The decade's most triggering comedy
One aspect of a deal struck between Hunter Biden and Delaware’s U.S. Attorney David Weiss survived the collapse of their plea agreement, Biden’s legal team claimed over the weekend.
In a filing on Sunday, defense attorneys said the decision by the federal government to “renege” on the plea agreement for two misdemeanor tax evasion charges did not do away with a pretrial diversion agreement on a felony firearm offense in which prosecutors would drop the case if Biden — who is the president’s son — met certain conditions.
Biden “intends to abide by the terms of the Diversion Agreement that was executed at the July 26 hearing by the Defendant, his counsel, and the United States,” the lawyers wrote.
At the hearing late last month, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika raised concerns about a provision that might have granted Biden sweeping immunity from prosecution in the future. The federal judge tasked both sides with reworking their arrangement.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday that Weiss had been appointed special counsel in the investigation of Biden, a designation that gives the prosecutor broader authority to bring charges in districts outside of his own.
On that same day, Weiss said in a motion that the two sides were at an “impasse” and asked the court to vacate a briefing order “since there is no longer a plea agreement or diversion agreement for the Court to consider.”
Biden, 53, pleaded not guilty to the tax charges in Delaware, but Weiss made a separate filing on Friday seeking to dismiss the information and indicating that he intended to take the tax case to trial in the Central District of California or in the District of Columbia — venues for the alleged offenses — because plea negotiations had hit a roadblock.
One of Biden’s lawyers, Abbe Lowell, said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that a trial was “not inevitable.”
As for the felony gun charge, with which Biden was accused of knowingly possessing a firearm while being an “unlawful” drug user in 2018, his lawyers insisted in their Sunday filing they “have a valid and binding bilateral Diversion Agreement.”
Biden’s “understanding of the scope of immunity agreed to by the United States was and is based on the express written terms of the Diversion Agreement,” the lawyers added. “His understanding of the scope of immunity agreed to by the United States is also corroborated by prosecutors’ contemporaneous written and oral communications during the plea negotiations.”
In an order on Monday, the judge instructed Weiss to file a response to Biden’s lawyers by noon on Tuesday.
If Biden is found guilty of the felony gun charge, the Department of Justice said the maximum penalty is ten years in prison. Each of the misdemeanor charges for an alleged failure to pay taxes on income in 2017 and 2018 brings a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison.