Hunter Biden
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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MAGA media figures claim Hunter Biden’s federal conviction is part of a cover-up

Fox host Greg Gutfeld: “My sense is that Hunter is going to jail so Joe doesn’t have to. And when he comes out, he'll be rewarded for his loyalty like a made man in a Biden crime family.”

Right-wing media figures are reacting to Hunter Biden’s felony gun conviction by claiming that the trial is a “red herring” that is “meant to distract the American people” from “much larger crimes of the Biden crime family,” suggesting that Hunter Biden should be charged with additional crimes, and asserting that the president will pardon his son despite his pledge not to do so. 

  • President Joe Biden’s son Hunter was convicted on three felony charges

    • On June 11, Hunter Biden was convicted of three felony counts relating to the purchase of a firearm. Hunter Biden was charged with two counts for lying on a federal background check form about his drug use while purchasing a revolver in 2018 and a third count of illegally possessing a firearm while being an active drug user. [The Associated Press, 6/11/24; CNN, 6/11/24]
    • Prior to the verdict, President Joe Biden stated in an interview with ABC News’ David Muir that he would not pardon his son if he was convicted. In that same interview, Joe Biden affirmed that he felt the trial was fair and that he would accept the ruling of the jury. [ABC News, 6/6/24; CNN, 6/6/24]
    • Right-wing media figures have pushed sometimes conflicting conspiracy theories about the gun possession trial and other legal proceedings against Hunter Biden. Ahead of and during the gun possession trial, right-wing media figures claimed that the trial was rigged in favor of the Bidens and accused the Bidens themselves of engaging in witness tampering. After Hunter Biden was indicted on other charges in December 2023, right-wing media baselessly claimed that it was a cover-up for other alleged crimes committed by the Bidens. [Media Matters, 6/11/24, 6/6/24, 12/11/23]
    • For years, right-wing media figures and GOP elected officials have ginned up wild accusations about business misdealings and other crimes they baselessly allege that Hunter Biden and his father committed. Right-wing media figures have repeatedly claimed that Hunter Biden’s position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company financially or politically benefited his father and constituted influence peddling. House Republicans launched an impeachment inquiry based on related conspiracy theories in September 2023, but the investigation has failed to identify compelling evidence of wrongdoing by the president, and is now reportedly in an advanced state of collapse. [Media Matters, 4/25/24, 9/13/23]
  • Right-wing media claimed the trial was a “red herring” and “distraction” from the Bidens’ supposed other crimes, including “shady business dealings” and “Ukraine bribery/laundering”

    • Right-wing pundit Jack Posobiec, who has pushed numerous conspiracy theories, claimed, “They went after Hunter on his gun stuff to make you overlook all his Ukraine stuff.” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24; Truth Social, 6/11/24; Media Matters, 11/14/18]
    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk declared on X (formerly Twitter): “The true crimes of the Biden Crime Family remain untouched.” He added, “This is a fake trial trying to make the Justice system appear ‘balanced.’ Don't fall for it.” On his show, Kirk alleged that the Biden administration, IRS, and Justice Department were involved in a “crime syndicate.” “This is a talking point trial,” the host said, claiming that Hunter Biden is “a useless pawn who is guilty of far more than what he was charged with to go after a Republican king piece who is guilty of no crimes at all.” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24; Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 6/11/24]
    • Fox host Greg Gutfeld speculated that “Hunter is going to jail so Joe doesn't have to” and claimed that the conviction is “a distraction from the influence peddling and the kickbacks.” Gutfeld elaborated, “When he [Hunter] comes out, he will be rewarded for his loyalty like a made man in a Biden crime family.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/11/24]
    • Right-wing social media account End Wokeness said that “Hunter Biden is a red herring,” adding, “The real person of interest in the Ukraine bribery/laundering” is Joe Biden. [Twitter/X, 6/11/24; Newsweek, 4/4/24]
    • Right-wing influencer Greg Price said that “Hunter Biden being convicted of a firearms charge is the ultimate red herring of red herrings.” He also claimed that the prosecutor “wouldn't go after him on the serious tax charges or on FARA because all of that would lead back to the shady business dealings involving his father.” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24]
    • Trump ally Stephen Miller asserted, “The gun charges are a giant misdirection,” and claimed the case “is all about protecting Joe Biden and only Joe Biden.” He added that the gun charges against Hunter Biden were “an easy op for DOJ to sell to a pliant media that is all too willing to be duped. Don’t be gaslit.” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24
    • Newsmax host Rob Schmitt called Hunter Biden’s conviction a “psyop” while his guest, former Trump official Monica Crowley, said it was “meant to distract the American people … from the much larger crimes of the Biden crime family.” Crowley claimed those supposed crimes include “influence peddling and making bank by selling America out to some of our worst enemies.” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 6/11/24]
    • On The Ingraham Angle, Mike Davis, who founded the conservative think tank Article III Project, said that the conviction is “a sideshow.” After host Laura Ingraham asked whether the verdict is “a red herring,” Davis declared: “I think it's a sideshow. We had this Democrat-picked U.S. attorney in Delaware, David Weiss, who covered up for Joe Biden and the Biden family. They tried to have a sweetheart plea deal with a back-door pardon. This judge in Delaware called them out on that, and then we have these gun charges that don't tie to Joe Biden.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/11/24]
    • On Hannity, Republican National Committee co-chair Lara Trump said Hunter Biden’s trial and conviction “is about smoke and mirrors, this is the red herring, this is a distraction” from “national security” concerns about “criminality with the Biden family.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/11/24; The Associated Press, 5/22/24]
  • Right-wing media reiterated conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden’s business dealings, asserting that he should be charged with other crimes

    • Right-wing social media influencer Rogan O’Handley, known online as “DC_Draino,” wrote: “HUNTER BIDEN GUILTY ON ALL 3 CHARGES. Now can we put him on trial for the actual crimes people care about like the foreign bribes in China, Ukraine, and other countries that he took on behalf of Joe Biden?” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24; Truth Social, 6/11/24; Daily Dot, 4/27/23]
    • Right-wing influencer Ian Miles Cheong wrote, “Hunter Biden did a whole bunch of crime. Will anyone talk about it?” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24]
    • The Federalist’s Sean Davis said that “Hunter Biden should be on trial for money laundering, tax evasion for his Burisma bribes, illegal influence peddling, and operating as an unregistered foreign agent of corrupt foreign governments.” Davis claimed that “he’s not, because a corrupt prosecutor refused to charge him for anything related to the Biden crime family syndicate.” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24]
    • On The Ingraham Angle, Trump’s former ambassador to Mexico Chris Landau said Hunter Biden’s gun charges and conviction are “the tip of an iceberg of allegations and much more serious crimes, and crimes that directly implicate — potential crimes that directly implicate the president.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/11/24]
    • Former 2020 Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said “this conviction is fine, but it’s the least important Biden crime,” citing “the Biden family business of selling access to Joe to foreign businessmen connected to foreign governments.” Murtaugh said: “That’s the real issue, but my fear is that the gun case will let the feds claim that they’ve acted fairly regarding the son of the president and then they won’t proceed on any of the other alleged crimes involving selling influence that would lead to Joe Biden.” [Twitter/X, 6/11/24]
  • Right-wing media suggested Joe Biden will pardon Hunter, despite the president’s clear statement that he would not do so

    • Above a chyron reading “Will Biden pardon his felon son?” Fox host Jeanine Pirro speculated the president would do so at the end of his term. She commented, “Of course, Joe Biden can wait until the end of his term or he can commute his sentence. Who knows, Joe has changed his mind, we don't know if he even understood the question.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/11/24]
    • Appearing on The Faulkner Focus, Fox News commentator and former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy stated that he expects Joe Biden to pardon his son after the election. He stated, “Parents are not going to let their kids go to prison if they have the power to stop it. So we just get past the election, plead guilty, act like they’re doing a pre-sentence investigation, and then I will pardon you when it doesn't hurt me politically.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/11/24]
    • After Outnumbered co-host Kayleigh McEnany suggested Joe Biden could issue a pardon or a commutation of his son’s sentence, Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley speculated he could do so as a “lame-duck president.” He added, “Usually, controversial pardons are granted in the final day of a presidency.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/11/24]
    • On Newsmax, attorney Ken Belkin speculated that “a pardon might be coming down the line” for Hunter Biden. [Newsmax, The National Report, 6/11/24]