Hunter Biden over a photo of the Capitol Building

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Right-wing media spread conflicting conspiracy theories in reaction to the Hunter Biden tax charges

Conservatives claim the indictment of President Biden’s son on tax charges is both a cover-up and an effort by Democrats to get the president off the 2024 ballot

On December 7, Hunter Biden was indicted on three felony and six misdemeanor charges relating to tax crimes in California, regarding a total of $1.4 million in unpaid taxes that he has already repaid. Conservative media reacted to the indictment with seemingly contradictory conspiracy theories, claiming that the charges are both an effort to force his father, President Joe Biden, off the 2024 ballot and a “cover-up” to protect one or both of them.

  • Right-wing media baselessly claimed that Hunter Biden’s indictment is a cover-up or distraction to help him or his father

    • Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo repeatedly claimed that the indictment was a “cover-up.” On her Fox Business show, Bartiromo said: “I see this as a very convenient time for the FBI and the DOJ to roll this out to once again give cover to Hunter Biden,” saying he could use the charges to avoid testifying before the House Oversight Committee. Bartiromo later repeated the claim, asking a guest, “Is this a further cover-up?” Bartiromo also repeated this conspiracy theory to Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) on Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures, saying: “I’m just wondering if the timing of this indictment … is partly cover-up” because “they decided to indict Hunter Biden the weekend before he was supposed to go under oath in a closed-door testimony.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/8/23, 12/8/23; Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 12/10/23]
    • Newsmax guest Doug Burns: “They’re providing cover so Hunter Biden doesn’t have to comply with congressional oversight.” Burns added, “There's a lot of back nuances going on here,” and host Lidia Curanaj agreed, saying, “Absolutely.” [Newsmax, Sunday Agenda, 12/10/23]
    • OutKick host Charly Arnolt on Fox’s MediaBuzz called the indictment “nothing more than a smokescreen to really cover up for the real crimes that Hunter Biden is engaging in.” [Fox News, MediaBuzz, 12/10/23]
    • Newsmax host Rob Finnerty suggested that prosecutors were “sitting on this indictment” and used it to give Hunter cover to “plead the fifth” during a House hearing. [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 12/8/23]
    • Newsmax host Eric Bolling said the Hunter indictment is a “shiny object” and “bait” to distract Biden supporters from “what’s going on in the Middle East.” Trump adviser Jason Miller agreed, saying: “When you look at what’s going on here, it does have a bit of a feeling of the Biden folks creating bad news to cover up other bad news.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 12/8/23]
    • Fox Business host Larry Kudlow: “The Biden White House helped orchestrate” charges against Hunter so he can avoid testifying before the House. [Fox Business, Kudlow, 12/8/23]
    • Fox host Jesse Watters: Special counsel David “Weiss is actually helping” Hunter by indicting him “because of the timing.” Guest Brett Tolman agreed, saying: “This is an effort to also protect Joe Biden.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 12/7/23]
    • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote in a post teasing a segment of his podcast: “Hunter Indicted! DOJ Covers Up for Joe Biden & FBI Stonewalls Congress.” [Twitter/X, 12/8/23]
  • Right-wing media also theorized that Hunter Biden’s indictment is part of a scheme to push the president off the 2024 ballot

    • YourVoice America’s Bill Mitchell: “Clearly, the Democrats are getting ready to throw Biden under the bus. No way they would be indicting Hunter now unless that was the plan.” [Twitter/X, 12/8/23]
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham asked Fox contributor Sean Duffy if the Hunter Biden charges could be an “off ramp” for Democrats looking to replace Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for president. Duffy said in response, “If they can tie this to Joe Biden, I think you are right, Laura. Democrats are going to look for an off ramp and they’re going to look to the hair-gel governor in California.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 12/7/23]
    • Right-wing radio host Buck Sexton claimed the “DNC plan” is to have Biden win the election, pardon Hunter Biden, then step down so “Kamala takes over.” He added, “First black female president, 8 years of Democrat regime ruining America… But are they miscalculating? [Twitter/X, 12/8/23]
    • While talking to Sean Hannity, Fox contributor Tomi Lahren claimed that “Hunter is the sacrificial lamb for the Democrat Party because this, I believe, is how they get Joe to step aside.” She added, “They don't want Joe to be the nominee. They’re going to turn up the heat and turn the screws to get Joe to walk away. This just might be the thing that does it.” [Fox News, Hannity, 12/7/23]
    • On Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt Tonight, The Federalist’s Ben Weingarten called Hunter Biden a “sacrificial lamb” as an “insurance policy potentially to sideline Joe Biden.” He complained that the charges against Hunter Biden stop short of involving President Biden and others in the Biden family, saying, “Unregistered Foreign Agent Registration Act, money laundering, and other serious offenses like sex trafficking” are not in the charging document. [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 12/8/23]
    • Gateway Pundit gave weight to GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s speculation that the indictment “is one more sign that the deep state is planning to sideline Biden & pick a new puppet for 2024.” The article stated, “Whether or not his theory is accurate, Ramaswamy did not pull his comments out of thin air,” citing polling showing dissatisfaction with Biden as the Democratic presidential pick. [The Gateway Pundit, 12/10/23]