Hunter Biden's Guilty Verdict | Crooked Media
Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets
June 11, 2024
What A Day
Hunter Biden's Guilty Verdict

In This Episode

  • A Delaware jury on Tuesday convicted Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, on three federal felony gun charges. The verdict makes Biden the first member of a sitting president’s immediate family to be convicted of a crime. A sentencing date hasn’t been set yet, but the president’s son is facing up to 25 years in prison. Alex Thompson, national political correspondent for Axios, was in the courtroom during the trial. He breaks down the verdict and the reactions in Washington.
  • And in headlines: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was back in the Middle East to put pressure on Hamas to formally agree to a ceasefire deal with Israel, embattled Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is in hot water again after a secret recording caught him agreeing with Christian conservative viewpoints, and a federal judge struck down Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care.
Show Notes:

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, June 12th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Juanita Tolliver And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The show where we don’t know how to feel about a New York judge allowing disgraced former representative George Santos to summer in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains as he awaits trial for a slew of criminal charges. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Doesn’t the judge know that there is no good that can come from allowing George Santos to have a hot girl summer? 

 

Juanita Tolliver Joanne the scammer is on the loose, y’all. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Kitara Ravache is on the loose. [music break] On today’s show, Justice Samuel Alito is caught on tape agreeing with Christian conservative viewpoints. Big shocker there. Plus, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will testify before Congress in July about Trump’s hush money trial. 

 

Juanita Tolliver But first, a Delaware jury on Tuesday convicted Hunter Biden on three federal felony gun charges. The verdict makes Biden the first member of a sitting president’s immediate family to be convicted of a crime. A sentencing date hasn’t been set yet, but the president’s son is facing substantial prison time, up to 25 years. Hunter Biden did not speak to reporters after the decision, but he did release a statement saying he was more grateful for the support of his family than disappointed in the verdict. He also said, quote, “recovery is possible by the grace of God and I am blessed to experience that gift one day at a time.” Alluding to his lifelong struggle with addiction that was at the heart of his gun case. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So can you remind us of some of the details of this case? What exactly was President Biden’s son Hunter, found guilty of doing here? 

 

Juanita Tolliver Biden was convicted of lying about his drug use on an application to buy a gun back in October 2018, and then illegally possessing that gun while he was actively addicted to illegal drugs. Around the time in question, he was in the throes of his addiction to crack cocaine. He wrote about it in a 2021 memoir, and excerpts from the audiobook were even used as evidence against him during the trial. It really showed a level of inhumane treatment towards someone who was struggling with addiction issues honestly. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Not good. Republicans have, you know, spent the last few years really just beating up on Hunter Biden and trying to use that, by extension, to beat up on President Joe Biden, his father. What did they have to say about all of this? 

 

Juanita Tolliver There were actually kind of muted about the whole thing. Florida congressman and all around troll Matt Gaetz tweeted the verdict was, quote, “kind of dumb.” 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. Okay. That’s not what I would have expected from like the most craven people in the world. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But maybe they decided to look in the mirror for a moment. 

 

Juanita Tolliver House speaker Mike Johnson told CNN the verdict did nothing to disprove their baseless claims that the Justice Department is rigged against former President Donald Trump, also now a convicted felon. 

 

[clip of House Speaker Mike Johnson] Every case is is different. And clearly the evidence was overwhelming here. I don’t think that’s the case in in the Trump trials. And all the charges that have been brought against him have been obviously brought for political purposes. Hunter Biden is a separate instance. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Uh. I hope he stretched before that reach, because that was wild. And I guess that’s a preview of how Republicans are going to continue to contort themselves about this. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sure he strained something. 

 

Juanita Tolliver And the head of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer, said in a statement the Biden verdict was a step toward accountability, but then kept banging the proverbial gong about House Republicans ongoing impeachment investigation into the president, which has so far turned up nothing. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right and there is going to keep turning up nothing. So I don’t know how much longer they want to keep spinning their wheels. 

 

Juanita Tolliver On the Democratic side, the response was also muted. New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN that the responses show the stark difference between the parties. 

 

[clip of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] Democrats are willing to accept when our justice system works as functioned and as designed, we’re not here contesting the results. We’re not here trying to defund the FBI or the Department of Justice because we don’t like the outcome of a given trial. 

 

Juanita Tolliver For more on Hunter Biden’s trial and the reaction to the verdict, I spoke with Alex Thompson. He’s a national political correspondent for Axios, and he was in the courtroom during the trial. I started by asking him about the reaction inside the courtroom when the verdict was read. 

 

Alex Thompson: You know, it was really interesting. So in part because the jury deliberated for such a short amount of time, it was only really three hours in total across two days that a lot of Hunter Biden’s family, who had been in town, including the first lady, didn’t even make it in for the verdict. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Oh, wow. 

 

Alex Thompson: Yeah. So essentially, you had his wife and his uncle, and there were a few family friends because they just didn’t anticipate that it would be so soon. In terms of Hunter, you know, he has usually a looseness to him, even in bad situations. But as it was being read, you know, it could have been a portrait. He didn’t move at all. It was he was perfectly still. And then he did sort of like three very small nods then stood up, hugged his lawyers, kissed his wife and walked out, you know, was very much okay, what’s next sort of vibe. 

 

Juanita Tolliver What does the verdict mean practically for Hunter Biden, given the crimes, he could be facing up to 25 years in prison. Is it likely that he’ll receive that sentence? 

 

Alex Thompson: No. Um. He’s a first time offender. It’s very unlikely. There’s even a possibility there’s no jail time or probation. The bigger consequence from this is about the next trial. There’s a tax trial that begins in Los Angeles on September 5th. And if he is found guilty on that, then now he has a criminal record. And that could actually create more consequences for him from a prison point of view. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Now, sticking to this first verdict, President Biden said in a statement after the verdict Tuesday that he will, quote, “accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process.” He’s also said previously that he would not pardon his son. What do we know about how the president has been privately processing and handling this trial? And now the verdict? 

 

Alex Thompson: I mean, this weighs on the president really heavily, and in part because I think the president feels guilty for this happening to Hunter at all. I mean, like, let’s face the facts, like Hunter, all the events that happened in this trial or in 2018, it is a crime that’s very rarely prosecuted. Um. And if Joe Biden had not run for president and had not won the presidency, then it’s very unlikely that this would have been charged. Now, the evidence probably shows that Hunter did break the law, but I think Joe Biden rightly feels that Hunter would not be facing this and is being put under an incredible amount of stress at a moment when he is finally sober. I think that weighs on him. I think Joe Biden is always scared of Hunter relapsing, and it also makes him sad. 

 

Juanita Tolliver And I think that was captured in the president’s statement when he said, I’m the president, but I’m also a dad, right? Like that’s where that through line um resonated. But how does Biden’s response here compare to the response that Trump and the Republican Party had when he was convicted last month? 

 

Alex Thompson: I mean, they’re very different, you know, and part of the difference is the fact that we’re talking about the president’s son versus an actual candidate. Trump, obviously, you know, railed against the system, tried to make himself into a martyr for his cause, and basically said that the whole thing was junk. You know, in this case, obviously, Joe Biden has said that he’s respecting the rule of law, that, you know, he won’t pardon Hunter and that this is, you know, an important part of the system. And, you know, in truth, you know, when Hunter was in the spirals of his crack cocaine addiction from 2015 to 2019, he did a lot of bad things. 

 

Juanita Tolliver And speaking of that context, because being president means attacks from the opposing party. And so far, Republicans have been downplaying this verdict and the president’s response to it. And instead, they’re continuing to point to former President Donald Trump’s conviction as proof that the Justice Department is corrupt. The Trump campaign even called the Biden verdict a distraction. To what extent does the Biden verdict dent Republicans arguments about fairness in the courts? 

 

Alex Thompson: I find this Republican response so interesting, in part because it’s the complete opposite of what you saw just four years ago. I mean, if you remember four years ago, Trump basically every rally couldn’t talk about Hunter enough. But I think the thing that Trump’s pollsters have probably told him, I don’t know for sure, but you also see this in the public polling. You know, I don’t think that voters really are going to make up their vote based on what Hunter Biden did or didn’t do. And as a result, you see them trying to pivot away from focusing on Hunter in the same way they did before. I also think to your point, there’s some, you know, MAGA people that are being like, oh, well, they only attacked Hunter on the gun thing so they could get away with the bigger conspiracy. But those are sort of like outside agitator voices or, you know, like staffer level voices. And that’s why I’ve always felt the most interesting part about this case is not about like the horse race politics of it all. It’s really about the family drama. And, you know, it’s simultaneously sort of a family tragedy and a love story. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Let’s talk about that, because there was a lot of embarrassing information that came out through in this trial. You mentioned all of the evidence they had that included the relationship Hunter started with his sister-in-law, Hallie, um after her husband and Hunter’s brother Beau passed away. How they smoked crack cocaine together, how she threw away the gun at the center of these crimes in a grocery store trash can when she found it, like now, President Biden wasn’t implicated in any of this. But what kind of political damage could this do to him as he faces a tough bid for reelection? 

 

Alex Thompson: You know, I feel like the biggest political toll is just going to be on his temperament, really, because the thing about Joe Biden and the Biden family is they’re so close knit. And and the prosecution was very good at sort of extracting embarrassing information on the family out into the open. You mentioned the fact that he introduced Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow, to crack cocaine. The fact that Hunter was smoking crack cocaine in the home where there were two young children, you know, Beau and Haley’s kids. They talked about, you know, Hunter Biden dating a 24 year old stripper who’s around the same age of his oldest daughter and giving her money to buy gifts and clothes for his daughters. You know, there was lots of, like, really embarrassing family, dirty laundry. And anytime Hunter has had a significant setback in his legal stuff, you see Joe Biden’s schedule get lighter. And I think that’s the biggest like political consequence is how much mental energy and mental space is this taking up? 

 

Juanita Tolliver Hunter’s defense team has hinted that they may appeal the verdict on Second Amendment grounds. They tried to make that very argument during pretrial motions. But do they have a case here for appeal? 

 

Alex Thompson: They really do. In fact, even before they get to appeal, there is actually a case already working its way through the courts and might be heard by the Supreme Court as soon as next year. A very similar case, which basically argues that this question about are you an unlawful user of substances is inherently unconstitutional. So if you read the actual language of the text, it basically says, if you are a unlawful user, not just crack cocaine but marijuana, can you own a gun? And basically there’s an argument the Second Amendment says, well, you can be a user of marijuana and still own a gun. So there are significant constitutional questions. You know, ironically, the sort of conservative aspect of the Supreme Court could end up helping get Hunter out of this, this case. 

 

Juanita Tolliver I’m curious to know what else should we keep an eye out for as this progresses? Not only the potential appeal in this case, but also the federal trial in September. What else should we be looking for? 

 

Alex Thompson: You know, I think there are a few different things. The September trial is going to be longer and messier because it has to do with his taxes. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Wait, we just went through all of the family drama. 

 

Alex Thompson: I know. 

 

Juanita Tolliver And it’s going to be messier than that?

 

Alex Thompson: Yes, because when you’re dealing with someone’s taxes, you’re dealing with everything they spent money on. In Hunter’s case, for instance, in the indictment and also subsequently in some of the materials they’ve said that the government intends to produce. You have tax forms and financial forms from Lundon Roberts, who you may remember is uh the woman that Hunter allegedly had a relationship with who had his child. And this trial begins in September, the most critical period of the election. 

 

Juanita Tolliver That was my conversation with Alex Thompson, national political correspondent with Axios. And we’ll be sure to keep following this story and the potential appeal from Hunter Biden’s legal team. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is the latest. For now. We’ll get to some headlines in just a moment, but if you like our show, please make sure to subscribe and to share it with your friends. We’ll be right back after some ads. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli leaders on his eighth visit to the Middle East since October 7th. His goal this time is to put pressure on Hamas to formally agree to a cease fire deal with Israel. As for the actual cease fire proposal that the US has put forth, Egypt and Qatar confirmed on Tuesday that they received a response from Hamas. The Palestinian militant group reportedly gave amendments to the proposal, while Israel called the group’s response a rejection. And in other news regarding Hamas, reporting from The Wall Street Journal shows that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said in messages to Hamas officials that civilian death tolls could work to the group’s benefit. Other messages obtained by the Journal show Sinwar calling civilian deaths, quote, “necessary sacrifices” really just awful. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Truly. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Sinwar’s location is currently unknown, but he is assumed to be hiding out somewhere in the tunnels below the Gaza Strip. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Embattled Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann, are in hot water again after new secret recordings emerged on Monday detailing their conservative stance on multiple political issues. The tapes were leaked to Rolling Stone by liberal documentarian Lauren Windsor. Windsor secretly recorded herself when she spoke to the couple last week at the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner. She pretended to be a religious conservative when she spoke to them. Take a listen to her speaking with Justice Alito. 

 

[clip of Lauren Windsor] People in this country who believe in God have got to keep fighting for that, to return our country to a place of godliness. 

 

[clip of Justice Samuel Alito] Oh I agree with you. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, God. 

 

[clip of Justice Samuel Alito] I agree with you.

 

Juanita Tolliver Okay. Justice Alito recently faced backlash for flying two right wing flags outside of his homes. Here’s Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann seemingly joking about the controversy to Windsor. 

 

[clip of Martha-Ann Alito] I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag because I have to look across the lagoon at the pride flag for the next month. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Oh, no. Pride month. The ultimate bogey man.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That’s a wild to me that that is something she would just say to a stranger. Crazy. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts can also be heard on the recording, disagreeing with Windsor when she asserts that the US is a Christian nation. 

 

[clip of Chief Justice John Roberts] Yeah, I don’t know that we live in a Christian nation. I know a lot of Jewish and Muslim friends who would say, maybe not, uh and it’s not our job to do that. It’s our job to decide the the cases as best we can. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Out of those three clips. Only one person. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: One for three. 

 

Juanita Tolliver Understood the description of the lifelong commitment and seat that he occupies. It’s so interesting, but it’s also a reminder of why accountability measures need to be in place to hold these justices accountable. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the prosecutor for Donald Trump’s hush money case is set to testify before Congress for a public hearing on July 12th. And yes, that is just one day after Trump’s scheduled sentencing. He will speak before the House Judiciary Committee that is led by surprise, surprise, Republican Representative Jim Jordan. Jordan called for Bragg and his fellow prosecutor, Matthew Colangelo, to testify just one day after the hush money verdict was released and Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts. Bragg’s office confirmed the July 12th date and in a statement they said, quote, “it undermines the rule of law to spread dangerous misinformation, baseless claims and conspiracy theories following the jury’s return of a full count felony conviction in people v Trump.” 

 

Juanita Tolliver Yeah, I feel like this just sets the tone of what to expect when D.A. Bragg appears before the Judiciary Committee, because he’s going to read them for filth. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Get your popcorn ready, people. It is going to be a good one. 

 

Juanita Tolliver And finally, some rare good news on the anti-trans legislation front. A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Florida’s ban on gender affirming care, declaring the law unconstitutional. The ban, which was passed by the state’s GOP led legislature last summer, banned trans youth from receiving hormone therapy, puberty blockers or transition related surgeries and made it harder for trans adults to pursue gender affirming care. Three families sued the state last June, and it was temporarily blocked from taking effect. Tuesday’s ruling means that the law cannot be enforced, and the judge wrote in his opinion, quote, “gender identity is real” and that Florida cannot deny trans people quote “treatment” with medications routinely provided to others with the state’s full approval so long as the purpose is not to support the patient’s transgender identity. Oh my gosh, please. More judges write like this because that was glorious. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: We are starved. We are starved for this. So please, we need more. And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Congratulate Florida on their rare good news and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver And if you’re into reading and not just all of the deranged Christian nationalist things Samuel Alito says when he thinks no one’s watching like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

[spoken together] And stay out of the Poconos this summer. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No disrespect to the Poconos, all disrespect to George Santos. 

 

Juanita Tolliver 100%. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: You get the freedom to vacation whenever you please when you’re not a criminal, I guess. 

 

Juanita Tolliver No, Priyanka. He summers, he summers. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. That’s also another key part of that whole exchange. [music break] What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

[AD BREAK]