documents have largely dwarfed Biden's challenges so far. But impeachment proceedings and the indictment of an immediate family member, especially so close to each other, represent a remarkable pair of setbacks for a president, a reality that could become even more evident with the official start of proceedings in the courtroom and the Capitol.

Jones said he expects the trial to end with a solution favorable to Hunter Biden. In the meantime, he predicted, the president will focus on selling his record to voters.


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"It's significant and historic," the former senator said of Biden's achievements. "That's what he's going to lean on. I don't think the American people care if a son has been charged with a gun offense."


US President Joe Biden has suffered personal and political setbacks. © Abaca/Imago

Some Republicans see more of a problem for the president. "Biden has had a very hard time gaining momentum on the road to his re-election," said Jesse Hunt, a Republican strategist and former communications director for the Republican Governors Association. "This is another worrying development for him, when voters already doubt his competence. It gives them another reason to see him in a negative light."

Hunter Biden: Deal with the judiciary failed

The indictment against Hunter Biden follows the failure of a deal in which he would have pleaded guilty to two tax offences while admitting illegal possession of the gun but not pleading guilty to the crime.


With this deal, he probably could have avoided jail time. Instead, Hunter Biden could now stand trial in the middle of his father's re-election campaign, and it is possible that further tax evasion charges could be brought against him.


Hunter Biden's legal team argues that the deal fell through due to pressure from right-wing Republicans, who complained that the president's son got off lightly.


"As expected, prosecutors today filed charges that they felt were unwarranted just six weeks ago after a five-year investigation into this case," Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's attorney, said in a statement. "The evidence on this matter hasn't changed in the last six weeks, but the law has changed, and so has the inappropriate and partisan interference of MAGA Republicans in this process."


In the House of Representatives, it is not clear whether the investigation will lead to actual impeachment proceedings against Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Republican, California) arbitrarily ordered the investigation when Republicans lacked the votes in the House plenary to initiate such a procedure.

Nevertheless, such an investigation is a rarity in American history. Impeachment proceedings have been initiated against three presidents - Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump, who has suffered this humiliation twice. None of them were convicted by the Senate, which acts as a jury in such cases.

Republicans want to use Hunter Biden's problems against the president

The president's relatives have also caused problems in the past, but rarely in this way. "Having a son or daughter who gets into trouble is nothing new," says historian Douglas Brinkley. "Billy Carter and Roger Clinton never played a big role in the White House, while the story with Hunter Biden is about making the connection with his father."

Billy Carter, the brother of President Jimmy Carter, faced a Senate investigation for alleged interference. Roger Clinton, Bill Clinton's half-brother, had drug problems and was pardoned by his brother for a drug conviction.


Biden is known to be very worried about his surviving son, who went through a severe drug addiction a few years ago. Hunter Biden spent two weeks at the White House this summer, and most of the president's advisers avoid talking to the president about his son's problems, believing that their contributions and ideas are not welcome, even though they are concerned about the personal toll the problems take on him.

Senior presidential advisers briefed him on an economic speech in Maryland shortly after the charges against his son were announced and less than an hour before he left the White House on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked to remain anonymous because she was not authorized to speak publicly. Biden did not comment on the charges on Thursday, and officials said the White House has no plans to do so, as they want to emphasize that the Justice Department's case against Hunter Biden is independent.

But as a father, the president — whose other son, Beau, died of cancer in 2015 — is particularly sensitive to Hunter's legal problems. When the deal with Hunter Biden fell through in July, the president was blindsided and frustrated, believing his son's legal problems were largely behind him, according to people familiar with his response.


"His son's legal status must be extremely painful for him, but he must endure it," said former Senator Bob Kerrey (Democrats, Nebraska), who served with Biden in the Senate.

Both father and son have spoken about Hunter's battle with addiction, and the president has often shared how proud he is of his son's recovery.


Republicans initiate impeachment proceedings against Joe Biden: "Unevidenced goose hunt"

Republicans have yet to provide evidence showing that the president has benefited from his son's foreign business, but many of the most conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives had urged McCarthy to formally begin impeachment proceedings. Some even said they would not support government funding if McCarthy did not agree.


"They don't have any evidence, so they're starting the next phase of their unevidenced goose hunt just to throw red meat at the right wing so they can continue to attack the president for no reason to play extreme politics," Ian Sams, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.


But, as with any investigation, there are risks for the president. Congress likely has expanded powers to investigate Biden's finances and could devote more resources to investigations into the president and his family.


"Going through impeachment proceedings is never a badge of honor," Brinkley said. "It's not something the president desires or wants, but it's part of our new civil war between Democrats and Republicans."


He added: "The armament of impeachment proceedings is now in full bloom. It was always the fear of a double impeachment trial against Trump that this day would come. You don't really need evidence to start impeachment proceedings – you just need the political will to do it. It's just another manifestation of toxicity in our policy."

About the author

Tyler Pager is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. He joined the newspaper in 2021 after covering the White House on Politico and the 2020 presidential campaign on Bloomberg News. He was awarded the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency in 2022.

We are currently testing machine translations. This article has been automatically translated from English into German.

This article was first published in English on September 15, 2023 by "Washingtonpost.com" - in the course of a cooperation, it is now also available in translation to the readers of IPPEN. MEDIA portals.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-09-15

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