As US voters decide next year on who will occupy the White House from early 2025, both the son of the current president and the likely Republican candidate are facing criminal prosecution.
Former president Donald Trump will spend a significant part of the months ahead in and out of courts rather than on the campaign trail. On Monday he is scheduled to give evidence in New York in the civil fraud trial that could undermine his business operation in the city.
As early as next week Republicans in the House of Representatives may launch a full impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. For some time they have been investigating the president over alleged links to his son’s business activities – claims the White House argues are without foundation.
Republicans accuse the president and his family of improperly profiting from policy decisions in which Biden was involved when he was vice-president. They have also accused the Department of Justice of inappropriately interfering with an investigation into Hunter Biden, which it denies.
A proposed plea deal that would have seen Hunter Biden essentially get a slap on the wrist, collapsed several months ago.
Since then his legal situation has become more perilous. In September, he was indicted in Delaware on charges stemming from his illegal purchase of a handgun in 2018, a period when he used drugs heavily and was prohibited from owning a firearm.
On Thursday a federal grand jury indicted him on tax charges that could see him face up to 17 years in prison. The allegations contained many lurid details which will undoubtedly be thrown around during the presidential campaign.
Prosecutors claim Hunter Biden “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million [€1.3 million] in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019”.
They claimed he spent the money on “drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes”.
In a podcast released on Friday Hunter Biden claimed attacks on him by Republicans were actually aimed at destroying his father’s presidency. In a conversation with musician Moby he suggested the criticism was intended to make him relapse in his battle against addiction.
“They are trying to, in their most illegitimate way, but rational way, they’re trying to destroy a presidency,” he said.
“And so it’s not about me, and [in] their most base way, what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to kill me, knowing that it will be a pain greater than my father could be able to handle.”