Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to two tax crimes on Wednesday. This came after his plea deal with federal prosecutors fell apart during a court hearing because the judge raised concerns about the agreement.
He had earlier reached a ‘more limited’ plea deal with prosecutors concerning his failure to pay income taxes, CNN reported. The judge raised concerns about a provision that could have allowed Hunter to avoid prosecution for a gun-related charge.
Hunter Biden pleads not guilty of two tax crimes after deal with prosecutors collapsed
Last month, Hunter Biden was charged with two misdemeanor tax crimes for failing to pay over $100,000 in taxes on his income of more than $1.5 million for both 2017 and 2018. He had initially made an agreement with prosecutors for two years of probation. However, that deal is now on hold.
During the hearing, there was a dispute in court about whether the initial agreement would protect him from any future charges. The judge expressed concerns about the wording of the deal.
The judge granted defense lawyers and prosecutors a 30-day period to present their arguments on why she should accept the initial deal.
Hunter also confessed that he had struggled with addiction to alcohol and drugs and had been to rehab six times over the past two decades. However, the situation took a surprising turn when the agreement between the prosecutors and Hunter Biden’s attorneys seemed to break down, leading the judge to call for a recess.
During the court proceedings, Judge Maryellen Noreika inquired with Leo Wise, a key prosecutor, about whether the deal offered to Biden would grant him immunity for any other potential crimes, The New York Times reported.
The collapse of the proceedings comes as a surprise since the plea had been carefully negotiated over several weeks. It involved extensive discussions between Justice Department prosecutors and Hunter Biden’s attorneys.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley says the deal was flawed
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley expressed to CNN that the back-and-forth that took place in court today indicates that the deal was inherently flawed. He believes that this situation suggests the possibility of additional charges being brought against Hunter Biden in the future.
During the court proceedings, the judge requested Hunter to provide the names of the foreign companies for which he has worked.
“The Ukrainian energy company was Burisma,” Biden said. Biden has also mentioned his work for a Chinese energy company, CEFC. His ties to that company have come under intense scrutiny by House Republicans.
Republicans are alleging a double standard, arguing that the president’s son, Hunter Biden, received lenient treatment while the president’s political opponent has faced unwarranted criticism. Congressional Republicans have initiated their own investigations into various aspects of Hunter Biden’s activities, including his foreign payments and other dealings.
The investigation is still ongoing, overseen by David Weiss, the US Attorney in Delaware handling the Biden case.
The deal does not shield Hunter from potential future charges
The plea deal was intended to resolve the situation for Hunter Biden and avoid a trial that could lead to distracting headlines for weeks or months. However, the political situation remains messy, with Republicans claiming he received special treatment, and the Justice Department continuing its investigations into Donald Trump, the GOP’s top contender for the 2024 presidential primary.
Wise, the prosecutor in the case, stated that the plea deal would not protect Hunter Biden from facing consequences for any other potential crimes. At that moment, as reported by the Times, Biden’s lawyer declared that the initial plea agreement was no longer valid.
Back in June, Biden’s legal team had indicated that he would agree to plead guilty to two tax charges. The charges were related to him not paying approximately $1.2 million in taxes for the years 2017 and 2018. However, he has since paid the full amount to the IRS.
Additionally, prosecutors had brought a gun charge against the president’s son. However, they offered Biden a pretrial diversion program for this charge. There was also a condition that they would drop it if he seeks treatment. If the gun charge were to go to trial, it could lead to a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.