02:13 GMT20 January 2021
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    After months of silence, the US Department of Justice and the FBI have doubled down on investigating Hunter Biden, the son of Donald Trump's presidential rival Joe Biden. US observers have discussed how the 2020 presidential campaign affected the probes and whether Hunter will be prosecuted if his father occupies the White House.

    Attorney General William Barr knew for months about inquiries into the business and financial dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, but kept it from the public view before the election, The Wall Street Journal reported on 10 December, citing an individual with knowledge of the matter.

    The revelation came a day after Hunter Biden admitted in an official statement that his tax affairs were being investigated by the US Attorney's Office in Delaware. According to the Associated Press, the probe was launched in 2018, a year before Joe Biden threw his hat into the ring of the 2020 presidential election. The Biden-Harris transition team shielded Hunter Biden in an accompanying statement, stating that Joe Biden "is deeply proud of his son". The news about potential federal inquiries into Hunter emerged in late October, when an unnamed Department of Justice official told the Sinclair Broadcast Group that the FBI was conducting a money laundering investigation into the ex-vice president's son and his associates.

    Why Did AG Barr Stay Silent?   

    If compared with the four-year Russiagate conspiracy mongering, "credible evidence that Joseph Biden used his position as vice president to help his son make millions of dollars in places like Ukraine and China under suspicious circumstances would have inevitably hurt the Biden-Harris campaign", says Dan Kovalik, a US lawyer, activist and author of "The Plot to Scapegoat Russia".

    "Barr probably did not release information regarding the Biden probe during the election because it might have seemed too partisan and self-serving for himself and Trump and thus easier for voters to dismiss it", alleges Martin Love, a political commentator and journalist from North Carolina.

    At the same time, Barr technically didn't do anything wrong by keeping the ongoing probes a secret, insists Robert J. Spitzer, distinguished service professor of political science at the State University of New York, College at Cortland.

    "Longstanding Justice Department policy says that investigations are not to be made public unless they produce indictments. That applies in particular to any investigations that might have electoral consequences", the professor explains.

    Kovalik admits that it's a mystery for him as to why the US attorney general dragged his feet about making the investigation public. He does not rule out that Barr "was not as loyal to Trump as many of us have assumed". 

    "Apparently Barr fooled everyone", suggests Pamela Geller, a political activist, commentator, and editor-in-chief of the Geller Report. "While appearing to be a supporter of President Trump's efforts to drain the swamp and clean out corruption from Washington, he turns out to have been an operative of the failed political and media establishment that has done everything it could to ensure a Biden victory. The elites are deeply threatened by Trump and determined to destroy him. This includes Barr".

    The New York Times and CNN earlier speculated that the US attorney general is "not happy with Trump" and may step down before 20 January 2021. Bloomberg, however, shredded the rumour citing a DOJ official as saying that Barr plans to remain in his post and won't step down early unless the president asks him to leave. Reports saying that William Barr hid the Hunter Biden probes for months could "infuriate" Donald Trump as the president is growing disenchanted with the attorney general who has long been viewed as his close ally, Business Insider presumed on 10 December.

    Hunter Biden, son of President-elect Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up as he stands on stage Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
    © AP Photo / Andrew Harnik
    Hunter Biden, son of President-elect Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up as he stands on stage Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.

    Will Hunter Be Prosecuted if His Father Occupies the Oval Office?

    Robert J. Spitzer doubts that the investigations could in some form hurt the Biden-Harris ticket: first, it's not Hunter Biden who is running for the presidency; and, second, the ex-vice president's son has not been indicted so far.

    It's anyone's guess whether Hunter Biden will be prosecuted at all should his father occupy the White House, notes Martin Love.

    "It's obvious this guy tried to capitalise on his family connections", he says. "He doesn't look very bright and there was money to be made in the Ukraine connection(s). He is yet another sad commentary on the lambent corruption that envelops Washington and anyone connected to power in the US".

    In September 2020, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) unveiled a GOP report about Hunter Biden's foreign dealings arguing that they may constitute a potential conflict of interests given that the businessman's gains increased substantially during his father's tenure as vice president. The document specifically discussed the younger Biden's role in the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, which he joined in 2014 despite zero experience in the energy field.

    ​However, the FBI refused to either confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigations concerning Hunter Biden, in response to a formal request from Republican Congressman Jim Jordan.

    Tony Bobulinski, former business associate of Hunter Biden, displays a cell phone while speaking to journalists ahead of a debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and U.S. President Donald Trump, at the JW Marriott in Nashville, Tennessee.
    TOM BRENNER
    Tony Bobulinski, former business associate of Hunter Biden, displays a cell phone while speaking to journalists ahead of a debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and U.S. President Donald Trump, at the JW Marriott in Nashville, Tennessee.

    'Laptop from Hell'

    On 14 October, the New York Post released email exchanges allegedly originating from Hunter Biden's laptop that he ostensibly left in a Delaware repair shop but never took back. The shop's owner reportedly handed the laptop to the FBI and later sent a hard disc copy to Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The emails indicated Hunter's questionable business dealings with Ukrainian and Chinese businessmen.

    Having analysed the content of the hard drive, Giuliani suggested Joe Biden had first-hand knowledge of his son's deals, something that was also confirmed by Hunter's former business associate Tony Bobulinski. The FBI admitted at the time that they did possess a Hunter Biden laptop and interviewed Bobulinski after he stepped forward, but did not provide any details with regard to potential investigations into the ex-vice president's son.

    While the DOJ remained silent about ongoing probes into Hunter Biden, the US mainstream media dismissed the laptop issue as "Russian disinformation", although the claim was immediately shredded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

    Following The Wall Street Journal's December reporting, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) expressed bewilderment over piles of evidence concerning Hunter Biden's questionable financial dealings with Ukraine and China having been neglected for so long.

    ​Although there are no signs that Joe Biden is under the investigation, ongoing cases involving his son and potentially his brother, James Biden, could cast a shadow on his potential presidential tenure, Politico warned, adding that the inquiries go beyond the Delaware tax probe.

    "If the cases remain open when Joe Biden takes office, they could complicate his presidency, and shine an unflattering light on his relatives' dealings, which often seek to capitalise on the Biden family’s political connections", the magazine underscored.

    Related:

    Trump Legal Team Slams US AG Barr's Statement on Voter Fraud Allegation Investigation
    Attorney General Barr Might Step Down Before End of January, Reports Suggest
    AG Barr Reportedly Tried to Keep Hunter Biden Tax Probes Out of Public Eye in Run-up to US Election
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    FBI, William Barr, Donald Trump, Republican Party, China, Burisma, Ukraine, laptop, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, US
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