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EDITORIAL: Hunter Biden’s rampant self indulgence, bad judgment

Hunter Biden finds himself in a predicament of his own making. The question President Joe Biden might ask is why his son has allowed his legal travails to drag on to the point that they’ve become a political liability for his father.

A Delaware jury this week convicted the younger Biden on three felony firearms charges related to lying on a federal gun purchase form and illegally possessing a weapon. The charges were clear and the evidence overwhelming. It took jurors just a few hours of deliberation. Sentencing probably will take place early this fall, and Hunter Biden has a right to appeal the verdict.

But his troubles aren’t over. Hunter Biden will go on trial in September for nine felony and misdemeanor tax charges. Federal prosecutors claim the president’s son avoided $1.4 million in taxes in order to fund a party lifestyle that included drugs, alcohol and other vices. He has since made the IRS whole.

Both his sentencing on the gun charges and his prosecution on tax offenses will take place as his father is in the midst of a re-election campaign. The timing is less than propitious for Joe Biden, and Hunter had the opportunity to spare his father the embarrassment. He chose not to.

It is, in fact, rare that federal prosecutions for relatively minor offenses go to trial, particularly when there is little mystery about the defendant’s guilt. Hunter Biden did indeed have the opportunity to take a deal that involved probation on the tax charges in return for the government dropping the gun charges if he stayed out of trouble. But that agreement fell apart when a federal judge last July expressed skepticism about the details and IRS whistleblowers came forward to claim the Justice Department was giving the president’s son preferential treatment.

When prosecutors responded with beefed-up gun charges, Hunter Biden could still have pleaded guilty and accepted the consequences — particularly when a judge was likely to go easier on a remorseful first-time offender. He chose not to, resulting in a trial at which family members were forced to take the stand to offer uncomfortable testimony.

It’s unclear how his defiance is in his best interest — or in the interests of the president. Joe Biden issued a boilerplate statement in the wake of this week’s verdict, saying he “will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.” Interestingly, the White House has not ruled out a potential commutation of Hunter sentence.

The president insists he stands by his son. Given the potential consequences of Hunter Biden’s self-indulgence and despicable judgment — even while in recovery — it’s fair to ask whether that feeling is mutual.

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