President Trump should be careful not to overreach in Thursday night’s debate when he attacks Joe Biden over the content of son Hunter’s abandoned laptop.
The target must be the former vice president and the extent to which he benefited from his family’s cash-for-influence schemes, as documented in e-mails and other material on the laptop.
If the subject becomes Hunter, then, just as he did in the first debate, Joe will go for the sympathy vote for his 50-year-old drug-plagued son, and sympathy aplenty is in order.
“My son, like a lot of people at home, had a drug problem,” Joe said, earnestly looking down the barrel of the camera after Trump brought up Hunter’s multimillion-dollar earnings from China, Ukraine and Russia.
“He’s overtaking it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him, I’m proud of my son.”
It was an effective diversion and at that point moderator Chris Wallace changed the topic.
It’s not likely Joe will be any more forthcoming about Hunter’s overseas business deals this time.
You can bet the Biden campaign has war-gamed the response. They will be banking on the president going too far, and they will be ready to play on the emotions of the audience to focus attention on the love of a father for his troubled son.
Tragedy and empathy already are twin themes in Joe’s campaign pitch, and the ravages of addiction on his family will strike a chord with others similarly afflicted.
Hunter is an object of pity, a lost soul whose life has been marked by tragedy since he lost his mother Neilia and little sister Naomi in a car accident before he was 3 years old.
He and older brother Beau were injured, and Joe famously was sworn in as a US Senator in their hospital room. The former VP uses the heart-tugging images in his campaign material.
Joe continued with his fledgling political career, and his two little boys were brought up by his parents and sister in Wilmington, Del., with Joe commuting to and from Washington, DC.
In a poignant interview with The New Yorker last July, Hunter said he and Beau were “communal property . . . Everyone had a hand in raising us.”
Tragedy struck again in 2015 when Beau, who served as Delaware attorney general, died of a brain tumor at age 46.
The following year, Hunter left his wife, Kathleen, and their three children and embarked on a tempestuous relationship with Beau’s widow, Hallie.
By the time he abandoned his laptop at a Mac repair shop in Delaware last year, Hunter’s life was a chronic mess.
He had recently broken up with Hallie and moved out of the house they shared in Wilmington.
He had a weakness for crack cocaine and had been in and out of rehab at least six times.
In February 2014, he had been thrown out of a cushy public-relations job in the Navy Reserve, after just eight months, after testing positive to cocaine.
Two months later he turned up on the board of the corrupt Ukrainian energy company Burisma, making up to $83,000 a month despite having no discernible skills for the role.
But by last April the Burisma money had dried up. He had been forced to quit the board because of publicity damaging to his father’s electoral ambitions, and debts of more than $500,000.
A Freudian reading of Hunter’s abandonment of his laptop, containing evidence that would incriminate his father, is that he subconsciously was sabotaging Joe.
After all, Hunter took in the liquid-damaged MacBook for repair on April 19, last year, six days before Joe formally announced his candidacy.
In text messages with his father before the announcement, Hunter bitterly complains about a Maureen Dowd column in the New York Times describing Hunter as “the troubled Hunter” and an impediment to Joe’s decision to run.
“Having made clear to the world that the only reason for not running is your family problems I’m glad to be the f–king bullseye you painted on my back.”
But the point is not that Hunter has demons. You don’t need his laptop computer to see that.
The point is that Joe involved him in the family business of monetizing the Biden name.
Since The Post started publishing damning e-mails from Hunter’s laptop linking Joe to his family’s cash-for-influence scheme, the former VP has refused to answer questions.
When a local TV reporter in Wisconsin this week asked him about the scandal, he dismissed it as “the same garbage [from] Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s henchman. It’s a last-ditch effort in this desperate campaign to smear me and my family.”
But evidence from Hunter’s laptop suggests there’s more to it.
For instance, a May 13, 2017, e-mail lists shares of a lucrative Chinese deal in which Hunter reserves a 10 percent stake for “the big guy.”
Fox News has confirmed that “the big guy” is Joe.
In a text message to his daughter, Naomi on Jan. 3, 2019, Hunter writes: “don’t worry unlike Pop I won’t make you give me half your salary.”
Hunter himself has admitted, in an ABC interview last October, that if his last name were not Biden, he “probably” would not have been offered the Burisma board position or much else.
“I don’t think that there’s a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden.”
All of it was made possible by Joe, who flew Hunter to China on Air Force 2 in 2013 and introduced him to high-ranking Chinese Communist Party members.
The money on offer was eyewatering. In one case, Hunter charged $10 million for “introductions alone” to a Chinese businessman.
For any addict, easy access to enormous sums of money with very little work to do to earn it would be a disaster.
You have to wonder why Joe placed his fragile only son in harm’s way.
But that is not for Trump to ask.
The question is: What were these shady foreigners paying for? What was the quid pro quo?
America would like to know.
California dream on
The @nypost twitter account might have been locked for six days, but our Hunter Biden story drew 2.6 million sets of eyeballs and was the top story about the election last week on Facebook and Twitter, despite their censorship efforts.
Yet efforts to discredit the story continue. One myth doing the rounds is that Hunter could not have dropped his MacBook for repair in Delaware on April 19, 2019 because he lives in California.
But evidence points to his being in Delaware at the time. He had been in a relationship with his brother’s widow, Hallie Biden, since 2016 and lived with her in his father’s hometown of Wilmington. Material on his laptop shows him in Delaware as late as March 15, 2019, although he and Hallie appeared to have split by then, and she had blocked him on her phone.
In May 2019, he married Melissa Cohen, a 32-year-old South African filmmaker, 10 days after they met.
In June 2019 he reportedly moved into a $12,000-per-month house in the Hollywood Hills.
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