The convergence of law and politics is a common occurrence in Washington. While law is used to ascertain truth, politics is often used to obscure it.
That is why the truth is rarely evident in looking at a scandal straight on. Rather it requires peripheral vision or analysis – often what is not evident is what is most enlightening.
This most famous example of such reasoning was found in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “Silver Blaze,” on Sherlock Holmes’s investigation of the disappearance of a racehorse.
The local inspector asked if there was “any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes responds, “To the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.”
When the inspector objects, “The dog did nothing in the night-time,” Holmes replies, “That was the curious incident.”
There is always something a tad curious of Washington legal scandals in what has not occurred. That is why the latest Hunter Biden scandal is so curious.
When the story broke in the New York Post, the Biden campaign was faced with thousands of emails that purportedly showed clear support for allegations that Hunter Biden was given millions as part of an influence-peddling scheme related to his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden.
There was ample reason to be skeptical about the sketchy account of a computer being left by Hunter Biden at a computer store with a man who cannot see beyond a couple of feet. And then there is the timing of disclosure just weeks before an election.
The problem was the absence of "barks" from the Biden camp. The computer files revealed a host of embarrassing pictures of Hunter Biden using drugs or exposed in other embarrassing ways. The emails contain dates and addresses that match up with confirmed records.
If they are fabricated, there were three barks that we would have expected within hours of the release.
Bark 1: This was not Hunter Biden’s computer
The most obvious response would be that this is not the computer of Hunter Biden. After all, the computer store owner John Paul Mac Isaac who is legally blind said that he could not recognize the person who dropped off the laptop.
However, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has now stated, as a fact, that “the laptop was left by Hunter Biden, in an inebriated, heavily inebriated state with the merchant.” That does not purport with what Isaac said.
However, there remains the question of a laptop with a “Beau Biden Foundation” sticker on it with highly incriminating files.
Someone in the campaign must have called Hunter Biden and he had to have told them whether or not it was his laptop.
The response on ownership has been crickets for days.
Bark 2: These were not Hunter Biden’s photos or emails
Even if the campaign cannot deny that the computer was Hunter Biden’s, it could deny that these incriminating pictures and emails were his.
Note that if these are fabricated emails or pictures, this would be a serious federal crime and the basis for legal action.
The Biden camp has no shortage of lawyers. Indeed, they have been signing up lawyers in droves in preparation for election challenges.
Yet, there is not a single allegation of fraud or fabrication after days of a brewing scandal.
Bark 3: This is defamation
Perhaps this bark is the most telling. If these emails or pictures are fabricated, it is a clear case of defamation and other tort actions.
It would seem that one of the hundreds of lawyers currently lined up by the Biden campaign would fire off an "intent to sue" letter.
Truth is a defense to defamation, so the letter might start with the earlier bark and deny that this was Hunter Biden’s computer and these were Hunter Biden’s file.
One big difference between the legal and political worlds is that in the latter there is no protection for the right to remain silent. In politics, scandals can be managed but not silently.
Instead of these obvious barks, the public heard something closer to a whimper: that the campaign could not find any notation on Vice President Biden's official schedule that he met with a Ukrainian figure connected to the payments to his son Hunter Biden.
It would be a curious sight in itself for Biden’s official schedule to include “meeting with Ukrainian connected to Hunter.” Many meetings are not part of an official schedule that staffers know is subject to official records laws for preservation and review.
That is what is so curious about the Hunter Biden story and, to move from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Lewis Carroll, it is becoming “curiouser and curiouser.”