One Small Mystery

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: With a poster of a New York Post front page story about Hunter Biden’s emails on display, Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) listen during a hearing ... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: With a poster of a New York Post front page story about Hunter Biden’s emails on display, Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) listen during a hearing before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on February 8, 2023 in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter's Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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As you’d expect, news that the long-running Hunter Biden investigation is ending with pleas to a few relatively low level infractions that are unlikely to result in jail time has been met with gnashing of teeth and donning of sack cloth, in “Where’s Hunter?”/”Biden Crime Family” land. But they are holding on to one faint glimmer of hope. Is the investigation really, really, really over? As in super double over?

Let’s take a look.

Biden’s lawyer Christopher Clark said in a statement this morning that “it is my understanding that the five-year investigation into Hunter is resolved.” Reporting in various publications based on anonymous sources and “sources close to the negotiation” basically confirm that. Politico, for instance, reports this: “The plea agreement is intended to be a comprehensive resolution of Hunter Biden’s potential legal liability in all matters investigated by federal authorities, a person familiar with the negotiations said.”

So seems clear enough.

But there’s more!

The Department of Justice released a statement by U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss in which he gives a pretty unremarkable recitation of the agreement. Then tucked inconspicuously down at the end of paragraph five he writes: “The investigation is ongoing.”

So is this done or is there more to come?

Generally speaking you plea out as a global resolution to everything you’re facing. Otherwise, why are you doing it? That can’t be treated as an absolute rule. But it’s generally how things work. Add to this the fact that not only is Biden’s lawyer saying this but reporters covering this seem to think this is done as well.

But then why that statement?

Right wingers first seized on this as evidence that there’s more to come and their grandest hopes aren’t actually dashed. But then they came up with an alternate explanation. Maybe the DOJ is keeping the case open on what is now a phantom investigation for the sinister purpose of having an excuse not to turn materials over to Reps. Comer and Jordan. For the moment they appear to be going with both: the dream is alive and the fix is in, with maybe some trend toward the latter.

I’d like to conclude this post with a silver bullet explanation. “In fact, it’s Obvious Answer number five!” But, at least for now, there’s no clear or Obvious Answer. Even the reporters following this closest don’t seem quite clear what it means. Politico for instance speculates that while Hunter Biden himself may face no more exposure the investigation might be continuing with potential charges for others. It’s just not clear. Maybe it’s just boilerplate and it doesn’t really mean anything. The folks who I’d expect would know don’t seem to know.

In any case, if you see people discussing this still dangling thread to the Hunter Biden drama, that’s the best we have so far.

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