The most explosive news Thursday morning was that special counsel David Weiss has announced that he expects to indict Hunter Biden this month for possessing a gun while being a narcotics user -- a felony that carries a potential 10-year prison sentence. But despite Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski calling it "big news," the show buried the story deep in its fourth and final hour -- and even then devoted barely two minutes to it.
Weiss was only bringing the gun charge now because his attempt to let Hunter off the hook for it as part of a plea deal fell apart when the presiding judge started asking pointed questions. MSNBC's Jonathan Lemire characterized outrage over the deal as merely "Republicans howling that Hunter Biden had gotten some sort of sweetheart deal, when most prosecutors suggest that was not the case."
And Lemire and Brzezinski made much of the fact that Weiss had been appointed by Donald Trump.
If you want to understand just what an outrageous sweetheart deal it was, and how deeply Weiss - from Biden's home state of Delaware - was in the Biden bag, read this detailed and absolutely blistering takedown by Andrew C. McCarthy at the National Review. McCarthy was not only a former federal prosecutor but served in the prestigious Southern District of New York.
To understand the depth of Lemire's burying in suggesting that commentators deny there had been a sweetheart deal, let's consider the Morning Joe episode of July 26th of this year.
Danny Cevallos, an MSNBC legal analyst, was a guest. And as we wrote at the time, Cevallos said that the plea arrangement offered by Weiss was not merely a "sweetheart deal," but a "gift from heaven." Cevallos explained that to his knowledge, such a pre-trial diversion had never previously been offered in a federal gun case!
And guess who was on the Morning Joe panel that July 26th morning? Yup, Lemire.
And here we thought Joe Biden was the guy with the failing memory!
In terms of the impact on Joe Biden, Lemire also cast Hunter's coming indictment strictly in sympathetic, human terms, saying that it "takes a significant toll on the president and his family, deeply worried about his son Hunter." Lemire ignored the fact that, with the plea deal dead, Weiss and other prosecutors were free to investigate, and potentially bring charges, related to Hunter's influence-peddling schemes, and the alleged 10 percent reserved for the "Big Guy."
Morning Joe burying the news of Hunter Biden's looming indictment on federal gun charges deep into the fourth and final hour of its show was sponsored in part by GlaxoSmithKline, maker of an RSV vaccine, Nutrisystem, and Consumer Cellular.
Here's the transcript, click "expand" to read:
MSNBC's Morning Joe
9:19 am EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: And this big news we're covering this morning, the Justice Department special counsel leading an investigation into President Joe Biden's son is seeking a grand jury indictment before the end of the month.
In a court filing yesterday,U.S. Attorney David Weiss revealed, the planned timeline to charge Hunter Biden for possessing a gun while using narcotics. Both the gun felony and the separate tax fraud charge were expected to be resolved through a plea deal last month. Under its terms, the gun charge would have been dismissed in two years if Hunter stayed out of trouble. But the agreement fell apart when a judge raised questions about it during a hearing.
In a statement, Hunter's attorney writes they, quote, believe the agreement remains valid, and prevents any additional charges from being filed against Mr. Biden. The government has pushed back against those claims, saying the terms of the plea deal were never finalized.
So indictment for Hunter Biden possibly I guess, probably, in the next month.
JONATHAN LEMIRE: Yeah, David Weiss had suggested it would be by the end of September.
And that last bit there, the idea that this plea deal would protect him from any future charges, that's the sticking point. Because the government has left the door open to ongoing investigations.
We know, though, that this is also what triggered the appointment that made Weiss become a special counsel. Republicans howling that Hunter Biden had gotten some sort of sweetheart deal, when most prosecutors suggest that was not the case. They forget, of course, that Weiss, who was accused of being in the bag for the Biden family, Weiss was appointed by President Donald Trump.
MIKA: There you go.
LEMIRE: So, I mean, this is to be expected. We don't know where else the special counsel will go with this probe. He has not indicated where else it will go.
Certainly it takes a significant toll on the president and his family, deeply worried about his son Hunter. And we'll have to see what the next steps and the legal obligations are.
But this is also the impetus for Republicans suggesting they want an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, because they feel like there has been a cover-up here. And they have yet to present any evidence of that.
WILLIE GEIST: Speaker Mccarthy has been talking a lot about the inquiry in the last few weeks. We'll see if he follows up on it when they get back in session next week.