By Tom Ozimek
Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, pleaded not guilty on July 26 to federal tax and gun charges after the presiding judge objected to an earlier plea agreement that had linked the two alleged crimes.
At the July 26 hearing, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika expressed “concerns” that Mr. Biden’s plea agreement linked tax crimes to resolving felony gun charges.
Judge Noreika, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said she couldn’t accept the deal in its current form.
Following in-court discussions between prosecutors and the defense team about the structure of the agreement, Mr. Biden entered a plea of not guilty.
On June 20, prosecutors said that Mr. Biden had agreed to plead guilty to intentionally failing to pay federal income taxes and to a felony gun charge.
The president’s son received more than $1.5 million in taxable income in 2017 and more than $1.5 million more in 2018, according to an indictment. He was required by law to pay more than $100,000 in income tax for his earnings each of those years. But he “did willfully fail” to pay the tax.
The counts are misdemeanors. Each carries up to one year in prison.
Mr. Biden said in late 2020 that authorities were investigating his “tax affairs.” He said, “I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately.”
A subpoena, made public in 2022, showed that the U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware, David Weiss, was compelling JPMorgan Chase Bank to release Mr. Biden’s bank records. IRS agents later came forward to claim that the investigation wasn’t being handled properly.
Mr. Biden is charged in a separate case with unlawfully owning a firearm while addicted to and using a controlled substance, which is a felony.
Separately, Mr. Biden, in 2018, “knowing that he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance … did knowingly possess a firearm, that is, a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver with serial number RA 551363, said firearm having been shipped and transported in interstate commerce,” an indictment states.
The law in question forbids people convicted of a crime punishable by a prison term of more than one year or who illegally use or are addicted to a controlled substance as defined in the Controlled Substance Act from possessing firearms.
Several outlets have reported that Mr. Biden possessed a gun in 2018 and that his then-girlfriend, Hallie Biden—the widow of his brother, Beau—threw the gun into a garbage can before it was recovered by authorities. He has said in his autobiography that he was using crack cocaine that year.
Mr. Biden has agreed to enter a pretrial diversion agreement on that charge, according to Mr. Weiss.
Pretrial diversion programs enable defendants to get charges dismissed if they meet certain criteria. The objectives of the programs include preventing future criminal activity and promoting rehabilitation, according to the Department of Justice.
The charge carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Christopher Clark, a lawyer representing Mr. Biden, declined to comment.
“The president and first lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life,” Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson, told news outlets in a statement after news broke of the original plea deal. “We will have no further comment.”
President Joe Biden has claimed in the past that his son “did nothing wrong.”
“I trust him. I have faith in him,” the president said on MSNBC in a recent interview.
Jack Phillips, Joseph Lord, and Reuters contributed to this report.