Hunter Biden appeared in a federal courtroom on July 26 to conclude a plea agreement. It was described by many as a “sweetheart” deal, as it would allow the first son to avoid prison time on a felony firearms possession charge. For his part, Biden was to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of willful failure to pay federal income tax. Things did not go according to plan, however. The deal was iced by Judge Maryellen Noreika, who had “concerns” about its constitutionality.
Under the terms of the agreement, Hunter Biden would have entered a diversion program that would allow him to avoid incarceration for possession of a firearm while using or being addicted to a controlled substance. The Department of Justice (DOJ) would have recommended two years of probation, subject to certain conditions.
The younger Biden is also embroiled in a “pay to play” and alleged bribery scheme involving his father and other members of the Biden family. After Noreika, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump but who has donated to both parties, nixed the arrangement, Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty. The case has now been deferred to allow Biden’s defense team and federal prosecutors to work out new terms. No future date has been set.
Hunter Biden Not Out of the Woods Yet
The judge also was concerned that the bargain would have granted Biden a certain amount of immunity even though he is still the subject of an ongoing investigation. Assistant US Attorney Leo Wise told Noreika that Hunter Biden could potentially be charged, at some future point, with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. Biden’s attorneys, who apparently saw the plea agreement as a way for their client to avoid any further charges, responded to Wise’s comment by saying the deal was then “null and void.”
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley on Fox News explained the judge’s issue with the plea deal while also agreeing with the decision by Biden’s defense team not to enter the arrangement. “There is no way I would agree to a plea agreement where we didn’t close out the charges,” Turley said, “otherwise, you’ve got Damocles’ sword hanging over your client’s head.” Referring to the DOJ’s contradictory position, he added: “They want to cap off this case and end it, but they also want to pretend that it’s ongoing. And you can’t have that ambiguity with a federal judge.”
According to federal prosecutors, Hunter Biden paid no income taxes in 2017 and 2018 even though he made more than $1.5 million and owed more than $100,000 in each of those years.
Congressional Republican investigators are probing the movement of money from various foreign companies to the Biden family via more than 20 shell companies while Joe Biden was vice president. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) revealed during a July 25 interview that this probe would “rise to the level of impeachment inquiry” if Republicans believed that information and records were being withheld from them.
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