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Lincoln's pardon of Biden’s great-great-grandfather draws comparison to current family legal trouble

Biden's great-great-grandfather was convicted of becoming intoxicated, inciting a quarrel and violating military discipline.

Published: February 25, 2024 11:33am

President Abraham Lincoln's pardon of President Joe Biden's great-great-grandfather, Moses Robinette, is drawing comparisons to the first family's current legal struggles. 

"The Bidens have shown a legendary skill at evading legal accountability. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, Biden family members often marshal political allies and media to kill investigations or cut sweetheart deals," George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley wrote Saturday in a column for The Hill. 

Turley's comments come after George Mason University historian David Gerleman wrote an article for The Washington Post last week detailing how Lincoln pardoned Robinette, a civilian veterinary surgeon for the Union Army.

Robinette was charged with becoming intoxicated, inciting a quarrel, violating military discipline and attempted murder after he left fellow civilian employee John Alexander bleeding from knife wounds in a fight. He was convicted on all counts except for attempted murder and was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labor on a remote island near Florida. 

Robinette's friends asked West Virginia Republican Sen. Waitman T. Willey to urge Lincoln to issue a pardon, which the president granted on Sept. 1, 1864.

"Whatever the true merits, it showed the importance of having friends in high places. Or, as the president once put it more bluntly, 'No one f**ks with a Biden.' It is family scripture that runs from Moses to James to Joseph," Turley wrote.

Between Biden's ability to avoid charges for willfully retaining classified material and the media's dismissal of first son Hunter Biden's laptop, among other things, Turley said: "After generations, the Bidens are still showing the same nimble qualities of great-great-granddad Moses."

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