A plea deal that would have allowed President Joe Biden’s son Hunter to avoid jail time for two misdemeanor tax charges and a felony gun possession charge fell through Wednesday after the presiding federal judge expressed concern over the agreement.
Hunter Biden arrived at a federal court in Delaware Wednesday morning where he had been expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges for failing to pay more than $100,000 in taxes from over $1.5 million in income from 2017 and 2018.
The President’s son had reached a plea deal with the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney of Delaware David Weiss in June — a deal which would have allowed Biden to avoid jail time for his tax offenses and avert a highly publicized trial.
Prosecutors were recommending Hunter Biden receive two years of probation.
Biden’s felony gun possession charge — which he received due to allegedly possessing a firearm in 2018 while being an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance — would be subject to a pretrial diversion agreement.
The pretrial diversion agreement indicates that the felony charge against Biden would be dropped if he meets certain conditions, such as being placed under court supervision for a certain period of time or entering a rehabilitation program.
U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, who is the judge presiding over Biden’s case, said she had concerns over the language in the diversion agreement and suggested that lawyers from the defense and prosecution discuss the deal further.
“I think having you guys talk more makes sense,” Noreika said.
CNN reported that prosecutors had confirmed to the judge that the investigation into Hunter Biden is still ongoing — including a possible charge against Biden for failing to register as a foreign agent.
“[Noreika] was pressing the prosecution on this investigation, and the four corners of this plea agreement,” CNN’s Kara Scanell said.
“One of the prosecutors said that the investigation was very much ongoing,” she said, at which point the judge asked what further charges could possibly be brought against Hunter Biden.
The prosecutors said that Biden’s plea agreement would not include a possible future charge related to a violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).
“Biden’s team said that the plea agreement, as far as they understood it, was now null and void. They were moving ahead to talk about what the next steps would be in this case,” CNN’s Kara Scanell said. “So as of right now, the deal appears to be dead and off the table.”
After Biden’s defense team met with the prosecution during a break, the plea deal appeared to be back on track, but limited in scope — narrowed to cover any tax charges between 2014 and 2019, any drug use charges, and the specific firearm possession charge included in the original deal.
The new agreement would not cover any future allegations against Hunter Biden as part of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation.
The hearing ended Wednesday with Biden pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges and the Judge placing the plea deal on hold due a dispute over whether the initial agreement would protect Biden against any future charges.
Judge Noreika gave Biden’s defense team and prosecutors 30 days to file additional briefs explaining the terms of the revised deal.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the news of Biden’s plea deal falling through at the top of her briefing Wednesday.
“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, President Trump,” she said.
“For anything further, as you know and we’ve been very consistent from here, I’d refer you to the Department of Justice and to Hunter’s representatives, who is his legal team obviously, who can address any of your questions,” she added.
According to a court document filed Wednesday outlining Hunter Biden’s “Conditions of Release,” Hunter Biden is required to:
- Not violate any federal, state, or local law
- Not possess a firearm
- Not use or possess any narcotic drugs or other controlled substances
- Not use alcohol at all
- Submit to testing for prohibited substances
- Continue or actively seek employment
- Communicate in writing all international travel plans and provide supporting documentation
- Participate in a program substance abuse therapy program and counseling if directed by a supervising officer