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Right-wing media baselessly suggest Joe Biden and Jill Biden are engaging in witness and jury tampering at Hunter Biden's trial

As Hunter Biden’s gun felony trial began this week in Delaware, right-wing media figures repeatedly accused members of the Biden family of attempting to influence the jury and interfere with witnesses. At issue, according to right-wing media, was the attendance of Biden family members at the trial, mainly first lady Jill Biden, as well as President Joe Biden visiting Beau Biden’s widow, who is also a witness in the case, ahead of the trial. (The president visited Hallie Biden just days before the anniversary of his son’s death, and the White House confirmed they did not discuss the case.) 

  • Hunter Biden’s trial kicked off June 3

    • Hunter Biden was indicted on three charges. Hunter Biden’s trial, which began on June 3 in Wilmington, Delaware, focuses on three firearm felonies for lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the federal form recording the purchase of a firearm, and possessing a gun “while he was allegedly an unlawful user or addicted to controlled substances” in October 2018. [Delaware U.S. District Court, USA v. Robert Hunter Biden, Indictment, 9/14/23; Delaware Online, 5/31/24
    • Just prior to the trial, Joe Biden briefly visited Hallie Biden, widow of Beau Biden, around the anniversary of his son’s 2015 death from brain cancer. Hallie is also a witness for the prosecution due to her later relationship with Hunter Biden. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates explained that the president did not discuss the case, stating, “He visited her because of the approaching 9th anniversary of Beau’s passing.” [New York Post, 5/27/24
    • Right-wing personalities have a history of obsessing over Hunter Biden’s work and personal life. Right-wing media figures and outlets have been fixated on Hunter Biden for years, often creating grand conspiracy theories in attempts to attack Joe Biden’s presidency. [Media Matters, 12/11/23, 2/13/24]
  • Right-wing media personalities claimed that Jill Biden has been attending the trial to influence jurors

    • Fox News' Jeanine Pirro accused Jill Biden of using “a mob tactic” and showing a “mob mentality” for attending Hunter’s trial. According to Pirro, the first lady's presence in the courtroom was saying to the jury: “We know who you are. We are in the courtroom, and we’re watching you.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/3/24, 6/5/24]
    • Fox News contributor Leo Terrell argued that the real reason for Jill and Joe Biden’s showing support for Hunter is to “influence the jury pool.” He continued, “There’s a tremendous amount of influence being put on by the Bidens to the jury.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/4/24]
    • Fox News legal editor and former Trump Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec Urbahn claimed that Jill Biden “sitting there during jury selection” is about sending “a message from the White House.” She said, “If you are a juror sitting there, you're looking at Hunter Biden and thinking about the ramifications of this case, and the first lady is sitting there in the front row watching you as you do that. I mean, that is definitely a message from the White House.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 6/3/24]
    • Fox News host Jesse Watters claimed that Jill and Ashley Biden were “sending a message” by “sitting front row during jury selection.” Watters added, “They were smiling, whispering, locking eyes with potential jurors, just carrying on.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/3/24]
    • Former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan accused Jill Biden of attending court in order to “play the sympathy card” with the jury. Kaplan argued that in any other place this would be “an open and shut case,” but “there’s only one card to play, and that is … Jill Biden, the first lady, is going to sit there and play the sympathy card.” He added, “I would like to keep a count of how many boxes of tissues are going to be circulated throughout the next two weeks, and you will see the jury be sympathetic, and what you’re going to have at best is a hung jury in this particular case. And that’s exactly the only card that’s going to be played by this defense.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/3/24]
    • On Fox, former Trump acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker claimed that “this is very much a home court advantage for the Biden family, and having Jill Biden as the first lady walk into court and sit behind Hunter, it sends a very clear message to that jury, who are again citizens of Delaware.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/4/24]
    • Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett argued that the case would “normally be a slam dunk,” but Jill Biden is attending the trial to “remind” Delaware jurors that “the name Biden is sacrosanct.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/3/24]
    • Jarrett alleged that Jill Biden was “sitting there right behind Hunter” to encourage jurors to “nullify the law and acquit.” Jarrett called it “a visual reminder to the jurors, ‘Hey, the Bidens own this state.’”  [Fox News, Hannity, 6/4/24
    • Fox News host Emily Compagno said: “The first lady’s in a courtroom and you're trying to tell me that's not going to have an impact on the jury?” Host Greg Gutfeld added, “It's a great point — you have her showing up for choosing the jury pool, which is very strange.” [Fox News, Gutfeld!, 6/4/24]
  • Right-wing media personalities also speculated that Joe Biden’s visit to Hallie Biden’s home was witness tampering

    • Newsmax host Ed Henry said: “Conservatives are already correctly asking did Mr. Biden promise his former daughter-in-law anything? Did he threaten her? Did he coach her on her test?” He continued, “We don't know. They met privately, a week before the trial.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling: The Balance, 5/27/24
    • Suggesting the incident proved the president is “tampering” with the case, Fox’s Jesse Watters said that “Joe Biden shouldn’t be anywhere near Hallie Biden on the eve of his son’s trial.” He added, “Just the appearance of being alone in the room with the prosecution’s star witness a week before jury selection could be seen as witness tampering. What do you think Joe Biden was telling the witness?” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 5/28/24
    • Newsmax host Rob Schmitt criticized Joe Biden for making “a surprise visit” to a witness' home “as the most powerful man in this country,” equating his behavior to that of “a lawless tyrant.” He added, “Imagine if Donald Trump did this while president and Don Jr. was on trial. It would be clear proof of the end of democracy and the descent into fascist authoritarianism.” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 5/28/24
    • Conservative Political Action Conference Chairman Matt Schlapp accused White House counsel Ed Siskel of “greenlighting influencing a witness in Hunter's first criminal trial literally days away. Delaware GOP Chair Julianne Murray agreed that it was “absolutely not OK” for Joe Biden to visit Hallie Biden just before the trial. [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 5/28/24
    • On Newsmax, Veterans for Trump executive director Jessie Jane Duff claimed that Joe and Hallie Biden’s visit “had nothing to do with the anniversary of [Beau Biden’s] death” and that Joe Biden just “wanted to make sure that she didn't say anything that could sink his son or hurt his campaign or hurt his opportunity for reelection.” Host Chris Plante agreed that “it looks like they're coordinating the testimony before the trial.” [Newsmax, Chris Plante: The Right Squad, 5/28/24]
    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro complained that Joe Biden visiting Hallie Biden “looks a lot like a little bit like witness tampering, like, just a little bit.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 6/3/24]
  • Right-wing media personalities claimed that Joe Biden spending time with Hunter in public is “sending a signal” to jurors

    • Fox host Greg Gutfeld claimed that Joe Biden was trying to send a “message” to jurors by “suddenly taking long bike rides together” with his son. While a picture of the bike ride appeared on screen, Gutfeld stated: “That photo is a message. It's Delaware for: Remember jurors, I'm the president and I can always call the IRS.” [Fox News, Gutfeld!, 6/4/24
    • Ben Shapiro accused the Biden family of interfering with the jury’s impression of the case by spending time with Hunter Biden and attending court. Shapiro argued that “if you're talking about jury interference, what juries think, the human dynamic in Wilmington, Delaware, there is something a little weird about the fact that the defendant in this case, who is the son of the president of the United States, was out biking with dad wearing a shirt that said 46 literally on Sunday. And then he’s in court with most of his family.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 6/4/24]
    • Fox contributor Miranda Devine accused Joe Biden of “sending a signal” by making “a real conspicuous display of being alongside his son the last two weeks.” Devine continued, “You don't have to say anything. You just have to say ‘mess with my son, you mess with me.’” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/3/24