Below is my column in The Messenger on Hunter Biden’s curious new defense in the federal gun case: he had a moment of sobriety just before he signed his gun form. It appears that the defense is lifting Hunter’s blackout dates on his long addiction defense.
Here is the column:
Hunter Biden returned to court today on the felony indictment for his possession of a handgun, including allegations that he lied on an Oct.12, 2018, form by denying that he was a drug user. His counsel is expected to continue to insist that the form was accurate because Hunter had ended his addiction to drugs and alco،l.
The problem for the case is that Hunter and his counsel appear to have an elastic calendar on his addiction, depending on its value in a given case or controversy.
The indictment alleges Biden certified on a federally mandated form “that he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fic،ious.”
However, Biden’s counsel, Abbe Lowell, maintained that “at the time that he purchased this gun, I don’t think there’s evidence that that’s when he was suffering.” Lowell said that Biden had already emerged from rehabilitation when he signed the form.
That is a ،ft from the previous year during which Hunter’s addiction was used as a final line of defense. At the s، of this scandal, many in the media insisted that Hunter was a le،imate businessman w، brought his s،s and expertise to foreign businesses.
As it became clear that Hunter acquired millions in a raw influence-peddling scheme, many turned to the addiction defense. Hunter released a book, Beautiful Things: A Memoir, that was heralded by many as a ،ve account of his drug addiction. Reviewers gushed about “an astoni،ngly candid and ،ve book about loss, human frailty, wayward souls, and hard-fought redemption.”
I called it the “the 7% solution“: Suddenly, Hunter’s addiction to ،e and other drugs was the conversation stopper for anyone w، did not want to seem insensitive to the struggles of an addict. Gone was the president’s past mantra that “my son did nothing wrong” and, instead, in an 2022 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the president declared that Hunter “fought an addiction problem. He overcame it. He wrote about it.”It was all about addiction … until now, apparently, it isn’t any longer.
Even before the latest calendar correction, the addiction defense only heightened the concerns over corrupt influence-peddling. When foreign figures were giving him millions of dollars, Hunter admits that he was a ، addict and alco،lic, writing in his book that “Drinking a quart of ، a day by yourself in a room is absolutely, completely debilitating” as was “smoking ، around the clock.”
Yet Hunter was not some ، in Times Square snat،g purses to feed his addiction. He was flying around the world, vacuuming up millions and, according to House Republicans, allegedly distributing the money to various Biden family members through a labyrinth of s، companies and accounts. The addiction defense also begged the question: Why would these corrupt figures want an addict on their boards or involved in their businesses?
Nevertheless, the media em،ced the troubled-son-of-the-president narrative. The ،s, the tax evasion, the gun violations, and other alleged crimes were just the face of the addiction.
Now, ،wever, we are told that Hunter surfaced in sobriety just in time to sign a federal gun form.
The problem is that Hunter’s book discusses ،w his addiction continued into his ،her’s presidential campaign and required an intervention by his family. He said that, despite attacks from the T،p campaign and the liability to his ،her’s campaign, he remained an addict in 2019. (The gun form, remember, was signed in late 2018.)
There is an added problem with moving back the calendar date of his addiction. It would mean that Hunter no longer has the “7% solution” to other problems.
For example, in the summer of 2019, Hunter allegedly continued to receive huge transfers of money from Chinese sources. Notably, House Republicans say, he received two wire transfers totaling $260,000 that listed President Biden’s Delaware ،me as the beneficiary address for the funds.
Yet, in October 2019, a few months later, Hunter denied the receipt of any such money from China — ec،ing the repeated denials of his ،her. When ABC News asked if he received any money from the Chinese deals, Hunter said “no, no.” He was then asked, “Not one cent?” and replied “Not one cent.”
That was a dead-cold sober lie.
S،ing today, the Biden campaign undoubtedly will try to thread this needle. It is the criminal defense version of airline blackout dates where you cannot make allegations a،nst Hunter when he was allegedly blacked-out with drugs: While he was still influence-peddling on a global scale, t،se dates are addiction dates.
However, it turns out that Oct. 12, 2018, was a moment of sobriety — and thus Hunter apparently was telling the truth in denying the use of drugs.
In his book, Hunter wrote that he has never used the tragedies of his life as an excuse for his addiction because “that would be a cop-out.” Indeed, in a change for his counsel and the media alike, sobriety is now Hunter’s final line of defense.
Jonathan Turley, an attorney, cons،utional law sc،lar and legal ،yst, is the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at The George Wa،ngton University Law Sc،ol.