Congressional Republicans on Tuesday blasted the plea deal Hunter Biden reached with the Justice Department, accusing President Biden of orchestrating a lenient penalty for his son and promising to intensify their investigations of the Biden family.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the agreement, in which Hunter Biden pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for failing to pay taxes on time and could avoid prosecution on a separate gun charge, “continues to show the two-tier system in America.”
He and many other Republicans drew a contrast between the charges against Mr. Biden and the 37-count indictment the Justice Department unsealed this month against former President Donald J. Trump on charges that he mishandled highly classified national security documents and lied to and obstructed investigators looking into the matter.
“If you are the president’s leading political opponent, D.O.J. tries to literally put in you jail and give you prison time,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol. “If you are the president’s son, you get a sweetheart deal.”
Mr. Trump is accused of willfully retaining national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, making false statements and engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct justice — far more serious crimes than the ones for which the younger Mr. Biden was scrutinized.
Leading Democrats argued that bringing any charges at all against the president’s son reflected the independence of the Justice Department, noting that the United States attorney who led the investigation into Hunter Biden, David C. Weiss, was appointed by Mr. Trump.
“This development reflects the Justice Department’s continued institutional independence in following the evidence of actual crimes and enforcing the rule of law even in the face of constant criticism and heckling by my G.O.P. colleagues who think that the system of justice should only follow their partisan wishes,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement.
Still, Mr. McCarthy said the deal should only “enhance” congressional Republicans’ investigation into the Bidens.
Representative James R. Comer of Kentucky, the chairman of the Oversight Committee undertaking that inquiry, said he would do just that in a statement calling the charges against Hunter Biden a “slap on the wrist.”
“We will not rest until the full extent of President Biden’s involvement in the family’s schemes are revealed,” said Mr. Comer, who has been looking for evidence of wrongdoing by the president in his inquiry, but has so far failed to unearth any.
Senator Rick Scott of Florida also pushed the idea that the plea deal reflected a politicized Justice Department going easy on Mr. Biden while pursuing Mr. Trump.
“A slap on the wrist for Hunter Biden while ‘The Big Guy’ continues to hunt down his top political opponent,” he wrote on Twitter. “This doesn’t show equal justice. It’s a mockery of our legal system by a family that has no respect for our laws.”
And Senator J.D. Vance, the Ohio Republican who announced after Mr. Trump’s indictment that he would block consideration of Biden administration nominees to positions at the Justice Department, said Hunter Biden’s case reinforced his argument.
“This is exhibit 1,402 for why I’m holding Biden’s DOJ nominees,” he wrote on Twitter. “We have a two-tiered justice system in our country. It’s a disgrace.”
Kayla Guo is a reporter in Washington covering Congress. She is part of the 2023-24 New York Times Fellowship class. @kaylaguo_
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