Hunter Biden expected to plead guilty to federal tax crimes

Hunter Biden arrives in court in DelawareGetty Images

A judge has questioned a plea deal for US President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to plead guilty to minor charges of not paying his taxes on time.

The agreement could spare Mr Biden prison time and prosecution on a more serious gun possession charge.

But a federal judge on Wednesday raised concerns about whether the deal could interfere with ongoing inquiries.

The case marks the first time the justice department has charged the child of a sitting president.

It follows a five-year justice department investigation into the finances of Hunter Biden, who arrived on Wednesday morning at the court in Wilmington, Delaware.

During the hearing, US District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned a provision in the plea deal that contained details about not prosecuting Hunter Biden for any future tax crimes.

Defence lawyers had cast the plea deal as the final chapter in the inquiry into their client’s finances, but prosecutors confirmed in court that the probe was ongoing.

Officials with the justice department are still investigating whether Hunter Biden violated federal laws that required him to register as a foreign agent while working in China and Ukraine during his father’s vice-presidency, CNN reported.

Legal teams for both sides were seen negotiating in full view of reporters inside the court in an effort to salvage the deal or carve out a narrower agreement.

The misdemeanour tax counts are minor charges compared to the more serious allegations against Hunter Biden that congressional Republicans have introduced to committee hearings.

Republicans have alleged that Hunter Biden has been given an unusually lenient plea deal because he is the president’s son.

That claim is vigorously denied by the US Attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, who led the investigation.

Mr Weiss was appointed by former President Donald Trump and left in place by the Biden administration to finish the investigation into Hunter Biden.

The prosecutor has offered to testify in front of Congress to address criticism of the inquiry.

The House of Representatives Oversight Committee, which is examining all sorts of allegations against Hunter Biden, has already heard testimony from a whistleblower who claimed the justice department had deliberately slow-walked the tax investigation.

Republican congressman and oversight panel member Tim Burchett told the BBC he is disgusted by that assertion.

“Why would you break the rules for a dirt bag like Hunter Biden?” said the Tennessee Republican. “I mean, he’s got all this money.

“He is just a despicable human being. And yet, this is the kind of guy that the Democrats want to cover for.”

Republicans say that public confidence in the justice system will be undermined by the special treatment they allege he has received.

Democrats say it is no coincidence that Republicans are attacking the justice system while Mr Trump faces two criminal indictments and may soon learn of charges against him in two more cases.

Republicans have focused on a notorious laptop that Hunter Biden apparently abandoned in a computer repair shop in Delaware.

The contents of the computer made their way into the hands of Trump allies and have been used to try to prove bribery and corruption against the president’s son and to attempt to connect his father to illegal business dealings.

Democratic strategist Ashley Etienne said politicians will still be talking about Hunter Biden’s laptop right up until next year’s presidential election.

She argued that Republicans were trying to create a “false equivalency” between the misdemeanours to which Hunter Biden wants to plead guilty and the crimes with which Donald Trump has been charged.


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