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‘Karma’ or ‘political prosecution?’ Voters weigh in on Hunter Biden criminal trials

Federal criminal charges brought against Hunter Biden in Delaware and California have Americans divided along familiar partisan lines, but voters are unsurprised and, in some cases, pleased to see President Joe Biden standing by his adult son as he fights to avoid prison time.

That’s the main takeaway from a series of interviews USA Today conducted as Hunter Biden prepares to stand trial on Monday for lying about his drug use to buy a gun. The case will go before a Wilmington, Delaware, jury only a few weeks before Biden squares off with Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump in their first presidential debate in Atlanta.

Following a derailed plea deal, Hunter Biden, 54, also faces nine tax charges that carry a combined maximum penalty of 17 years in prison in Los Angeles. That trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5, five days before Joe Biden and Trump are expected to meet in another presidential debate.

“On the one hand, what is a dad supposed to do?” said Thomas Brown, 46, an independent from Long Beach, California. “On the other hand, he’s the commander in chief. He’s got the most important position on the planet and this is why there are laws.”

Aware of the politics surrounding the case, Hunter Biden’s lawyers proposed asking potential Delaware jurors about how closely they are following the 2024 presidential election, how they feel about President Biden and his accomplishments, and how closely they follow news about Trump.

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

A dozen Delaware residents will serve on the jury deciding whether Hunter Biden is guilty in his upcoming trial. The voting-age population for the entire country will have the opportunity to determine his dad’s fate in the presidential election.

More:As Trump’s trial nears an end, the Bidens prep for a month in legal purgatory

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“What any parent would do for their child”

Although he rarely discusses his son’s issues, when Trump invoked Hunter Biden’s drug use during a presidential debate in 2020, Joe Biden came to his defense.

“My son – like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home – had a drug problem,” Biden said. “He’s overtaken it, he’s fixed it, he’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.”

Hunter Biden’s drug addiction has long been a sore point for the president. Three Biden advisers told Politico recently they are concerned about the weight the trials will place on him and that he worries about his son “from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep.”

The Biden campaign declined comment and the White House did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Some of the president’s supporters find his commitment to his family commendable and relatable. Carol Vasquez, 74, an independent from St. Louis, Missouri, said she thinks the president is an “excellent parent” and a “good family man” for standing by his son.

“That’s the kind of man you want in office. A man who has integrity and honesty,” Vasquez said. “They’re always your children no matter how old they, or how old you are. Once you have children, you have them.”

Republicans and Trump, who a jury on Thursday found guilty in a hush money and election interference case, however, are likely to use the Hunter Biden cases to attack the president and his family.

But even for those who don’t agree with the president’s politics, his defense of his son doesn’t seem to make them like him less.

“I think that’s what any parent would do for their child,” said Jane Dhemecourt, 67, an independent from Abita Springs, Louisiana, who plans to vote for Trump in November.

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President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden attend the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on on April 1, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Political motivations “not a coincidence”

Half of Americans say they believe Hunter Biden received favorable treatment from prosecutors because he is the president’s son, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll last summer. The poll found Republicans (75%) were much more likely to report that than independents (42%) or Democrats (33%).

Hunter Biden has called the rarely brought gun-related charges against him politically driven and accused Republicans of weaponizing his past drug addiction to attack his father during a contentious election.

Deanne Robinson, 56, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, Florida, agrees. She plans to vote for Biden in November.

“It’s not a coincidence. It’s a ploy to tie Joe and Hunter together as if it is Joe that is undergoing those charges,” Robinson said. “But my thoughts are if he is found guilty, let justice be served.”

Mike McCombs, 67, a Republican from Lincolnton, Georgia, said he sees the Hunter Biden trials as payback for the president’s family following Trump’s six-week long trial in Manhattan. He plans to vote for Trump in November.

“I think karma has caught up with him, the whole family,” McCombs said. “The reality of politics has caught up with them. They spent all that time trying to put Trump in jail and they’ve done a whole lot worse.”

Trump has repeatedly claimed that his opponent in the presidential election rigged the New York trial, but the case was brought by state prosecutors and not directed by the Biden administration.

Brown said he believes the trials surrounding both Trump and Hunter Biden are politically motivated and a “mockery” of the justice system. He said he doesn’t like either of the major party candidates and is not planning to vote for president in November.

“I thought [Trump] should have been impeached but quite frankly, as far as I can tell, this New York prosecution is the definition of political prosecution,” Brown said. “Same thing applies to Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden is a scumbag. The idea that the President’s kid is a scumbag is not surprising but this is another definition of political prosecution.”

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Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, departs following a closed deposition with members of the Republican-led House Oversight Committee conducting an impeachment inquiry into the president, at the O'Neill House Office Building in Washington, on February 28, 2024.

Trials unlikely to change voters’ minds

A majority polled last summer said Hunter Biden’s charges will not affect their support for his father in 2024. Across the political aisle, voters said Hunter Biden’s trials will not change their vote in November. For some, they don’t plan to follow the trials at all.

“It is not anything I’m paying attention to. It’s not going to change the way I think about the direction of the country and it’s not going to change my vote in any way, shape, or form,” said Dhemecourt, the Louisianan who added she is more focused on Trump securing the southern U.S. border. “I think it’s just a distraction by the media from what is really going on. I mean, we have real issues in this country that are really, really important.”

Vasquez said she plans to pay attention to news coverage of the trials but that they will not affect her vote for Biden in the fall.

“I don’t think that anything that our kids do — you know, they’re adults. I don’t think any of that would have a bearing on how I vote,” Vasquez said. “I would hope it wouldn’t on other people either.”

Robinson said nothing she learns in the trials is likely to change her vote for Biden in November, but that the president’s response to them might.

“If he denounced his son, I wouldn’t show up at the polls,” Robinson said. “A parent should stand by their child and support them through difficult times.”

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