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Hunter Biden to Plead Guilty in Tax and Gun Case, Deal Expected to Prevent Prison Time

In a significant development, Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, is expected to plead guilty in a tax and gun case.

Hunter Biden
Domenico Fornas/Shutterstock

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has reached a deal with the Justice Department in which he will plead guilty to federal tax offenses while avoiding full prosecution on a separate gun charge. The agreement, made public on Tuesday, will likely spare him from serving time behind bars.

Under the terms of the deal, Hunter Biden, 53, will plead guilty to misdemeanor tax offenses. In exchange, he will not face prosecution on a felony charge of illegally possessing a firearm as a drug user, as long as he adheres to the agreed-upon conditions set by the court.

The resolution of this long-running Justice Department investigation puts an end to the scrutiny surrounding the taxes and foreign business dealings of President Biden’s second son. Hunter Biden has openly acknowledged his struggles with addiction following the death of his brother Beau Biden in 2015. The deal also avoids a potentially distracting trial for the White House, which has sought to maintain distance from the Justice Department.

When asked about the development during a meeting in California, President Biden simply stated, “I’m very proud of my son.” The White House counsel’s office released a statement expressing the love and support of the president and first lady Jill Biden for their son as he continues to rebuild his life.

It is important to note that the focus of this agreement is limited to tax and weapons violations, rather than anything broader or linked to the Democratic president. Nonetheless, former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have sought to use the case to cast a negative light on Joe Biden and raise questions about the independence of the Biden Justice Department.

Trump, who is challenging President Biden in the 2024 presidential race, likened the agreement to a “mere traffic ticket” and claimed that the system is broken. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, both presidential contenders, also criticized the outcome, referring to it as a “sweetheart deal.”

According to two individuals familiar with the investigation, the Justice Department is expected to recommend 24 months of probation for the tax charges, meaning Hunter Biden would not serve time in prison. However, it will ultimately be up to the judge to decide whether to accept the deal. The individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, also revealed that the back taxes, totaling over $100,000, have already been paid.

Regarding the gun charge, Hunter Biden is accused of possessing a handgun, a Colt Cobra .38 Special, for 11 days in October 2018 while knowing he was a drug user. This count, which is rarely filed, carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison. However, the Justice Department stated that Hunter Biden has reached a pretrial agreement, which suggests that if he complies with the conditions, the case will be expunged from his record.

Christopher Clark, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, issued a statement expressing his understanding that the five-year investigation has now been resolved. Clark emphasized Hunter Biden’s commitment to taking responsibility for his mistakes made during a period of turmoil and addiction and his determination to continue his recovery and move forward.

This agreement comes at a time when the Justice Department is pursuing a significant case against former President Trump, who is facing federal criminal charges, making him the first former president to do so. The resolution of Hunter Biden’s case follows a 37-count indictment filed against Trump for allegations of mishandling classified documents on his Florida estate. The indictment was brought by a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to avoid any potential conflict of interest within the Justice Department.

The indictment against Trump has led to Republican criticism of the supposed politicization of the Justice Department. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans continue to investigate various aspects of Hunter Biden’s business dealings, including foreign payments.

Rep. James Comer, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, argued that the younger Biden is getting off with a light punishment despite ongoing investigations in Congress. Republican lawmakers claim that these investigations demonstrate a pattern of corruption involving the financial ties of the Biden family, although they have yet to provide evidence to support these claims.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, on the other hand, stated that the case underwent a thorough five-year investigation by U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Delaware prosecutor appointed by Trump.

Coons believes that the resolution of the case puts an end to the elaborate conspiracy theories surrounding it. He also reaffirmed his support for President Biden’s reelection, stating that Hunter Biden’s situation does not change his stance.

Caroline Ciraolo, a former head of the Justice Department’s tax division, explained that misdemeanor tax cases are not common, and most of them result in sentences that do not include imprisonment. She stressed that an expected federal conviction is not a mere slap on the wrist.

Keith Rosen, a former head of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware, stated that gun possession charges unrelated to other firearm crimes are also infrequent. He noted that in Delaware, where Hunter Biden’s case is being handled, the number of multiple illegal possession cases filed each year for individuals without significant criminal histories amounts to only a few.

The investigation into Hunter Biden by the Justice Department became public in December 2020, a month after the 2020 election. Hunter Biden revealed that he had received a subpoena related to the department’s scrutiny of his taxes. The subpoena sought information on his business dealings with several entities, including the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, on whose board he served. A federal grand jury in Delaware heard testimony regarding his taxes and foreign business transactions.

In February 2021, as is customary with a new presidential administration, most Trump-era U.S. attorneys were asked to resign. However, U.S. Attorney David Weiss was kept in place to ensure continuity in the investigation. In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan on June 7, Weiss confirmed that he had “ultimate authority” over the investigation.

At a congressional hearing in August, FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed that the investigation remained active, led by the FBI’s Baltimore field office, and stated that the bureau was pursuing it aggressively.

Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed not to interfere in the probe during a hearing in March. However, an anonymous IRS special agent later alleged mishandling of the investigation in a letter to Congress, seeking whistleblower protection.

Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma in 2014, around the same time his father, then-Vice President Barack Obama, was involved in the Obama administration’s foreign policy with Ukraine. Trump and his allies have baselessly claimed that Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine influenced the Obama administration’s policies.

Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine became a central issue during the first impeachment case against Trump. The former president had asked Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a telephone call, to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden in an apparent attempt to boost his own reelection campaign.

During the 2020 presidential election, Republicans sought to highlight Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine. In October of that year, the New York Post reported that it had received a copy of a laptop hard drive from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney. Giuliani claimed that the laptop belonged to Hunter Biden and contained incriminating evidence. The story faced skepticism due to concerns about the laptop’s origins and Giuliani’s involvement, as well as the fact that top Trump administration officials had warned of Russia’s efforts to discredit Joe Biden. To date, no evidence has emerged linking Russia to the laptop or the emails found on it.

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