Will collapse of Hunter Biden plea deal help RFK Jr. in his longshot primary bid against President Biden?
The potential collapse of Hunter Biden’s plea deal with prosecutors during a contentious court hearing in federal court in Delaware on Wednesday will likely provide Republicans with more ammunition as they aim to link President Biden to his son’s high-profile legal difficulties.
But looking ahead to the president’s 2024 re-election campaign, while Democratic strategists scoff at the notion that the younger Biden’s scandals could weaken his father’s bid for re-nomination and potentially help primary challenger Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a veteran political analyst told Fox News that ‘this is not a good situation for a man who’s weak in the polls and is running for re-election.’
Hunter Biden was expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax, as part of plea deal with federal prosecutors to avoid jail time on a felony gun charge. The younger Bien owned a handgun in 2018 – during a period where he’s admitted he was regularly using cocaine. That violates federal law, which prohibits drug users from possessing firearms.
But after the judge in the case refused to accept the plea agreement – due to questions of the constitutionality of the deal – Hunter Biden pleaded ‘not guilty’ as federal prosecutors confirmed the president’s son is still under federal investigation.
Wednesday’s legal fireworks come after Internal Revenue Service (IRS) whistleblower testimony revealed allegations of Department of Justice misconduct throughout the years long investigation into the president’s son, which began during former President Donald Trump’s administration.
Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealing with Ukraine when his father was serving as vice president in the Obama administration are also in the spotlight. A separate whistleblower has alleged that the FBI and the Justice Department are in possession of an unverified document that claims a criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.
And this week House Speaker Kevin McCarthy floated that the Republican majority in the chamber may consider an impeachment inquiry into the president over the unproven claims of financial misconduct.
‘There’s a lot of questions and we need some answers,’ Republican presidential candidate and former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told Fox News Digital on Wednesday.
Haley argued that ‘now there’s enough questions and enough whistleblowers to say ‘OK, should there be a congressional inquiry into looking into this and I think that’s what Speaker McCarthy’s talking about and if he decides to go through the inquiry, it would totally be warranted.’
The White House has pushed back against Republicans, criticizing what it says were ‘unfounded, unproven, politically motivated attacks against the president and his family’ made ‘without offering evidence for their claims or evidence of decisions influenced by anything other than U.S. interests.’
Hunter Biden’s legal saga and the mounting inquiries come as the battle for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination is heating up, and as Biden faces longshot primary challenges from Kennedy – the environmental lawyer and high-profile vaccine critic, and scion of arguably the nation’s most famous family political dynasty – and best-selling author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, who’s making her second straight White House run.
Fox News reached out to Kennedy’s campaign for reaction to Wednesday’s legal developments but didn’t receive a response by the time this story was published.
But Kennedy, in a Fox News Channel interview this past weekend, said he backs McCarthy’s potential probe into the Bidens.
‘The issues that are now coming up are worrying enough that we really need a real investigation of what happened,’ Kennedy told host Maria Bartiromo on Fox News’ ‘Sunday Morning Futures.’
‘I mean, these revelations …where you have Burisma, which is this notoriously corrupt company, that paid out apparently $10 million to Hunter and his dad, if that’s true, then it is really troubling….So I think … it needs to be investigated,’ Kennedy said.
Whether the controversy surrounding the Bidens will boost Kennedy’s bid against Biden is under debate in New Hampshire, which will likely be ground zero for attempts by Kennedy and Williamson to try and upend the president’s renomination.
Pointing to the president’s approval ratings – which have been underwater for nearly two years – and polls suggesting Democrats are anything but enthused with the 80-year-old Biden seeking a second four-year term in the White House, New Hampshire Institute of Politics executive director Neil Levesque told Fox News that ‘there is a lot of chatter right now and nervous Democrats concerned about Biden running anyway, and the polls indicate that.’
‘So if you add on any legal difficulties that his son might have that also tarnish the president’s image, it’s not good for him. This is not a good situation for a man who’s weak in the polls and is running for re-election,’ Levesque argued.
And he said that ‘every week that goes by where Hunter Biden has more legal troubles it creates a precarious position’ for the president.
But veteran political scientist Dante Scala of the University of New Hampshire disagreed, emphasizing that ‘until Democrats are confronted with incredibly solid evidence that the father himself has some wrongdoing in all this, their default is to confine the sins of Hunter Biden to Hunter Biden.’
‘Until something emerges that clearly shows that the president did something wrong here, I think Democratic primary voters shrug. Especially given the alternatives. The alternative in no way is Robert F. Kennedy or Marianne Williamson,’ Scala argued.
Voicing what many Democratic strategists are saying in a party that appears united behind the president, New England based Democratic consultant Joe Caiazzo told Fox News that ‘the reason why the Republicans are going after the president on Hunter Biden is because they cannot attack him on his record of governing because he’s been a success.’
‘I think Democratic primary voters are focused on making sure that we win back the House and keep control of the Senate and keep President Biden in the White House in 2024,’ added Caiazzo, a veteran of multiple Democratic presidential campaigns.
The behavior of some controversial Republicans in Congress may also be energizing Democrats to support Biden.
Pointing to conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who is facing plenty of criticism for prominently displaying explicit photos of Hunter Biden at recent House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing, a progressive activist in New Hampshire said when it comes to Democratic primary voters, ‘even if there was something on Biden, it’s lost in all the nonsense and false accusations.’
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Aubrie Spady contributed to this report