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Republicans echo Trump in response to Hunter Biden conviction

PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans responded to Hunter Biden’s conviction on federal gun charges Tuesday with some version of, “That’s it?”

Republicans loyal to Donald Trump largely echoed the former president’s claim that the Justice Department has treated President Joe Biden’s son with kid gloves while zealously prosecuting Trump. Using the attention given to Hunter Biden’s conviction for charges related to buying a gun while addicted to drugs, they pressed unsubstantiated or debunked allegations that Joe Biden — while vice president — acted to advance his family members’ foreign business interests.

“Remember this was Joe Biden’s corrupt DOJ that tried to negotiate outside immunity unrelated to this case,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican and a contender to be Trump’s vice presidential running mate. “Today is the first step in delivering accountability for the Biden Crime Family.”

In a deal with prosecutors last year, Hunter Biden was supposed to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax offenses and avoid prosecution in the gun case if he stayed out of trouble for two years. But the deal fell apart after the judge, who was nominated by Trump, questioned unusual aspects of the proposed agreement, and the lawyers could not resolve the matter.

J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican and another vice presidential contender, shared a post by Ohio Republican Senate candidate Bernie Moreno saying the gun charges were meant to “insulate and protect” the president.

Trump’s campaign issued a statement calling the verdict “nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family.”

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said the guilty verdict was “appropriate” and doesn’t undercut his own criticism of a two-tiered system of justice for Trump and the Bidens.

“Every case is different,” Johnson said. “And clearly the evidence was overwhelming here. I don’t think that’s the case in the Trump trial, and all the charges that have been brought against him have been obviously brought for political purposes. Hunter Biden is a separate incident.”

The charges against Hunter Biden stem from a dark period in his life, during which he acknowledges a spiraling descent following the death of his brother, Beau Biden, to cancer in 2015. Jurors found him guilty of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer when he bought a revolver in 2018, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

He still faces a trial in September in California on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes, and congressional Republicans have signaled they will keep going after him in their stalled impeachment effort into the president. The president has not been accused or charged with any wrongdoing by prosecutors investigating his son.

Hunter Biden’s conviction came weeks after a New York jury found Trump guilty of 34 counts related to a hush money payment to a porn actor during the 2016 campaign. Trump falsely claims the verdict was “rigged.” Biden said he accepted his son’s verdict.

Many in Trump’s Republican Party are staunchly against gun control and some of his supporters have questioned whether Hunter Biden should have been tried on the gun charges. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and high-profile Trump supporter, posted on X, “The Hunter Biden gun conviction is kinda dumb.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, told reporters at the Capitol that the gun charge was a ” waste of time,” though he said other accusations related to Hunter Biden’s taxes were “serious.”

“I just think he’s being punished,” Graham said, adding the average person would be “put in drug diversion or something.”

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, made similar comments.

“Hunter might deserve to be in jail for something, but purchasing a gun is not it,” Massie posted on X. “There are millions of marijuana users who own guns in this country, and none of them should be in jail for purchasing or possessing a firearm against current laws.”


Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Steven Groves, Farnoush Amiri contributed.

Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press