Hunter Biden Conviction Undercuts a Trump Narrative, and a Fund-Raising Pitch

The moment had finally come. Late Tuesday morning, nearly five years after Republicans first went after Hunter Biden, the president’s son could finally be called a convicted felon.

But Donald J. Trump and other Republicans did not seem to be relishing the opportunity. The early reaction to a jury’s guilty verdict against Hunter Biden on three felony gun charges resembled a shriveling balloon.

“The Hunter Biden gun conviction is kinda dumb tbh,” said one close Trump ally, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, in a post on X, using an abbreviation for “to be honest.” Another Trump associate, Charlie Kirk, called it a “fake trial.”

Many Trump allies had been secretly rooting for an acquittal. The talking points wrote themselves: It would have been yet more evidence that the United States justice system was rigged in favor of the Bidens and against the Trumps. Tuesday’s guilty verdict was inconvenient to that narrative.

Even more valuable would have been the fund-raising potential.

A person with knowledge of the Trump campaign’s fund-raising plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there had been discussions about how much an acquittal would help Mr. Trump, potentially raising tens of millions of additional dollars as they planned to cite it as more evidence the justice system was rigged. After Mr. Trump was convicted in Manhattan on 34 felony counts, his campaign raised record sums online, and some of his advisers recognized that an acquittal of Mr. Biden’s son had the potential to raise Mr. Trump far more cash than a conviction, the person said.

Prominent Republicans, including those in the Trump campaign, immediately minimized the three felony gun charges, complaining that the charges steered public attention away from unspecified crimes that they claimed President Biden has committed and a justice system that they insisted was still very much two-tiered.

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