An armed protester who appeared outside President Biden’s Delaware home on Sunday appears to have been inspired by the efforts of congressional Republicans and other conservative groups to drum up scandal related to Hunter Biden.
The protester, who seemed to have a pistol holstered on his hip in the open carry state, held a sign that referred to various aspects of the right-wing investigations into the Biden family, including email aliases used when he was vice president which Republicans and conspiracists have tried to cite as proof of malfeasance in the absence of more concrete evidence.
“Joe has aliases?! Robert L. Peters, Robin Ware, JRN Ware,” the sign said.
Biden did indeed use email aliases while he was vice president during the administration of Barack Obama. The White House has confirmed he did this and described it as a security practice. One of the aliases was tied to a government domain, and the records were retained by the National Archives. Government officials including Obama have used obscure addresses to avoid hackers and spam.
However, unlike some of Trump’s allies who used email aliases while engaged in allegedly criminal schemes to overturn the 2020 election, after extensive investigations there is no evidence that Biden’s alternate emails were used in conjunction with illegality. Still, Republicans in Congress and conservative groups have repeatedly tried to point to the emails and dredge up more of them. Those efforts have helped the aliases attain totemic significance for some on the right including random Twitter users who have taken to replying to White House announcements and other political posts with the names as though they are making a coherent point.
The obsession with of Biden’s email aliases on the right has followed the larger Hunter Biden playbook, which involves trying to use the sordid personal and ethical issues of the president’s son to create scandal for the White House and some kind of false equivalency with Trump’s behavior. In the absence of real evidence of malfeasance by the president, elements of the Hunter Biden investigation including the simple existence of his hacked laptop have become standalone signifiers on the right. The other side of the protester’s sign pointed to the laptop and exaggerated interpretations of Hunter Biden’s emails that have become a staple of right-wing memes and partisan investigations.
“Bidens are criminals, 20 shell companies?! Where’s the laptop? 10% for the big guy,” the sign said.
While Republican efforts to paint Biden as operating a “crime family” may be lacking in substance, this incident makes clear they could have real-world and potentially dangerous consequences. The armed protester was observed and photographed by the Daily Mail’s Nikki Schwab, who was working in the White House press pool on Sunday. Schwab noted they were “walking down the road toward the Biden home” around noon and that a Secret Service vehicle was “following him down the road.” Approximately an hour later, Biden’s motorcade passed by the protester.
Delaware, where Biden has two homes, is an open carry state. In an initial statement on Sunday, the Secret Service alluded to the fact the protester did not seem to be violating any local laws.
“The individual expressing his constitutional rights had no impact on any of the Secret Service’s protectees’ movements,” the Secret Service said.
The White House referred questions Monday morning about the incident to the Secret Service. In response to an email from TPM asking if the protester was detained or questioned, Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi indicated the protest did not trigger protective measures and suggested law enforcement is aware of the protester’s identity.
“The individual was not of protective interest as he was outside of our protective zone,” Guglielmi said. “He is a member of the community who demonstrates regularly. “