Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, is set to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanours and has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to resolve a felony gun charge, according to the Justice Department’s court filings on Tuesday.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the Justice Department will recommend probation as the sentence for the two counts of failing to pay taxes on time for the years 2017 and 2018. Sources reveal that Hunter Biden owed a minimum of $100,000 in federal taxes for both years but failed to meet the deadlines for payment to the Internal Revenue Service.
The final decision on the sentence will be up to the judge overseeing the case.
Trump indictment vs. Hunter Biden plea deal
This plea deal is expected to have significant implications for the 2024 presidential race, as it has already sparked criticism from Republicans towards the Biden administration and the Justice Department. This comes in the wake of a 37-count federal criminal indictment filed against former President Donald Trump for alleged mishandling of classified documents. Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges last week.
The charges against Hunter Biden were outlined in a criminal filing in the US District Court in Delaware, where US Attorney David Weiss, a Trump appointee, has been leading the investigation. The probe initially explored allegations of money laundering, foreign lobbying, and other potential charges. The investigation remains ongoing, as confirmed by the Justice Department.
Christopher Clark, Hunter Biden’s attorney, released a statement stating that the plea agreement with federal prosecutors would bring an end to the long-standing criminal probe into the president’s son. Clark explained that Hunter Biden would take responsibility for two instances of misdemeanour failure to file tax payments on time as part of the plea agreement.
Additionally, the government will bring a firearm charge, completely separate from the plea deal. Clark stressed that Hunter Biden fully recognizes the significance of assuming accountability for these errors, which transpired during a time of personal turmoil and addiction. He conveyed his client’s unwavering dedication to his rehabilitation and progress moving forward.
The White House issued a brief statement expressing the Bidens’ love and support for their son, without providing further comment. Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House, made the statement.
The plea agreement secured by Hunter Biden drew criticism from former President Donald Trump on the Truth Social platform. Trump exclaimed, “Wow! The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN!”
Negotiations to reach the plea deal intensified in recent weeks. Hunter Biden’s legal team had requested a meeting with the Justice Department in April, which was attended by Weiss. During the meeting, Hunter Biden’s lawyers presented arguments against charging him, including the fact that he had repaid the owed taxes along with penalties.
A spokesperson for Weiss declined to comment on the matter.
Unverified informant claims shake investigation
Prosecutors have been investigating an incident from 2018 involving a firearm owned by Hunter Biden, which was reportedly thrown into a dumpster by his then-girlfriend in Wilmington. The investigation is focused on whether Hunter Biden violated federal law by purchasing the firearm while being addicted to drugs, which is prohibited under federal law. Previous reports indicated that prosecutors were considering charges related to making false statements in connection with the gun purchase.
In relation to Hunter Biden’s tax obligations, he has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour counts of wilfully failing to pay federal taxes, as revealed in recently unsealed charging documents. The charges stem from missed IRS deadlines. Hunter Biden’s attorney stated that his client had faced challenging times due to struggles with drug and alcohol addiction during those years. However, he emphasised that Hunter Biden has since fully paid his IRS tax debts.
Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House has been examining Hunter Biden’s financial dealings and investigating the Justice Department’s handling of the case, as well as any potential involvement of other Biden family members in foreign transactions.
Lawyers representing an IRS whistle-blower, who alleges interference in the investigation, have met with both Democratic and Republican congressional investigators to prepare for sharing their client’s information with Congress. The whistle-blower claims to possess information that contradicts sworn testimony given to Congress by a senior political appointee, reportedly Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Another whistle-blower, who previously worked for the FBI, has complained to Republican lawmakers that the Justice Department hindered more aggressive investigative actions in the Hunter Biden probe.
As part of their efforts, House Republicans threatened to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress until they were granted access to a document summarizing claims made by an informant. The informant alleged that Joe Biden traded policy actions for millions of dollars in payments to his family. However, investigators have not corroborated the informant’s claims.
Personal turmoil unleashed: From addiction battles to divorce drama
Hunter Biden has faced legal challenges that have taken place within the context of his personal struggles, some of which he candidly discussed in his memoir published in 2021. He has been transparent about his ongoing battle with addiction to alcohol and drugs. In 2017, his 24-year marriage came to an end through a divorce, during which his ex-wife made allegations of excessive spending on alcohol and visits to strip clubs.
These personal hardships have contributed to the difficulties he has faced in his life. Additionally, in 2017, he acknowledged having a relationship with the widow of his late brother, Beau. Hunter Biden remarried in 2019 and has a child with his wife, Melissa Cohen.
During the 2020 campaign, former President Donald Trump attempted to make Hunter Biden a focal point of criticism. In response, Joe Biden expressed pride in his son’s efforts to address his addiction issues. He reiterated this defense in an interview with CNN, stating that he was proud of Hunter Biden for being open and honest about his battle with drug addiction. Joe Biden emphasized that Hunter Biden had overcome his struggles and built a new life for himself.
After being elected, Joe Biden pledged not to interfere in the Justice Department’s prosecutorial decisions. He made it clear that he would not instruct them on whom to prosecute or not to prosecute. He emphasised that the Justice Department belongs to the people and that he would respect its independence.
Attorney General Merrick Garland affirmed in a Senate panel hearing in 2022 that there would be no interference in the Justice Department’s investigation into Hunter Biden. He stated that President Biden is committed to non-interference in that particular investigation and in any other investigations.
The Justice Department’s investigation into Hunter Biden has reportedly included scrutiny of his efforts to secure a deal with CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects after his father, Joe Biden, left the vice presidency in 2017. Documents released by Republicans from two Senate committees shed light on this matter. However, the deal ultimately fell through, as explained by Hunter Biden in a 2019 New Yorker profile. It is worth noting that Chinese authorities later detained the executive of CEFC amid corruption allegations.
Furthermore, Hunter Biden briefly served as a lawyer for the head of an organization supported by CEFC, who was subsequently convicted on bribery charges related to CEFC.
During the Obama administration, Hunter Biden’s business ventures in China raised concerns among White House officials. The New Yorker reported that he held an equity stake in an investment fund that involved both American and Chinese partners.
The investigation also examined Hunter Biden’s lobbying work in relation to Ukraine. One aspect that drew significant attention was the connection between the lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies and Burisma, an energy company on whose board Hunter Biden served from 2014 to 2019. During this time, Hunter Biden reportedly earned up to $50,000 per month for his board position. Joe Biden has maintained that his son’s Ukraine-related dealings had no impact on his approach to the country during his tenure as vice president. He spearheaded anti-corruption initiatives in Ukraine on behalf of the United States. Testimonies from State Department officials, provided in Senate transcripts, indicated that while they were critical of Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine, they did not believe it improperly influenced policy-making.