WASHINGTON — Hunter Biden’s federal gun indictment Thursday creates the potential for a trial that overlaps with his father’s reelection campaign.
Best case scenario? The charges are resolved quickly.
Worst case scenario? Hunter Biden is found guilty just before voters decide whether to give President Joe Biden a second term.
While the legal timeline is difficult to predict, Hunter Biden’s lawyer does not appear to be aiming for a quick resolution.
Typically, the trial date is set approximately 100 days after the indictment. Abbot Lowell has mentioned several ways in which he intends to fight the prosecution, making it unlikely that his client will assert his right to a speedy trial.
Lowell claims the charges are dismissed under a failed plea deal in July.
It also claims that the charges – based on Biden’s alleged possession of a revolver despite restrictions against narcotics addicts and firearms owners – are unconstitutional. And Lowell said there is evidence, which he declined to identify, that will exonerate Hunter Biden “when and if there is a trial.”
“On the facts, we think we will have a defense,” Lowell said Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Given the 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 happen in the fall, although extending it beyond the November election could be challenging.
“I don’t know if he will make it through the general election,” Rahmani said. “Either you want to solve it now or push it further.”
But William Bike, a communications expert and author of a practical guide titled “Winning Political Campaigns,” doubts that delaying the case beyond the election would help President Biden’s political future.
“Conservative and Republican media will continue to pursue every legal motion and court ruling in the meantime to keep this issue before the public,” he said.
Bike said the federal charges against Hunter Biden are definitely a problem for his father and go hand in hand with the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Republicans. Even if the investigation fails, it could still generate enough headlines, along with developments in Hunter Biden’s criminal case, to give the impression to voters that where there’s smoke, there must be fire.
“And so Biden’s lead over (Donald) Trump on the same question of honesty goes up in smoke,” he said.
It is Trump, however, who will spend a lot of time in a courtroom. The former president, favored for the Republican nomination, will face six criminal and civil trials over the next year. The first, a civil trial in New York against Trump’s company, could begin next month.
On January 15, the same day as the Iowa caucuses, Trump is due in court to determine damages in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit.
The trial of Trump, accused of conspiring to steal the 2020 election, is tentatively scheduled to begin in March.
Republicans, including those vying with Trump for the nomination, have denounced the allegations against him, accusing Democrats of “weaponising” the Justice Department. They had also attacked the defunct plea deal between Hunter Biden and federal prosecutors as a sweetheart deal.
Now that the Justice Department has filed charges against Hunter Biden that could land him in prison, that diminishes the gun argument and eliminates charges 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 would obviously prefer not to deal with his son’s indictment, Belt added, voters have traditionally been able to distinguish a candidate’s actions from those of friends and family.
“The number one issue going into the election is going to be the issue that is going to be in every election,” he said, “and that is the economy.”
Contribution: Bart Jansen.
The accusations Hunter Biden indicted on federal gun charges for allegedly lying about drug addiction
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden’s trial timeline could clash with father’s 2024 campaign