GOP Presidential Candidates Weigh In on Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal

GOP Presidential Candidates Weigh In on Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks in Greensboro, N.C., on June 9, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As news spread on June 20 of Hunter Biden’s plea bargain with federal prosecutors, expressions of anger and frustration with the nation’s “broken” justice system were common among the Republican presidential primary field—or at least among those contenders who said anything at all.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Tuesday that the first son will plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of willfully failing to pay income taxes and enter a pretrial diversion agreement to potentially avoid conviction on a third felony firearm offense.

Responding to the news via Truth Social, former President Donald Trump wrote: “Wow! The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN!”

“People are going wild over the Hunter Biden Scam with the DOJ!” the leading Republican candidate said in another post.

The news was, in fact, met with contempt from several GOP presidential contenders, including Trump’s closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who derided the plea bargain as a “sweetheart deal.”

“Looks like Hunter received a sweetheart deal and is not facing any charges on the massive corruption allegations,” DeSantis wrote in a Twitter post. “If Hunter was not connected to the elite DC class he would have been put in jail a long time ago.”

Likewise, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott  said the deal was a “slap on the wrist with kid gloves” from a Justice Department that “throws the kitchen sink at political opponents.”

Political talk radio host Larry Elder said Biden’s lack of jail time was just “another example of our two-tiered, partisan justice system.”

Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also doubted the fairness of the American justice system, telling The Epoch Times in an email that the deal “only raises further questions about Hunter Biden’s crimes and the double standard of justice in our federal government.”

“There is clearly a lot more the Biden family has to answer for,” she added.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy agreed, calling the deal a “joke” meant to distract from ongoing investigations into allegations of bribery against President Joe Biden.

“The real target is the audio tapes of the alleged bribe for Hunter & Joe Biden from the Ukrainian executive of oligarch-owned Burisma. And the hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer funds kicked back to Ukraine to make good on the favor. Don’t buy the deflection, it’s just a smokescreen,” Ramaswamy wrote in a tweet.

In that same vein, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told The Epoch Times: “The resolution in this case once again raises more questions than answers. Being an addict is not an excuse for lining your pockets with cash from our country’s adversaries by using your father’s name and connections. The American people deserve to know exactly who was paying Hunter et al.; why they were paying him and his family, and exactly what was used to induce these payments. We need answers!”

Different Takes

The White House’s response to the news on Tuesday was brief, with spokesperson Ian Sams telling The Epoch Times: “The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment.”

But while most of the Republican candidates who released statements on the matter expressed disgust with the outcome of U.S. Attorney David Weiss’s investigation, there were others in the race who had a different reaction.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, for example, was measured in his response, holding that Hunter Biden’s admission of guilt was an “important step” but that there was “more work to be done.”

“It is important for our country to have the whistleblower allegations answered and the U.S. Attorney and the Department of Justice should be transparent in stating clearly the status of the investigation; the reason for a five-year delay in reaching today’s result; and how the investigation will continue and who is leading it,” he said in a statement.

“If David Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney, has concluded the investigation, then the obvious question is whether a special prosecutor is needed to investigate the whistleblower allegations. There is a legitimate public interest in making sure all allegations are investigated and dealt with under the law.”

According to Weiss’s press statement, the investigation is ongoing.

Former Rhode Island Gov. Steve Laffey, on the other hand, took a completely different tack from his fellow Republicans. Rather than taking aim at Biden or the Justice Department, Laffey set his sights squarely on Trump.

“After five years of investigation, the Hunter Biden case is finally coming to an end,” he said in a statement. “My Republican rivals have chosen to hide behind this case, to avoid talking about the real problem: Donald Trump and his stolen classified documents. Now, President Biden’s son will be pleading guilty to federal charges. I implore the former president to consider this path. Donald, it’s time to plead guilty. But we all know a narcissist never will.”

On June 13, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 felony charges related to his storage of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. His trial date has been set for Aug. 14.

“I applaud U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon for setting a quick trial date for the former president,” Laffey said in a separate statement. “The sooner the trial begins, the sooner Donald Trump is locked up and off the campaign [trail].”

The Sound of Silence

Noticeably absent from the conversation Tuesday were former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, two Republican presidential contenders who used to be aligned with Trump.

As of press time, neither candidate had responded to The Epoch Times’s requests for comment.

Both Pence and Christie are relatively new to the presidential race, having declared their respective candidacies early this month. Since doing so, they have both been openly critical of the 45th president, holding that new leadership is needed in the Republican Party.

It remains unclear whether that shared sentiment played a role in the candidates’ silence on Tuesday.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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