Former President Trump and Hunter Biden find themselves in separate legal battles with vastly different charges, yet both employ a common gambit — arguing their cases amount to unfair targeting.
Despite the contrasting nature of their prosecutions, Trump’s election interference charges and Biden’s failure to acknowledge drug use when buying a firearm, both men claim they have been selectively and vindictively prosecuted.
This unlikely parallel unfolds as they seek to have their cases dismissed.
Trump’s defense strategy: Battling prosecution on multiple fronts
For Trump, the assertion that his prosecution attempts to hinder his reelection prospects forms the core of his defense.
This claim resonates in the courtroom and on the campaign trail, where he positions himself as a victim of politically motivated legal actions.
The former president has filed a motion specifically in his election interference case, arguing immunity from prosecution as a former president.
Biden’s response: Pressure and change in prosecution decision
Hunter Biden, on the other hand, challenges the gun charges brought against him after a previous plea deal fell through.
His legal team contends that Special Counsel David Weiss succumbed to pressure from House Republicans investigating Biden’s ongoing case.
While acknowledging the rarity of success for such motions, Biden’s defense emphasizes the publicized nature of the case as evidence supporting their claim of selective and vindictive prosecution.
Challenges to prosecutorial discretion viewed as unlikely success
Legal experts view these motions as “hail mary” attempts, unlikely to find favor in the courts.
The longstanding practice of granting prosecutors discretion in choosing whom to prosecute poses a significant challenge for defendants raising such claims.
Jeff Robbins, a former federal prosecutor, notes the presumption in favor of prosecutorial discretion, making it an uphill battle for those challenging their cases for unfair targeting.
Selective prosecution involved demonstrating unfair targeting
Selective prosecution claims typically involve arguments of unfair targeting based on race, religion, or speech.
To succeed, defendants must show remarkably similar circumstances among different defendants, where the prosecution has pursued one group and not another.
Robbins points out the difficulty in meeting this burden, emphasizing the need to prove an apparent and unfair discrepancy in treating similar cases.
Vindictive prosecution: Retaliation against constitutional rights
Vindictive prosecution requires a showing that the government is retaliating against a defendant for exercising constitutional rights.
Mary McCord, a former top Justice Department official, explains that this could involve increasing the severity of charges in response to a defendant’s actions.
Trump’s argument revolves around the vindictive nature of the charges, citing his exercise of constitutional rights and decision to run for political office.
Challenges in success: Historical precedents and review process
While there have been instances where such motions achieved initial wins, success typically triggers a more thorough review, including the exchange of discovery to vet the claims further.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of anti-abortion activists protesting alongside Black Lives Matter protesters serves as an example.
However, legal experts express skepticism about the viability of Trump’s selective prosecution motion, given the unique nature of his case.
Trump and Hunter Biden fight legal battles over targeting claims
Prosecutors in Trump’s case have vigorously denied improper targeting, asserting that the charges are not an effort to hinder his electoral prospects.
They mock Trump’s reliance on historical episodes and argue that he has failed to identify a similarly situated person.
Hunter Biden’s case awaits a response from prosecutors, leaving the outcome of his claims uncertain.
As these legal battles unfold, the debate over unfair targeting underscores the complexities of Trump’s and Biden’s legal challenges.