WASHINGTON – Hunter Biden indictment on federal weapons charges Thursday raises the possibility of a trial overlapping with his father’s re-election campaign.
In the best case? Charges are resolved quickly.
Worst of cases? Hunter Biden is found guilty shortly before voters decide whether to grant President Joe Biden a second term.
While the legal timeline is difficult to predict, Hunter Biden’s lawyer does not appear to aim for a quick resolution.
Typically, the trial date is set about 100 days after the indictment is filed. Abbe Lowell has mentioned several ways he plans to fight the prosecution, making it unlikely his client will assert her right to a speedy trial.
Lowell argues the charges are barred under a plea deal that collapsed in July.
He also claims that the charges, based on Biden allegedly possessing a revolver despite restrictions against people addicted to narcotics possessing firearms, are unconstitutional. And Lowell said there is evidence, which he declined to identify, that will exonerate Hunter Biden “when there is a trial.”
“Based on the facts, we believe we will have a defense,” Lowell said Friday. ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Given pretrial motions expected to be filed, the case may not be resolved until next spring or summer, said former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers. It could last into the fall, although extending it beyond the November election could be a challenge.
“I don’t know if we can get through the general elections,” Rahmani said. “Either you want to solve it now or leave it behind.”
But William Bike, a communications expert and author of a practical guide called “Winning Political Campaigns,” doubts that delaying the case beyond the election will help President Biden’s political future.
“Conservative media and Republicans will continue to file all legal motions and court rulings in that interim time to keep the issue in front of the public,” he said.
Bike said the federal charges against Hunter Biden are definitely an issue for his father and go hand in hand with the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Republicans. Even if that investigation fails, it could still generate enough headlines, along with developments in Hunter Biden’s criminal case, to give voters the impression that where there is smoke, there must be fire.
“And just like that, Biden’s advantage over (Donald) Trump on the issue of honesty disappears,” he said.
However, it is Trump who will spend a lot of time in court. The former president and front-runner for the Republican nomination faces six criminal and civil trials over the next year. The first, a civil trial in New York against Trump’s company, could start next month.
On January 15, the same day as the Iowa caucuses, Trump must appear in court to determine damages in The E. Jean Carroll Defamation Suit.
In March, Trump’s trial on federal charges of conspiracy to steal the 2020 election is tentatively scheduled to begin.
Republicans, including those competing with Trump for the nomination, have denounced the charges against him, accusing Democrats of “weaponizing the Justice Department.” They also attacked the defunct plea agreement between Hunter Biden and federal prosecutors as an amicable agreement.
Now that the Justice Department has brought charges against Hunter Biden that could land him in jail, that diminishes the gun argument and eliminates accusations of favoritism, said Todd Belt, professor and director of political management at George Washington University.
“In a strange way, it actually reflects much more positively on (President) Biden,” he said.
While the president obviously would have preferred not to address his son’s allegation, Belt added, voters have traditionally been able to separate a candidate’s actions from those of friends and family.
“The number one issue heading into the elections will be the issue that is in every election,” he said, “and that is the economy.”
Contributing: Bart Jansen.