Is it Time for a Special Counsel on the Hunter Biden Scandal?
By Jonathan Turley
“Come on H this is linked to Celtic’s account.” Those nine words from a retired Secret Service agent to Hunter Biden in recently released emails may prove a nasty complication for some in Washington who have struggled to contain the blowback from the still-unfolding scandal linked to Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop.
“Celtic” was the Secret Service code name for Joe Biden, and recent disclosures may puncture the media’s cone-of-silence around the scandal. The emails link President Biden to his son’s accounts and indicate a commingling of funds with money coming from controversial foreign sources. Even more embarrassing, the shared account may have been used to pay a Russian prostitute named “Yanna.”
The commingling of funds is the latest contraction of President Biden’s repeated claims that he was unaware and uninvolved in past dealings by his son. Given these links, there are legitimate questions of why the Justice Department has not sought a special counsel in the ongoing investigation of alleged money-laundering and tax violations linked to the president’s son. More importantly, even if there are no criminal charges, there is now a compelling need for an independent report on the alleged influence peddling operation by Hunter, his uncle James Biden, and potentially his father, President Biden.
Politico Illustration; NBCU Photo Bank; Getty Images
In the latest disclosures from the laptop, a former secret service agent reportedly texted Hunter on May 24, 2018, when he was holed up with a Russian prostitute in an expensive room at The Jeremy Hotel in Los Angeles. Hunter wired the woman $25,000. That alone was nothing out of the ordinary for Hunter who, while his father served as vice president, seemed to divide his time equally between influence-peddling and personal debaucheries.
Hunter clearly had influence and access to sell. We know now that foreign interests gave Hunter millions at a time that he admits that he was a crack addict and alcoholic — in his words, “Drinking a quart of vodka a day by yourself in a room is absolutely, completely debilitating,” as well as “smoking crack around the clock.”
However, the tranche of emails raises a new and disturbing element: the possible mixing of accounts and funds between Hunter and his father. If true, President Biden could be directly implicated in ongoing investigations into his son’s money transfers and dealings.
Most notable are the new emails from Eric Schwerin, his business partner at the Rosemont Seneca consultancy, referencing the payment of household bills for both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. He also notes that he was transferring money from Joe Biden. If true, the communications indicate that some of President Biden’s personal expenses were paid out of shared accounts with Hunter, including accounts that may have been used to pay for prostitutes. Rosemont Seneca is directly involved in the alleged influence peddling schemes and questionable money transfers from Chinese and Russian sources.
Schwerin also was involved in President Biden’s taxes and discussions of a book deal for the then-vice president; he popped up in the donation of Biden’s official papers to the University of Delaware, with restrictions on access.
President Biden has long insisted that that his son did “nothing wrong.” That is obviously untrue. One can argue over whether Hunter committed any crime, but few would say that there is nothing wrong with raw influence peddling worth millions with foreign entities. The public has a legitimate reason to know whether the President or his family ran an influence peddling operation worth millions.
Given this record, there is little reason for the public to trust what it is reading about the scandal. The media has long refused to investigate the allegations or even report on emails contradicting the President. This was most evident when social media like Twitter actually blocked postings on the laptop or its content before the election. Powerful figures then issued false statements about the scandal to the public. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who assured “this whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin.” Some 50 former intelligence officials, including Obama’s CIA directors John Brennan and Leon Panetta, also insisted the laptop story was likely the work of Russian intelligence. The laptop is now recognized as genuine.
This is not the first contradiction for President Biden in his repeated denials of knowing anything about his son’s business dealings. Hunter himself contradicted his father’s repeated denial. Likewise, a key business associate of Hunter Biden, Anthony Bobulinski, confirmed the authenticity of the emails and accused Joe Biden of lying about his involvement. Bobulinski has detailed a meeting with Joe Biden in a hotel to go over the dealings.
Past emails included discussions of offering access to then-Vice President Biden. They also include alleged payments to Joe Biden. In one email, there is a discussion of a proposed equity split of “20” for “H” and “10 held by H for the big guy?” Bobulinski confirmed that “H” was used for Hunter Biden and that his father was routinely called “the big guy” in these discussions.
Just to make things more concerning is Hunter Biden’s recent acknowledgement that one of his laptops may have been stolen by Russian agents and was likely being used for blackmail purposes. The fact that the president’s son admitted that Russians may have intentionally seized one of his laptops during a drug binge, in order to blackmail him, raises serious potential national security concerns — especially if any of the emails include compromising information about the president directly benefiting from the very same accounts used by his son.
That creates a rather nasty problem at the Justice Department. Federal regulations allow the appointment of a special counsel when it is in the public interest and an “investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”
I do not see direct evidence of criminal conduct by President Biden even if he lied about his past knowledge of his son’s conduct. Indeed, influence peddling is not a per se crime even for Hunter. However, one value of a special counsel is the expectation of a report that can address whether the family engaged in influence peddling with foreign powers and whether foreign powers may have acquired compromising material from these laptop files.
In 2017, Democratic members and activists were adamant that the Justice Department should carry out an investigation involving President Trump and his family. Then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) insisted that, without a special counsel, “every American will rightfully suspect … a coverup.”
There is already a federal criminal investigation into these matters involving Hunter Biden, and the latest emails now link President Biden receiving money and benefits from related accounts as well as key players. Even if one questions a direct conflict of interest, it is hard to deny the towering appearance of a conflict in the ongoing investigation.
“The Big Guy” is now president and his administration is handling an investigation that could have political as well as legal implications for him and his family. It may be time for a special counsel.
(TLB) published this article from Jonathan Turley with our appreciation for this perspective.
Emphasis and Pictorial content added by (TLB) editors
Header featured image/credit: Joe & Hunter/TODAY illustration / Getty Images
Professor Jonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals at Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, and other schools.
After a stint at Tulane Law School, Professor Turley joined the George Washington faculty in 1990 and, in 1998, was given the prestigious Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law, the youngest chaired professor in the school’s history. In addition to his extensive publications, Professor Turley has served as counsel in some of the most notable cases in the last two decades including the representation of whistleblowers, military personnel, judges, members of Congress, and a wide range of other clients.
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