Hunter Biden’s plea hearing on two federal tax misdemeanors took an unexpected turn as prosecutors and defense attorneys clashed over a separate felony gun charge deal, according to NBC News. The 53-year-old, son of President Joe Biden, appeared in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, to enter his guilty plea on the tax charges. However, the hearing was complicated by a pretrial diversion agreement reached between his attorneys and prosecutors regarding an unrelated firearms charge.
During the hearing, Hunter Biden stated that he would not plead guilty to the tax charges without the diversion program and the dismissal of the gun charges, creating a last-minute disagreement. Judge Maryellen Noreika, appointed by former President Donald Trump, raised questions about the ongoing investigation into Biden and the possibility of further charges. This raised confusion as Biden’s attorneys had not agreed to additional charges.
The proceedings were put on hold, and the judge called for a recess while the parties decided on resolving their dispute or setting a pretrial date for September.
This hearing marked the first time that the Department of Justice had filed charges against the child of a sitting U.S. president. However, it is the latest development in a series of controversies surrounding Hunter Biden, who has faced issues related to substance abuse.
Last month, U.S. attorney David Weiss revealed that Hunter Biden had agreed to plead guilty to two counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax. Court documents stated that despite earning over $1.5 million annually, Biden did not pay any federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018, resulting in owing more than $100,000 in federal taxes each year. The tax bill has been repaid, and Weiss recommended probation as a sentence for the tax crimes instead of jail time.
In addition to the tax charges, Weiss offered Biden a pretrial diversion agreement for a separate felony charge of possessing a firearm as a user of illegal drugs. Biden was found to have owned a Colt Cobra revolver in 2018 despite knowing his status as an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance. The gun charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, but the agreement is expected to lead to Biden avoiding jail time.
Republicans have criticized the pretrial diversion agreement, alleging preferential treatment due to Biden’s relationship with the president. Concerns have also been raised about whistleblowers’ allegations regarding potential interference in the case. The Justice Department has denied these allegations, and Weiss has offered to testify before Congress in the fall.
On the eve of the hearing, House Republicans and conservative groups attempted to file briefs urging the judge to consider rejecting the plea agreement, citing concerns about potential meddling in the case.
Source : CNBC
Read More :