Washington’s Pandora’s Box: The Opening of the Hunter Biden Laptop Could Expose the Cottage Industry of Influence Peddling

by | Nov 10, 2022


Below is my column in Fox.com on the impact of the likely GOP takeover of the House on the Hunter Biden scandal. Hunter Biden’s laptop is Washington’s Pandora’s Box. Opening up that laptop to greater public scrutiny could expose our local cottage industry of influence peddling.

Here is the column:

In the legend of Pandora’s box, the star-crossed Pandora releases a slew of evils upon the world. Notably, the only thing that she was able to trap in the box or jar was something that is likely to be at a premium in Washington this week: hope.

The likely Republican takeover of the House could yield a slew of investigations in the months to come. Washington is famous for managing scandals. Indeed, it is a virtual artform in the Beltway. However, there is one investigation that comes the closest to Pandora’s box for the Washington establishment. A serious investigation into the Hunter Biden scandal could put the political and media elite into an existential crisis.

Here are the “usual suspects” who could find themselves under a microscope for the first time as a result of a full investigation into Hunter Biden. 

The Bidens

The Biden family has long been associated with influence peddling to the degree that they could add an access key to their family crest. While they may be more aggressive than most families, influence peddling has long been a cottage industry in Washington. For decades, I have written about this loophole in bribery laws. It is illegal to give a member of Congress or a president even $100 to gain influence. However, you can literally give millions to their spouses or children in the forms of windfall contracts or cozy jobs.

President Joe Biden has faced repeated questions about influence peddling involving his family. (Getty Images)

James Biden has been remarkably (even refreshingly) open about marketing his access to his brother. Former Americore executive Tom Pritchard and others allege the Biden openly referenced his access to his brother and his family name in his pitch for clients. James has faced a wide array of litigation over allegedly fraudulent activities as well as a personal loan acquired through Americore before it went into bankruptcy.

Hunter worked with his uncle but also branched off on his own in the family business. While his father recently emphasized that his son was a hopeless addict, that defense stands in glaring contradiction to the fact that he maintained a multimillion-dollar influence-peddling scheme. The question is why foreign figures (including some associated with foreign intelligence) rushed to him international money transfers and complex deals worth millions from Moscow to Kyiv to Beijing.

However, the Biden most concerned may be the president himself. Joe Biden has repeatedly denied knowledge of Hunter Biden’s business entanglements despite numerous emails and pictures showing him meeting with Hunter associates. That includes at least 19 visits to the White House by Hunter’s partner, Eric Schwerin, alone between 2009 and 2015.

While emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop make repeated reference to his father as a possible recipient of funds derived from influence peddling. Indeed, in one email, Tony Bobulinski, then a business partner of Hunter, was instructed by Biden associate James Gilliar that the Bidens wanted to avoid such references: “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u [sic] are face to face, I know u [sic] know that but they are paranoid.”

In discussing these deals, Joe Biden is referenced with code names such as “Celtic” or “the big guy.” In one, “the big guy” is discussed as possibly receiving a 10% cut on a deal with a Chinese energy firm. There are also references to Hunter paying off the bills of his father from shared accounts. From his board memberships to venture deals to legal fees to his art deals, Hunter Biden is a tour de force of alleged corrupt practices used in Washington. Indeed, while his skills as a painter and a lawyer have been questioned, Hunter’s remarkable skills at influence peddling could soon be the focus of Washington.

The Beltway Bandits

One of the things that most worries the establishment is that these emails threaten to pull the curtain away from the influence-peddling cottage industry. The emails contain an array of children connected to powerful Democratic and Republican leaders. For example, one of Hunter’s closest associates was John Kerry’s stepson, Chris Heinz. Like Joe Biden, Kerry is also accused of falsely denying knowledge of his son’s business dealings. Even the late mobster James “Whitey” Bulger’s nephew, Jim Bulger, was a business associate of Hunter Biden. The Bulgers were a powerful Democratic family in Massachusetts.

Surrounding these well-connected children are an array of insiders tied to the very top of the Democratic and Republican parties. An array of lawyers and political operatives quickly formed around the kinder of the powerful to cash in on these foreign dealings. An investigation of Hunter Biden could not spotlight his conduct without putting a floodlight on all of those who support the influence-peddling industry. 

The Media

The media is the final group that could be collateral damage in any investigation. This influence peddling could not have occurred without the assurance that the media had the back of the Bidens. Imagine what the media would have done with even one of these deals with foreign political or influence figures if a Trump child was the recipient. The genius of the Biden influence peddling operation was to make the media an early and active participant. The media and social media companies almost universally buried the Hunter Biden scandal before the 2020 election. They became invested in the denial over two years of belittling or dismissing the story.

The disclosure of the corrupt practices linked to the Bidens will erode what little trust remains for the media. Figures like Bobulinski and the underlying emails were available to the media before the 2020 election. However, the media showed strikingly little interest in pursuing the facts of the influence peddling. Bobulinski and others will now presumably have a chance to be heard. 

Obviously, other groups are also worried about what sunshine will expose in this scandal. That includes the FBI which appears to have scuttled or slowed early efforts to investigate the Biden dealings. It also includes Attorney General Merrick Garland, who steadfastly refused to appoint a special counsel despite overwhelming support for such an appointment.

There is of course a difference between opening Hunter’s laptop as opposed to Pandora’s Box: few in the Beltway expected to find hope within its sorted contents.

Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org.


  • Jonathan Turley

    Professor Jonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals at Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, and other schools.

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