Mark July 26 on your calendar. It’s the day Beltway journalists realized they can’t dismiss President Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s legal problems as a GOP chew toy.

Wednesday morning when he showed up at a federal court in Wilmington, Hunter Biden, 53, expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his taxes for 2017 and 2018. (He later paid the taxes due.) Prosecutors would recommend a sentence of probation, according to The Washington Post.

A side deal included a diversion agreement for a third charge, unlawful possession of a firearm, a felony that can result in a sentence of 10 years.

But then the deal blew up.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika decided not to rubber-stamp the deal Biden thought his lawyers reached with the feds, as lawyers sparred over how much immunity the president’s son could expect in the future.

Biden attorney Chris Clark said in a statement that the federal investigation of his client was “resolved,” but U.S. Attorney David Weiss said that the investigation will continue.

On Fox News, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley marveled that the judge “asked one question and the whole darn thing fell apart.”

With no deal on the table, Biden pleaded not guilty.

Multiple news reports introduce Noreika as a “Trump-appointed judge,” which is true.
I don’t recall any references to the Biden-appointed Attorney General Merrick Garland even though his Department of Justice backed the no-jail deal.

After weeks of dismissing the seriousness of the case against Hunter Biden as hyper-partisan, the news media bore witness to the serious and historic specter of a president’s son facing criminal charges in federal court.

In one day, the Washington press corps’ attention was yanked from hyperventilating about a potential impeachment proceeding in the House to the story readers don’t need to be told — that the president’s son had flouted the law with the expectation he wouldn’t pay too steep a price.

In the White House press briefing room Wednesday, reporters peppered Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre with questions about Hunter Biden’s day in court.

In a pointed exchange, CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang noted that Biden spent most of his career working on gun laws and reforms, then asked if he believed someone charged with possessing a firearm illegally “should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“I think I know where this question is going,” KJP responded before she referred Jiang to the Department of Justice — yes, that Department of Justice run by the Biden-appointed Garland.

I feel for Democrats who thought the former vice president would restore the public’s respect for government after former President Donald Trump’s checkered single term. They’re about to find out how it felt to be political operatives trying to hold up an administration that doesn’t deserve it.

Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at [email protected].

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