• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG

Jun 12, 2024, 2:51pm EDT
North America
icon

Semafor Signals

Hunter Biden guilty verdict stirs Republican conspiracies

Insights from Axios, Politico, and The Washington Post

Arrow Down
President Joe Biden stands with his son Hunter Biden, who earlier in the day was found guilty on all three counts in his criminal gun charges trial, on June 11, 2024.
Anna Rose Layden/REUTERS
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

Hunter Biden became the first child of a sitting US president ever to be convicted of a felony. He was found guilty Tuesday of lying about his drug use while purchasing a gun in 2018. The verdict was handed down just weeks after his father’s Republican challenger Donald Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts, posing a challenge for Trump’s campaign on how to continue to malign the US justice system’s treatment of the former president as a political witch hunt.

The president’s allies sought to contrast his son and Trump’s legal woes, with one adviser to Joe Biden arguing that voters know the difference between “a private citizen and a person who is going to be the Republican nominee.”

AD

It’s unclear whether Hunter Biden will face jail time, though the charges carry a maximum of 25 years. His attorney said he would “continue to vigorously pursue all the legal challenges available.”

icon

SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Republicans reconcile Hunter’s conviction with Trump’s own guilty verdict

Source icon
Source:  
Politico

Republicans had varied responses to the verdict: Trump’s campaign called it a “distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family,” while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene suggested the US Justice Department conspired to use Biden as a “sacrificial lamb” to show it was balanced. The “divergent” responses highlighted “the party’s struggle to reconcile what should have been a political win — the criminal conviction of the president’s son — with the guilty verdict rendered against their own standard bearer,” Politico wrote. One GOP strategist acknowledged the party’s tendency of “ignoring facts that don’t support the argument and sometimes embracing the conspiracy theories that do.”

Democrats use verdict to hit back at Republican claims

Source icon
Sources:  
Axios, Semafor

House Democrats used the verdict as a “body blow” to Republicans’ efforts to paint the justice system as rigged against them, Axios wrote. “This verdict shows that no one is above the law,” said Vermont Rep. Becca Balint. It was a common refrain for Democrats who had the same response when Trump was convicted. President Biden also emphasized his respect for the rule of law, saying he would “accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.”

Verdict appears unlikely to affect presidential race

Source icon
Sources:  
ABC News, The Washington Post

Both Republican and Democrat operatives predict the verdict is unlikely to have a significant impact on the presidential election, with some pointing to the recent polls that show Trump’s conviction hasn’t substantially changed voters’ minds either. The verdict “does mute GOP claims that the Biden DOJ is weaponized against Trump and MAGA, but the election isn’t turning on that question,” one Republican strategist told ABC News. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake also noted that Hunter’s charges “have no real proximity” to the president, while Trump’s are directly connected to his campaign and presidency.

Semafor Logo
AD