Democrats on Sunday sought to play down the ramifications in Washington from last week's indictment of Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden's son, while Republicans seized on the development.
In appearances on the Sunday public affairs show circuit, top Democrats noted the lack of firm evidence to back up Republicans' allegations that the president directly profited off of or influenced his son's business dealings while suggesting that the GOP is trying to distract from more important issues.
Hunter Biden was charged by federal prosecutors last week in Delaware for allegedly lying about his drug use when he bought a gun in 2018. Around that same time — as he later wrote extensively in his memoir — he was addicted to drugs.
He remains under investigation, prosecutors said in court this summer.
His attorney argued on "Good Morning America" on Friday that they believe the statute being used is "unconstitutional" in his case and the charges will be dismissed.
"Hunter Biden is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The matter is before a court of law right now. And let’s see how it proceeds," House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York said on ABC's "This Week."
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Asked by "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl about whether Jeffries agreed with Hunter Biden's attorneys that the charges wouldn't "have been brought if this was not the president’s son," Jeffries deflected.
"I think what’s more important is that President Joe Biden continues to lead us forward, to focus on the things that matter, to build an economy that works for everyday Americans that’s built from the middle out and the bottom up, and to lean into creating a situation where every single American in every single zip code can truly experience the American dream," he said.
Jeffries told Karl that "if anything the indictment indicates that, as President Biden and his administration have consistently said, there is no interaction between the president, the administration and the Department of Justice."
Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile conceded on "This Week" that "there's frustration" in Democratic circles over the latest indictment but cast the attention around it as fueled largely by Republicans looking to derail the White House.
GOP lawmakers have long been probing whether President Biden did anything illegal in connection with his son's business dealings, but no evidence has emerged of wrongdoing.
The president's aides have dismissed such suspicion as baseless partisanship.
Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del.Julio Cortez/AP, FILE
On Tuesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced House Republicans would launch an impeachment inquiry into the president.
When asked by reporters on Sunday about his response to the probe, President Biden said "lots of luck."
"They're looking to muddy the waters. The bottom line is, Democrats got to stay focused. Hunter Biden is not above the law. Like Donald Trump, he's innocent until proven guilty," Brazile said on "This Week."
Polling indicates a large number of voters agree with Republicans' line of attack. A Quinnipiac University survey earlier this month found that half of voters thought President Biden was involved in Hunter Biden’s business dealings with China and Ukraine, while 40% thought the president was not involved.
Thirty-five percent of voters in that poll believed the president was involved and did something illegal, while 13% believe he was involved and did something unethical but nothing illegal.
Republicans, meanwhile, have hammered Hunter Biden's charges while claiming the indictment he faces on the firearm offense lets the president off easy in light of their continued claims of other impropriety.
"This is the only charge that doesn’t affect Joe Biden," former President Donald Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to his own criminal charges, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This was the gun charge. But gun charges are very serious."
MORE: How Trump has pushed House Republicans to go after Biden: 'They did it to me'
Rep. Elise Stefanik, N.Y., a member of House GOP leadership, touted the recently announced impeachment inquiry into the president.
"I believe transparency and good governance is very, very important for any Congress," she said on "Fox News Sunday." "I believe that the Biden family, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, was deeply involved in this nexus."
Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said his old colleagues risk overplaying their hand, however.
"The Republicans have spent so much time talking about Hunter Biden this year, and they could have been talking about spending," he said on CNN, referencing the upcoming government funding deadline.