Hunter Biden, the son of United States President, Joe Biden, will plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and struck a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve a felony gun charge, the Justice Department (DOJ) said in a court filings, on Tuesday.
As part of the plea agreement, the DOJ has agreed to recommend a sentence of probation for the two counts of failing to pay taxes in a timely matter for the years 2017 and 2018, CNN quoted sources to have said. Hunter owed at least $100,000 in federal taxes for 2017, and at least $100,000 in 2018, but did not pay what was due to the Internal Revenue Service by the deadlines.
A judge will have the final say on any sentence.
The plea deal will have immediate reverberations in the 2024 presidential race. It has already jumpstarted political criticism from Republicans of the Biden administration and the DOJ in the wake of the 37-count federal criminal indictment filed against Donald Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified documents. Trump pleaded not guilty last week.
The charges were detailed in a criminal filing in US District Court in Delaware, where the US Attorney, David Weiss, a Trump appointee, has been conducting the investigation that at one time explored allegations of money laundering, foreign lobbying and other potential charges.
The investigation is ongoing, the DOJ said on Tuesday.
But Hunter’s attorney, Christopher Clark, said in a statement that the deal with federal prosecutors will “resolve” the DOJ’s long-running criminal probe into the president’s son.
“Hunter will take responsibility for two instances of misdemeanor failure to file tax payments when due pursuant to a plea agreement. A firearm charge, which will be subject to a pretrial diversion agreement and will not be the subject of the plea agreement, will also be filed by the Government. I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life. He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward,” Clark said.
In a brief statement, the White House said the Bidens “love their son.”
“The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment,” said White House spokesman, Ian Sams.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump has criticised the Hunter Biden plea deal on his Truth Social.
“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!” he wrote.
Negotiations to reach a plea deal intensified in recent weeks. Hunter’s legal team sought a meeting with the DOJ in April, which Weiss attended, and where his lawyers gave a presentation detailing why they believe Hunter shouldn’t be charged. Part of their argument included that Hunter paid back taxes owed, including penalties.
Prosecutors had been examining a 2018 incident in which a firearm owned by Hunter ended up tossed by his then-girlfriend into a dumpster in Wilmington, a person briefed on the matter said. Hunter described in media interviews in 2021 that he was addicted to drugs, which raised the possibility he broke federal law when he bought the firearm.
Federal law prohibits firearms purchases by anyone who uses or is addicted to illegal drugs. Earlier, there were reports that federal prosecutors were weighing possible charges connected to making a false statement related to the gun purchase.
As a result of the missed IRS deadlines, Hunter is pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to pay federal taxes, according to the newly unsealed charging documents.
He was repeatedly warned about his tax obligations, according to the emails, but his attorney told CNN in July 2022 that those years were difficult times for Hunter Biden, given struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. Clark has said that his client has now “fully paid” his IRS tax debts.
Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House has been scrutinising Hunter’s financial dealings and exploring the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation as well as any involvement by other Biden family members in overseas deals.
Lawyers for an IRS whistleblower, who claims that interference exists in the investigation, met with Democratic and Republican congressional investigators to lay the groundwork for what their client hopes to share with Congress.
The IRS whistleblower claimed to have information that “contradicts sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee,” according to a letter from the whistleblower’s attorney. That senior political appointee was Garland, CNN reports.
One whistleblower who worked for the FBI also has complained to Republican lawmakers that the Justice Department wouldn’t allow agents to take more aggressive investigative steps in the Hunter Biden probe.
Republicans in the House threatened to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress until he agreed to let them to review a document that summarised claims from an informant who alleged that Joe Biden traded policy actions in exchange for millions of dollars in payments to his family. The informant’s claims were not corroborated by investigators.
During the Obama administration, other Hunter’s business ventures in China raised concerns among White House officials, according to The New Yorker, which reported an equity stake Hunter took in an investment fund involving US and Chinese partners.
Federal investigators also previously examined the Ukraine-linked lobbying work by Hunter as well. Of specific interest was the work the lobbying firm, Blue Star Strategies did with Burisma, an energy company on whose board Hunter served from 2014 to 2019, earning as much as $50,000 a month.
Joe Biden has said that his son’s Ukraine-related dealings had no bearing on his approach to the country as vice president, when he spearheaded Ukraine anti-corruption initiatives for the United States. And State Department officials who were critical of Hunter’s Ukraine activities nonetheless told lawmakers that it did not improperly influence policy-making, according to transcripts of Senate testimony.