President Joe Biden's son Hunter pleaded not guilty to two tax crimes Wednesday after a plea agreement with prosecutors unraveled when the judge raised concerns about the deal.
Under terms announced last month, Hunter Biden was expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges for not paying more than $100,000 in taxes on his 2017 and 2018 salary, which exceeded $1.5 million. Last month, Biden was also charged with possessing a gun while being a known drug user in 2018, a felony. He had agreed to enter a diversion agreement, which wouldn't technically be considered a guilty plea and would eventually wipe the charge from his record — as long as he adhered to the terms of the agreement.
The anticipated pleas were part of a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that would have likely prevented him from serving time behind bars. Instead, Trump-appointed Judge Maryellen Noreika said she was concerned about the language of the diversion agreement and told lawyers from both sides that they needed to discuss it further.
"I think having you guys talk more makes sense," she said.
Judge Noreika then gave Biden lawyers and government prosecutors 30 days to further explain why she should accept the initial plea deal, but for now it is on hold.
Some Republicans in Congress had been seeking to block the deal, saying the investigation into Biden's crimes was likely tainted by the White House. The House Ways and Means Committee filed court documents Tuesday, urging Judge Noreika to consider testimony from IRS whistleblowers who claim there was interference into the investigation.
Republicans claim he was given preferential treatment by the Justice Department while former President Donald Trump — the GOP presidential front-runner — faces multiple indictments related to his handling of classified documents and alleged hush money payments in New York.
In the letter to several members of Congress, the IRS whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Lytle, said "Despite serious risks of retaliation, my client is offering to provide you with the information necessary to exercise your constitutional oversight function and wishes to make the disclosures in a non-partisan manner to leadership of the relevant committees on both sides of the political aisle."
In the letter, first obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Lytle also says his client has worked for the IRS for more than a decade and claims to have information about alleged political interference in the ongoing probe.
So far, neither Hunter Biden's legal team nor the IRS have commented on the report. However, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that Hunter Biden is a private citizen and this case is a personal matter that will be handled independently by the Justice Department.
“As we have said, the president, the first lady, they love their son, and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life," Jean-Pierre told reporters.
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