Evslin: Whataboutism doesn’t excuse anyone

Giving Hunter Biden a get-out-of-jail-free card will taint the convictions(s) which may rid us of Donald Trump.


by Tom Evslin

Hard as it is to say, both Biden and Trump are entitled to presumptions of innocence even though neither deserve them. If one or the other of them should be exonerated, it doesn’t make the other one any less guilty. Trump’s alleged crimes as president are much more serious than Hunter Biden’s clear venality. It’s one thing for Hunter to profit from being the Vice President’s son; it is unacceptable for him to escape prosecution because his father is now President.

The majority of Republicans who believe that the 2020 election was stolen are no more idiots than the Democrats who believed that the Russians bought the 2016 election for Trump on Facebook. Neither group can accept that a result they regard as abhorrent was legitimate. If Trump is convicted of a serious crime or sentenced to prison and Hunter Biden gets a walk in the park and/or if Joe Biden’s unconvincing claims that he didn’t know what his son was doing escape scrutiny, Trump loyalists will be confirmed in their view that the deck is stacked against them and the man who is their Trumpenfinger raised to the establishment. It will be very hard for the partisan wounds to heal.

Justice Department Credibility

Jack Goldsmith writes in The New York Times:

“Mr. Smith’s indictment outlines a factually compelling but far from legally airtight case against Mr. Trump. The case involves novel applications of three criminal laws and raises tricky issues of Mr. Trump’s intent, his freedom of speech and the contours of presidential power. If the prosecution fails (especially if the trial concludes after a general election that Mr. Trump loses), it will be a historic disaster…

“There is no getting around the fact that the indictment comes from the Biden administration when Mr. Trump holds a formidable lead in the polls to secure the Republican Party nomination and is running neck and neck with Mr. Biden, the Democratic Party’s probable nominee.

“This deeply unfortunate timing looks political and has potent political implications even if it is not driven by partisan motivations….

“And then there is the perceived unfairness in the department’s treatment of Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, in which the department has once again violated the cardinal principle of avoiding any appearance of untoward behavior in a politically sensitive investigation. Credible whistle-blowers have alleged wrongdoing and bias in the investigation, though the Trump-appointed prosecutor denies it. And the department’s plea arrangement with Hunter Biden came apart, in ways that fanned suspicions of a sweetheart deal, in response to a few simple questions by a federal judge.”

None of the above makes Trump innocent or excuses him. All of the above will give Trump supporters a reason to discount a guilty verdict, especially if the Justice Department does not do a credible job of prosecuting Hunter Biden now that a judge has saved the department from its initial ill-advised plea deal.

Special prosecutors notwithstanding, it is the responsibility of Attorney General Merrick Garland both to make sure that the charges against Trump are substantive and the Hunter Biden is vigorously prosecuted. If he feels he can’t do this job, he should resign rather than evade responsibility. [Update: Apparently Garland has come to feel the same way; since this post was written, he announced that he was updating the status of the US Attorney investigating Hunter Biden to Special Counsel and that negotiations for a plea deal have ended.]

Press Credibility

Reporters talk about their duty to “save democracy”, which is often code for making sure that we don’t get Trump 2.0. Donald Redux would be a disaster, but a press which sacrifices credibility to partisanship is a clear and present danger. The media suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story was a disgrace as was Fox parroting false election narratives. We deserve to know what evidence was hidden by whom on whose orders at Mar-a-Lago. We also need to know what people in the Obama administration said when they learned that Biden’s son was working for a company being prosecuted in Ukraine by a prosecutor whom Joe Biden – the Obama point man on corruption in Ukraine – was trying to get fired.

It won’t matter to diehard Trump supporters what the NYT or WaPo says and it won’t matter to diehard antiTrumpers what Fox says. The rest of us will be able to live somewhat easier with whatever verdicts are reached if our favorite outlets deliver something better than confirmation bias for their most extreme viewers. [Update: The NYT has published another oped, this one by David Leonhardt, explaining why the Hunter Biden case is significant.]

Supreme Court Credibility

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, the Supreme Court including its three Trump appointees gave no aid or comfort to Trump’s claims that the election was stolen or his attempts to overturn it. There is no reason to suspect that any of the justices will abandon their concepts of the law and constitution to protect Trump or Biden. However, as the NYT column above says, at least some of the charges against Trump are “far from legally airtight”. Probably every President with the possible exception of honest George Washington lied to the public from time to time and did so for political reasons. Trump hasn’t been charged directly with exciting a riot or insurrection (even though that is what I think I saw him do on January 6). Presumably the prosecutor has reasons to think he can’t make these charges stick. Obstruction of justice is a crime beyond a doubt; misuse of classified information can be. Trump may yet be indicted for attempted election tampering in Georgia and that may be a solid crime.

Just to complicate the whataboutism further, even though it is illegal under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for a US company to hire a relative of a foreign official into a job they are not qualified for, it is not illegal for a relative of a US official to solicit or accept such a job from a foreign company. If Hunter Biden, on the other hand, actually did what his employers hoped for and influenced US policy, he is guilty of being an unregistered foreign agent. If he did nothing, he may be legally innocent.

It will be easier for the American Public to accept a lack of conviction by a jury than exoneration by the Supreme Court after conviction. There is not much the Court can do to protect itself from the suspicion of prejudice. Again it falls on the Justice Department (and/or the Georgia prosecutor) to bring cases which are legally unimpeachable.

Other Politicians

Shame on them. Nancy Pelosi delayed impeaching Trump after January 6th, I suspect for partisan reasons. The House should’ve returned articles of impeachment as soon as it came out of hiding in the capitol basement. Republicans should have voted for impeachment based on the President’s clear failure to attempt to stop the attack on the capitol if nothing else. Impeachment, particularly bipartisan impeachment, would’ve spared us our current agony. If there were no Trump candidacy, Democrats might even be convinced to nominate someone better than a senile Joe Biden.

Republicans including those who want to be president themselves should be condemning Trump’s actions and inactions. Democrats should be encouraging a thorough investigation of Hunter Biden rather than hiding behind the excuse that this might help Trump. Neither is happening. Neither party’s cowardice excuses the cowardice of the other (although, in this case, I think the Republican cowardice is more consequential and worse).

You and me

Let’s be open-minded as the cases progress. Let’s remember that neither man’s action is excused by the other. And let’s hope that justice is blind to privilege without being blind to evil. A huge number of our fellow citizens will be disappointed no matter which way both cases turn out. If we are among the disappointed, we still have a voice at the ballot box. Even if we are happy with the verdict(s), we must remember that our disappointed fellow citizens are still entitled to both a voice and a vote. I’ll feel best if both men are solidly convicted.

The author, an author, entrepreneur, former Vermont state cabinet officer, lives in Stowe. He founded NG Advantage, a natural gas truck delivery company. This commentary is republished with permission from his blog, Fractals of Change.

19 replies »

  1. We shouldn’t even have to dignify this article, I don’t know how the editors allowed it to be published.

    There’s been zero absolutely zero indictments of former presidents ever, even considering the things that they’ve done, certainly more than standing in a stage exercising free speech

    This is an absolute witch hunt and disgraceful. And if you think that it’s only done because it’s Trump, you’re out of your mind. They can do this to any one, and if you paid any attention at all they have been. That’s the problem.

    At no point in time did Trump stop the peaceful transition of power as they call it. In fact, I’d say he allowed it when he had an awful lot of pull to make sure that it wasn’t peaceful.
    The FBI absolutely instigated this and pretended that it’s Trump. The Democrats piece mealed footage together lying about the whole thing and people have been incarcerated in unspeakable 3rd world conditions awaiting trial because of it far outside the Constitution.

    The FBI and the DOJ have been weaponized against a former president and therefore against the people, and have colluded with the media to decieve the American people.

    You can sugar coat it and say it whatever way you want. The government is attacking its own. Meanwhile, we’re headed into world war III. They want to take away our sovereignty through the power of money. They falsified a pandemic, locked everyone in their homes, jabbed everybody with an experimental drug, stole an election, and our national death rate is up 30 so% over normal.


    And all the opposition wants is for us to tear apart our own government so we’re stuck in a catch. 22

    You speak about keeping an open mind and yet you’re entirely closed off to anything that’s actually happening and in complete utter denial.

    There’s whataboutism and then there’s stupidity. I’ll let you guess which category I think you fall into Evslin.

    • I disagree with Brian that the editors of the Vermont Chronicle should not have allowed this article to be published. I commend them. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to be informed and yes entertained by the stupidity of Tom Eslin and “Fractures of Change”.
      Ok, lets concede to Tom’s point that the election was not stolen. It does not change the fact that states changed their election laws in the middle of an election without those laws being changed by those states’ legislatures changing the law as prescribed by the Constitution. if the Constitution was violated then the elections in those states were illegal. That means every other state that followed the Constitution were disenfranchised. Mike Pence could have sent all that back to the states, but he didn’t. And if he couldn’t why was the Electoral Count Act changed in the last Omnibus bill to clarify the Vice President’s roll is only ‘ceremonial’ and that they can’t send fraudulent votes back to the states for review. Because he could but he wouldn’t. That’s why Pence is polling at 3%. He needs help and Tom should send him a big fat donation. MAGA

      • You’re right I retract that portion of my statement.
        I just get sick while reading the articles that Tom puts out.

  2. Wow, what a well thought through commentary!

    I appreciate Mr. Evslin’s thoughts on attempting to put a balance searching for truth somewhere in this morass we see before us. Unfortunately, regardless of what he has written there will be those- on both sides -who will feel slighted as their truth has not been presented to their advantage. Regardless, we can only hope – I know it is perhaps a large hope-that there remains enough people of conscience who will hold steady and allow the nation to be presented the non politicized, non fractional search for justice. I fear, regardless the findings, the current climate will not accept the outcome.

    We are a better people than the fractional divisiveness presented to us daily. If not, we should aspire to be. One would think in a nation of over 300 million people we would have a leader( or group of leadership ) who can gel this and move for the betterment of the nation and not in a partisan manner.

    I am glad Evslin’s commentary was here providing an opportunity to put balance in what we have before us.

  3. Let’s get one thing straight. This is in no way a whataboutism, It is about a two tier justice system. Much like so many Lifetime( let’s also include many Law and Order episodes) movies where the perp gets away with it because he is the*( Fill in the blank) of some politician and gets to skate. If any “not connected” person did any of what Hunter did they would be in jail NOW.

    For Trump, please list a real crime.

    Let’s look at Eric Holder as another example, never pardoned, never charged with contempt of congress and walked away from lying to our face like it was just OKAY.

    I am so sorry that I read this. I expected better from the paper. For shame. No, you had a choice, you should have just had this authored by the Onion or Bananas. I had to read it twice to be sure I was actually seeing this level of cognitive dissonance in this author. The author is delusional and a perfect example of the ignorant who are the supposed “learned” people telling us how we should think. I now see again how this man failed our state as just a simple citizen. I feel I lost IQ points by reading this.
    Or is this an example of what the “normies” think and why this state is in such bad shape. IDK you decide. But please, please don’t believe this drivel. Oh and to VTlaxer75, I do agree that it provides but not balance it puts forth the premise that Hunter is or could be innocent and Trump is the scum of the earth. So pull up your pants your liberalism is showing and the kids may see it. For shame.

  4. What a crock of manure. And foul manure at that. I would never use that tripe to fertilize my weeds much less anything else. It should be treated as hazardous waste.
    “Let’s be open-minded as the cases progress.” Well, you are sure making the case for that…NOT.
    I don’t know who you are Mr. Evslin, but open-minded you are decidedly not. Your bias stinks up this article so profoundly that we can smell you a mile away.
    Utter bunk. I know VDC will put up an article so we have the opportunity to see diverse viewpoints, but this was a complete waste of “space”. Good thing VDC isn’t a print paper as that would have been criminal wasting of trees and ink. There are so many stupid things in this article that it would take me all day to logically dismantle it.
    So, I’m off to air out my nostrils from the stench of this nonsense. Peeewwww.

  5. Thank you VT Daily Chronicle for abiding by our free speech rights.
    Now it’s my turn, right?

    Mr. Evslin has written his piece, most decidedly, from his personally promoted propaganda reiterations. His piece is no more than the repetition of the deliberately mind numbing nonsense of the Main Stream Media. He has (obviously) chosen to ignore the videos that have finally made their way out showing Trump asking people to “peacefully protest”.

    Why were those videos initially withheld from the public?

    Mr. Evslin has displayed for us the incredible Normie CHOICE to believe and uphold lies, regurgitating them with the typical hubris of TDS.

    Mr. Evslin insists we should consider the Normie’s side, and yet obviously feels justified in ideologically flagellating those with a different opinion. And he doesn’t get it.

    Mr. Evslin has told us to speak out with our “vote”. He obviously doesn’t know (doesn’t CARE to know?) that it’s already coming out that We-The-People haven’t had our legitimate votes counted in 40 years. Along with that sentiment, let me add that Vt politicians MADE A LAW to force We-The-People to “vote” via machines. Nobody asked ME about those machines, did they ask YOU??? And as a side note, if voting in VT has really been free and fair, why is VT one state out of only 4 that have refused to do an audit. Forty-six states did their audits and EVERY SINGLE ONE have acknowledged election fraud.

    Afraid, VT legislators?

    Mr. Evslin has a substantial monetary stake in the current regime. He, at one time,worked in the VT legislature, collecting a sizeable check paid for by ME. Now he’s making money in the whole Canada gas scheme. And who’s paying for THAT rape? ME.

    I’ve been hearing for years now that people like me must LOVE the Normies through this. They just need to WAKE UP. WE just need to be supportive, hold their hand through this “awakening” process. I have been waiting for YEARS, and I can tell you that when I go to the grocery store only to be met with mask wearers who give ME a dirty look b/c my face is free and able to breathe, I’m fed up. Their REFUSAL to face the truth has cost ME dearly.

    In Jeremiah, chapter 8, God clearly states that “scoffers” make a choice. For that choice they will be faced with Divine consequences. Refusing to acknowledge EVIL, to even play a part in it, WILL result in God given consequences.

    Mr. Evslin, please be as open minded as you claim to be and make the effort to find alternative reporting that, more often than not, provides facts and documentation to back up their claims. Not doctored videos and blatant lies.

    (mike drop)

  6. Muskegon, Michigan October 2020 – fraud found, reported to authorities, covered up by guess who? District of Corruption former Police Chief drops dimes on January 6th – he tried to do the right thing…guess who covered it up? Maui, HI – the mansions of the elite towering above the serfs are standing without a scorch mark. Yet, everything down below decimated? No emergency alerts? Odd, there were three particular type of perps arrested a year prior for attempted arson. The crow to be eaten is ready for consumption. Yet those with the most, who stand the most to lose, continue to gaslight themselves and anyone else choosing to swallow the propaganda that covers up prolific criminal conduct. The hour of decision is now. Willfully and knowingly ignoring facts and evidence makes a person complicit and in some cases, a co-conspirator. Felonies of the highest degree. Those guilty of it and assisting in covering it all up need to be put to death – I said it and I mean it. There is no other penalty other than death to send a message that destroying lives and livliehoods will not be tolerated or forgotten. We will take all the assets as well.

  7. Mr Evslin wrote above:

    “The majority of Republicans who believe that the 2020 election was stolen are no more idiots than the Democrats who believed that the Russians bought the 2016 election for Trump on Facebook.”

    Dave Searles responds: I don’t find it helpful in political discussions to refer to anyone as being an idiot. It is a horrible term not too long ago, used even by mental health professionals in describing certain individuals with intellectual disabilities. That said, there seems a bit of a resort to a false equivalency in the statement.

    This is from a recent online news article that seems to be the prevalent view:

    Among those 69 percent of Republican-leaning voters who expressed skepticism about the 2020 election, 39 percent said they believed there was solid evidence proving it was illegitimate. The other 30 percent simply said they had a suspicion that something was afoul. Another 29 percent of GOP-leaning voters believed that Biden’s win was legitimate. Daily Mail 8/14/23

    Forget about the U.S. Justice Department for a moment – of all the state and county prosecutors in the country who could have mounted grand jury investigations into election fraud – how many grand juries across the whole country have returned an indictment concerning 2020 election fraud?

    OK, let’s go back to the US Justice Department. In 2018 (while Donald Trump was president) a federal grand jury found illegal interference by Russia into the 2016 presidential election, returning an array of indictments. This is what the US Justice Department through the FBI reported (again, while Donald Trump was president):

    On July 13, 2018, a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia returned an indictment against 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their alleged roles in interfering with the 2016 United States (U.S.) elections. The indictment charges 11 defendants, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, and Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, with a computer hacking conspiracy involving gaining unauthorized access into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, stealing documents from those computers, and staging releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The indictment also charges these defendants with aggravated identity theft, false registration of a domain name, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Two defendants, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, are charged with a separate conspiracy to commit computer crimes, relating to hacking into the computers of U.S. persons and entities responsible for the administration of 2016 U.S. elections, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and U.S. companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of U.S. elections. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. issued a federal arrest warrant for Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin upon the grand jury’s return of the indictment.

  8. “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

    This is one of the few articles that I have read on this site that does not resort to the nasty, smug, one-sided, name-calling, conspiracy-laden garbage that is purposely offered up here as as chum for a feeding frenzy.

    The facts were simply presented without malice or prejudice.

    • “…facts were simply presented without malice or prejudice.” – really?

      “Nancy Pelosi delayed impeaching Trump after January 6th, I suspect for partisan reasons. The House should’ve returned articles of impeachment as soon as it came out of hiding in the capitol basement. Republicans should have voted for impeachment based on the President’s clear failure to attempt to stop the attack on the capitol if nothing else. Impeachment, particularly bipartisan impeachment, would’ve spared us our current agony. If there were no Trump candidacy, Democrats might even be convinced to nominate someone better than a senile Joe Biden.”

      JD strikes again.

      • The first impeachment of Trump was also unconstitutional. They had no impeachment inquiry which is supposed to happen before charges are made. Then they took it out of the Judiciary Commitee and held it in the Intelligence Commitee. The Constitution prescribes all impeachments to be held by the Judiciary Committee. Then the Commiecrats deceived, inveigled and obfuscated their way to the Senate where they knew they could not get a conviction, but did the damage they wanted to do. Now the Jan.6 Committee conveniently deletes all most of its records after being told by the incoming House to preserve them. (See Tucker interview with Steven Sohn ex Capitol Chief of Police) JD strikes again? No! JD misses again. JD is a troll trying to convince all the stoopid people he can of his warped vision of government. His comments can be more convincing on Front Porch Forum or the VT Digger but not here.

    • Except that the facts are intentionally ommitted and biased. Like the fact that Clinton paid to have the original Russian Collision Dossier created and distributed as well as the fact that Trump requested the National Guard days before Jan 6, to be at the Capitol. His request was conveniently denied. I am sure you didn’t see the video of Trump supporters being waved into the door as Capital Police told people the building was open. I have no issue with truth. If people broke the law they should be held accountable. Anita was also there that day, specially John Sullivan, he walked through part of the building and broke windows with a crow bar. I read the court document. I really do not like your smug virtue signalling, a practice that I have seen you display before. I don’t need to say anything hateful or nasty about your character, as you already did so.

      • Yes Christine, I hope you get to watch the 55-minute interview of Steven Sohn and you’ll know why the Jan 6 Committee deleted their records.

  9. Actually, Im thinking we should be thanking JayDee for reminding us of what we are fighting against.

  10. This is the same guy who pushed for everyone to get the bioweapon jab as he hid under his bed so afraid of what his media buddies were saying. He has no credibility at all until he proclaims and apologizes for the fear he struck in other people about his fear of Covid. Seems I remember something about the unvaccinated being blamed for the fake spread of the lab made flu. How easily we forget about those who filled us all full of lies and induced fear. He was one of them and was a former government employee in the Douglas administration I believe. This is another word salad by Evslin to make him think he’s still relevant.

  11. The election came down to less than a hundred thousand votes. There is more than enough fraud to account for this, if you bother to look. From orchestrated to grassroots- theft by a multitude of frauds. Absolutely no question. Perhaps Evslin should start with Time Magazine’s article featuring the likes of Norm Eisen, who literally wrote the book on color revolutions, and bragged about pulling one off right here at home.

  12. I’m going to be writing in this MOFO’s name even if he isn’t the nominee, and everyone else disagreeing with this article also should.
    I prefer this MOFO over anyone else running for POTUS, this election, last election, and every POTUS election going back to 1964 when we as a people were humongously F’d over by the war machine in the USA… the same war machine that threw two atomic bombs on a nation that was already done with the war, and Eisenhower even said so.
    And I am not a Lefty while saying this. But I am also not into corporate politics. So, both major parties can go shove it and rotate. I ain’t voting for any of their mannequins ever again.