In September, following the collapse of a summertime plea deal, Hunter Biden was indicted on three charges related to false statements in the October 2018 purchase of a firearm due to allegedly making a false and fictitious written statement about his drug use when purchasing the gun. The plea deal would have led to President Joe Biden's son pleading guilty to two misdemeanors for failing to pay federal tax while avoiding prosecution on the felony firearms charge.
Last month, Hunter Biden's legal team filed a motion requesting that the ex-president and his father's potential 2024 rival should be issued a subpoena for documents purported to prove political motivation in the younger Biden's case — an argument Trump has made countless times throughout his own legal battles.
The legal team also requested subpoenas for documents spanning seven years and involving former Attorney General William Barr, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.
On Monday, Special Counsel David Weiss of the Delaware District Court wrote in his 32-page legal rebuttal:
"Hunter Biden misunderstands the difference between pretrial arguments to dismiss an indictment and trial defenses," adding that "it is black-letter law that claims of vindictive and selective prosecution are not trial defenses and may only be brought and litigated pretrial.The documents requested by Hunter Biden's attorneys in relation to Trump and other ex-DOJ officials included:
"Not only does [the] defendant's motion fail to identify any actual evidence of bias, vindictiveness, or discriminatory intent on the Special Counsel's part, his arguments ignore an inconvenient truth: No charges were brought against [the] defendant during the prior administration when the subpoena recipients actually held office in the Executive Branch."
- All documents or records reflecting communications between the recipients "discussing any formal or informal investigation or prosecution of Hunter Biden."
- All documents or records reflecting communications about Hunter Biden between the recipients and any other "government official or staff person."
- Any personal records, such as journals or notes, related to Hunter Biden.
- Any documents produced for the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol mentioning Hunter Biden.
Newsweek reached out to Hunter Biden's legal team via email for comment.
Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Newsweek that Weiss' ruling is "not surprising at all," considering these types of selective prosecution cases are very hard to prove, and judges rarely grant discovery on something like this.
"Practically speaking, almost everyone who decided to charge Hunter Biden comes from the Biden administration. Weiss was appointed by Trump but maintained by the Biden administration."He compared it to an individual being pulled over for speeding and telling a police officer that others were also speeding. It's not a legal defense, Rahmani said, though Hunter Biden's lawyers are exhausting different maneuvers on behalf of their client.
"It's a diversion deal and more strategy and tactics than anything that has a chance of success. The motion was essentially saying the prosecution is being improper, and it forces the prosecution to reply. It does put the prosecution on its heels a little bit because you're accusing them of doing something improper or unethical."Weiss, a Trump-appointed judge, added that each Hunter Biden-related gun charge will be brought during the current administration in which his father is president. Attorney General Merrick Garland personally appointed Weiss as special counsel earlier this year.
Weiss also wrote:
"Hunter Biden has not shown, nor can he, how external statements by political opponents of President Biden improperly pressured him, his Attorney General, or the Special Counsel to pursue charges against the President's son.Patricia Crouse, a political science practitioner in residence at the University of New Haven, told Newsweek that defense teams for both Trump and Hunter Biden are employing a "circular argument" based on political motivations.
"[Hunter Biden's] allegations and subpoena requests focus on likely inadmissible, far-reaching, and non-specific categories of documents concerning the actions and motives of individuals who did not make the relevant prosecutorial decision in his case. The requests: untenable."
"No matter who ended up in the White House in 2020, the Hunter Biden case was going to be a continuing priority for the Republican Party and any holdovers from the Trump administration still in the DOJ. If Weiss believes the evidence doesn't exist in those documents, there seems like there would be no harm in releasing them to Hunter Biden and his attorneys."Whether this ongoing legal situation for Hunter Biden and comparing it to Trump's legal battles will impact next year's election remains to be seen, though Crouse points out that Joe Biden has maintained his distance from it all:
"I think by doing that, [the president] has avoided having this issue drag him down politically. Past polls have shown that the charges against Hunter are having little impact on Joe Biden's presidential bid. Of course, the election is still a year away, and anything can happen between now and then. But I think for now, the American people are able to separate the two."