NPR Reporter Rips Trump After Hunter Verdicts: ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Cheated’

Taxpayer-funded National Public Radio wasn’t hiding its partisan stripes on the day of the guilty verdicts for Hunter Biden. On The NPR Politics Podcast, NPR senior political correspondent Mara Liasson said there was “no evidence” of Hunter and the Bidens taking millions from foreign influence-peddling.

She said with Donald Trump, “all criticism is confession” when he complains about a weaponized Justice Department. She summarized his criticism as “Heads I win, tails, you cheated.”

The headline for the show came straight from the DNC messaging: 

Trump attacks the DOJ as “rigged.” It just convicted Hunter Biden of three felonies.

NPR White House correspondent Asma “I Love Kamala” Khalid turned to Liasson with the soft soap that “the president’s son has been through a series of personal trials since the death of his older brother Beau Biden” and it’s “no doubt weighing on President Biden himself.” Then Liasson threw out the obligatory points about Hunter talks to his dad every day, his brother died of brain cancer, and his mother and older sister died in a car crash when he was little, all the violins. The Bidens are “very close.” 

LIASSON: But Joe Biden has been very, very clear. As a father, he loves his son and supports him, but he also respects the judicial system. And he said he was going to accept the verdict no matter what it was, and he would not pardon his son if he was found guilty, which is a huge contrast, obviously, to Donald Trump, who has spent the last number of months trying to destroy people’s faith in the justice system and say that any verdict against him, including the 34 felony counts where he was found guilty, is a witch hunt and a political perversion of justice.

Then Khalid nudged Liasson to trash Trump some more: “Already, we’ve seen that the Trump campaign has put out a statement on this all.” Liasson spewed the preposterous line that there’s “no evidence” the Bidens have raked in millions from abroad: 

LIASSON: Yes. He put out a statement saying that this Hunter Biden trial is just a distraction, and he said there were actually big, real crimes from the, quote, “Biden crime family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine.” There’s no evidence of that. But it sounds like the Trump campaign understands that this guilty verdict for Hunter Biden is not going to be something that’s going to have a major effect on the campaign. So they’re intimating that there are worse crimes somewhere out there, but we still haven’t gotten any evidence of that.

One can argue the Biden influence-peddling is not a crime, but it’s just silly to say there’s “no evidence” of an influence-peddling mountain of millions.

Later, NPR Justice Department reporter Carrie Johnson — who often sounds like an unofficial publicist for Attorney General Merrick Garland, said the Republican charges that Team Biden “somehow colluded” with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg are “without evidence.” No mention of Matthew Colangelo going from the Biden DOJ to Bragg’s team of Trump prosecutors. 

As the show’s headline suggested, they made the point that Biden’s DOJ has also indicted Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Henry Cuellar in corruption probes. Khalid asked Liasson, “given the evidence, why do we continue to hear these sort of partisan-based attacks on the Justice Department?” Liasson argued Trump’s Justice Department was weaponized — no counterpoint of Trump’s DOJ appointing special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and emphasized Trump won’t allow an independent Justice Department if he wins again:

LIASSON: He has talked about taking revenge on his political enemies using the Justice Department to do that. So you could say that all criticism is confession. And this is exactly what he tried to do in the first term. He promises he’ll do it in the second term. And he is trying to destroy people’s faith in basic democratic institutions. That’s his modus operandi for free and fair elections. He doesn’t believe in the peaceful transfer of power. And the justice system – if it returns a verdict against him, it is, by definition, corrupt. It’s kind of like, heads I win, tails you cheated.

NPR is partially sponsored by your taxpayer dollars. Transcript below: 

The NPR Politics Podcast

June 11, 2024

ASMA KHALID: Mara, the president’s son has been through a series of personal trials since the death of his older brother, Beau Biden. This has all been, no doubt, weighing on President Biden himself. In fact, just a bit ago, we got word that he has headed himself back to Wilmington, where his son has been on trial.

MARA LIASSON: Yeah. Well, it’s clearly weighed on him. He has issued several statements throughout this trial, talking about his love for his son, his support for him, his admiration for how he’s dealt with his sobriety. And he reportedly talks to his son every single day on the phone. They’re very close. Of course, when Hunter was young, his mother died in a car crash that injured him and his little brother, killed his sister. So this is a family that has suffered a lot of tragedy. His older brother, Beau Biden, died from brain cancer. And this is a family that’s very close.

But Joe Biden has been very, very clear. As a father, he loves his son and supports him, but he also respects the judicial system. And he said he was going to accept the verdict no matter what it was, and he would not pardon his son if he was found guilty, which is a huge contrast, obviously, to Donald Trump, who has spent the last number of months trying to destroy people’s faith in the justice system and say that any verdict against him, including the 34 felony counts where he was found guilty, is a witch hunt and a political perversion of justice.

ASMA KHALID: Yeah. I want to talk more about the political ramifications, but let’s take a quick break, and we’ll be back in a moment. [Break]

And we’re back. And Mara, I want to ask you about the broader political campaign ramifications because, already, we’ve seen that the Trump campaign has put out a statement on this all.

MARA LIASSON: Yes. He put out a statement saying that this Hunter Biden trial is just a distraction, and he said there were actually big, real crimes from the, quote, “Biden crime family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine.” There’s no evidence of that. But it sounds like the Trump campaign understands that this guilty verdict for Hunter Biden is not going to be something that’s going to have a major effect on the campaign. So they’re intimating that there are worse crimes somewhere out there, but we still haven’t gotten any evidence of that.

ASMA KHALID: Carrie, the former president, Donald Trump, has alleged that the Justice Department has been weaponized against him. Do you see this trial as blunting any of that criticism?

CARRIE JOHNSON: Well, the facts are these. You know, this Justice Department has investigated the current president, Joe Biden – brought no charges – has investigated the former president, Donald Trump – two indictments pending against him in the federal system. This Justice Department has convicted now the son of President Biden, and yet I don’t think that’s going to make much difference in the political conversation.

MARA LIASSON: And what’s more than that, the Department of Justice has indicted two Democratic members of Congress, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas. It’s hard to – when the Trump campaign says, this Justice Department has been weaponized against Donald Trump, well, it sure seems to go after a lot of Democrats, too.

CARRIE JOHNSON: You know, it does. And the attorney general, Merrick Garland, is basically a soft-spoken guy. He’s a man of few words, right? We don’t hear him going out there and talking all the time. But in the last month or so, I’ve noticed a marked change in his demeanor and his willingness to try to get into this conversation because he thinks it’s wrong, and it’s dangerous to politicize the Justice Department. Threats are all the way up against prosecutors and federal agents and judges.

The attorney general has basically said there are these baseless conspiracy theories that DOJ is going after people because of their politics or their last name. He says there’s no evidence of that. And, in fact, the attorney general actually wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post today, saying that the people who are accusing the Justice Department of politicizing the justice system are themselves doing that to reach a desired partisan outcome.

And we should note, all of this is happening at the same time the Republican-led House of Representatives is considering contempt charges against Merrick Garland as early as tomorrow. This is over the Justice Department’s refusal to hand over audiotapes of President Biden’s interview with the special counsel, Robert Hur. DOJ has handed over the written transcripts, but people like James Comer and Jim Jordan – the leaders of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees – want those audiotapes.

The White House thinks they want them to make campaign ads for President Trump and against President Biden. Biden, of course, has asserted executive privilege over those tapes. Garland is not going to turn them over. And it’s quite possible that, by the end of the week, the attorney general will be cited in contempt of Congress over this whole issue. So the Justice Department, unfortunately, is right in the mix of politics in this election year, just as it was in 2020 and in 2016, and I don’t see a way out of that right now.

ASMA KHALID: You know, Mara, you were just describing that there were also a number of Democrats facing charges here. So given the evidence, why do we continue to hear these sort of partisan-based attacks on the Justice Department?

MARA LIASSON: Because it serves Donald Trump’s political purposes. Don’t forget he’s been talking about weaponizing the Justice Department for eight years. He tried to weaponize the Justice Department when he was the president. He asked his attorney general to open a lot of investigations into his political adversaries, and they did open the investigations. But grand juries wouldn’t indict them. There just wasn’t enough evidence. But he has also said that if he is the president again, the Department of Justice will no longer be a quasi-independent agency. It will work for him. He has talked about taking revenge on his political enemies using the Justice Department to do that.

So you could say that all criticism is confession. And this is exactly what he tried to do in the first term. He promises he’ll do it in the second term. And he is trying to destroy people’s faith in basic democratic institutions. That’s his modus operandi for free and fair elections. He doesn’t believe in the peaceful transfer of power. And the justice system – if it returns a verdict against him, it is, by definition, corrupt. It’s kind of like, heads I win, tails you cheated.

CARRIE JOHNSON: And speaking of conspiracy theories, Donald Trump and many of his allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have been arguing without evidence that the Justice Department somehow colluded with the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to bring the case that resulted in Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts in New York earlier this year. The Justice Department just sent a letter to House Republicans saying it scoured all the emails from the inauguration of Joe Biden onward, of senior department leaders – found no correspondence with the Manhattan district attorney about that case against Donald Trump. So there’s no evidence there either. But I don’t think we’ve heard the end of that talking point yet from the Trump campaign, either.

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