Hunter Biden Pleads Not Guilty After Deal With Prosecutors Collapses

A judge raised concern about the details of the earlier plea deal, which included a diversion program for a more serious gun charge.

US president Joe Biden’s son Hunter pleaded not guilty — for now — on two tax charges on Wednesday, after an earlier plea deal fell apart when a judge scrutinised a related agreement regarding a more significant gun possession charge.

Earlier on Wednesday, US District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika refused to sign off on a previous agreement that Hunter Biden made with prosecutors, in which he’d plead guilty to two misdemeanour charges for failure to pay taxes, and would enter a diversion program in place of pleading guilty to felony gun possession as an admitted drug user.

As discussed in court on Wednesday, Biden will reverse his not guilty plea if his lawyers and prosecutors can agree in the next few weeks on a plea deal that satisfies Noreika. She has asked each side to submit additional briefs detailing the legal structure of the potential new agreement.

As part of the previous agreement, prosecutors planned to recommend two years of probation for Biden’s failure to pay taxes on more than $3 million (£2.3 million) he earned between 2017 and 2018. The diversion program required Biden to remain drug-free for two years and not commit any additional crimes in exchange for dismissal of the gun charge, which concerned his possession of a Colt Cobra .38 Special for 11 days in October 2018.

Hunter Biden arrives for his Wednesday court appearance.
Hunter Biden arrives for his Wednesday court appearance.
via Associated Press

But Noreika said in court on Wednesday that she had concerns about the details of the diversion agreement, specifically a clause about not prosecuting Biden for tax crimes in the future. She also raised concern that Biden might only be pleading guilty to the misdemeanour tax charges because of the diversion agreement.

“I think having you guys talk more makes sense,” Noreika told prosecutors and Biden’s legal team, before sending them off to discuss the terms of the deal.

At a White House press conference, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasised that Hunter Biden is not part of the Biden administration, and that all further questions should be directed to the Justice Department and Hunter Biden’s legal team, rather than to the White House.

“Hunter Biden is a private citizen and this was a personal matter for him,” Jean-Pierre said. “As we have said, the president, the first lady, they love their son and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life. This case was handled independently, as all of you know, by the Justice Department under the leadership of a prosecutor appointed by the former president, US President Trump.”

The president’s son’s legal troubles have been a major point of contention for Republicans, who claimed that prosecutors were being lenient in his case. On Tuesday, House Republicans asked Noreika to reconsider statements from IRS officials who worked on the case. Biden’s legal team pushed back, saying Republicans were trying to introduce “grand jury secret information and confidential taxpayer information” to influence the case.


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