Most observers (myself included) expected Hunter Biden’s appearance in a Delaware court today to be a fairly routine affair. The president’s son would show up, plead guilty and get off with a slap on the wrist for tax and gun offenses that deserve far harsher punishment. Instead, a chaotic day ended with the plea deal falling apart, a judge issuing an eyebrow-raising opinion on the terms offered to Hunter, and a not guilty plea from the president’s son.
The fate of the plea deal was up in the air throughout the day, with the two sides clashing over what the deal would mean for future charges against Hunter (whose lawyers seemed to want him to get a Get Out of Jail Free card), then hashing out a clarified agreement, before US District Judge Maryellen Noreika said she needed more information before giving the deal her approval.
For a White House desperate for the Hunter mess to go away, today’s chaotic proceedings would have been an unpleasant surprise. Not that White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was prepared to deviate from her script: “Hunter Biden is a private citizen,” Jean-Pierre said in today’s briefing, repeating her stock response to any questions surrounding the president’s son. Normally she waits for the rare question about the president’s son to deliver the line. Today, she got it out of the way before any hands went up.
Perhaps the most damning part of the hearing for the president was Judge Noreika’s skepticism about the deal, which she described as possibly “unconstitutional,” “not worth the paper it is printed on” and “not standard, not what I normally see.” Judge Noreika’s skepticism appears to center on the fact that the deal could offer Hunter immunity from future prosecution even as possible foreign agent charges loom over the first son.
Today’s messy proceedings were the Hunter Biden saga in microcosm. The White House, the Democratic Party and some in the media are desperate for it to go away and assuming it will, but the inconvenient set of facts relating to the president’s son’s chaotic conduct make for a bigger story than they hoped, or realized.
On our radar
THE TRUTH IS IN CONGRESS A former Air Force intelligence officer testified in a House Oversight Committee hearing on UFOs today. The whistleblower said the US has likely been aware of “non-human” activity since the 1930s.
FED RAISES RATES The Fed said it “remained highly attentive to inflation risks” as it raised rates to a twenty-two-year high.
Ron on the ropes
Let’s move on to with something we can all agree on: things aren’t going well for Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor himself appears to recognize as much, grinding through a painfully drawn-out campaign reboot. It started with a rethink of Team DeSantis’s cunning strategy to ignore the media from which most voters get their news. The latest phase came yesterday, when a third of the DeSantis campaign team was let go. (Unsurprisingly, a penchant for meme videos featuring Nazi iconography did not help staffers’ chances of being kept on.) But the leaner, meaner DeSantis operation will have its work cut out. Not least because of their candidate’s repeated unforced errors. Today’s slipup: suggesting that he might think about appointing antivax kook RFK Jr. to the FDA or the CDC. What happened to the governor who won over Florida moderates with sensible Covid policies like not shutting schools for two years?
The Biden family seems to care more about its dogs than the men and women who work to keep them safe every day. After numerous biting incidents, often but not exclusively of Secret Service agents, their dog Major was expelled. Now it may be Commander’s turn to hit the road — the question is how many agents need to get bitten first.
The New York Post reports that over the course of four months, September 2022 to January 2023, the German Shepherd bit seven people, and there are likely more incidents outside that block of time. Cockburn finds it a bit strange that neither Joe nor Jill are willing to take the proactive step of muzzling their dogs — after all, hasn’t this White House been all too eager to muzzle Americans?
According to the Post, the worst attack occurred on November 3, when a Secret Service agent was bitten on his arm and thigh and had to go to the hospital. Shortly thereafter, on November 10, another agent was bitten on the thigh; a month after that on December 11, yet another was injured on the arm and hand. That just scratches — or bites? — the surface of the pain Commander has inflicted on his victims. Cockburn is just speculating, but could the cocaine found in the White House be Commander’s…?
The White House released a statement saying that it “is a unique and often stressful environment for family pets, and the First Family is working through ways to make this situation better for everyone.” Those “ways” supposedly include “additional leashing protocols and training, as well as establishing designated areas for Commander to run and exercise.”
That is all well and good, but Cockburn has a better idea: get a dog that doesn’t snap at every living thing that isn’t its owner — and let the German Shepherds live with a family who will dedicate the time to show them discipline and tend to their needs.
The White House is surely stressful, but Cockburn can’t recall this kind of violence from many of the (quite numerous) pets that have previously inhabited the property.
From the site
PRESIDENT BIDEN JOB APPROVAL
Approve 41.8% | Disapprove 53.5% | Net Approval -11.7
DIRECTION OF THE COUNTRY
Right direction: 25% | Wrong direction 63%
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