Hunter Biden was indicted on nine tax charges in California on Thursday (7/12) as the special counsel’s investigation into the president’s son’s business dealings intensified, against the backdrop of the upcoming 2024 election.
The new charges, consisting of three felonies and six misdemeanors, are in addition to a federal indictment for possession of a firearm in Delaware, which accused Hunter Biden of violating a law prohibiting drug users from owning guns in 2018.
Hunter Biden “spent millions of dollars on a lavish lifestyle instead of paying his tax bill,” special counsel David Weiss said in a statement. The charges focus on taxes owed of at least $1.4 million between 2016 and 2019, a period during which Biden admitted he struggled with addiction.
If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 17 years in prison. The special counsel’s investigation remains open, Weiss said.
Hunter Biden was previously expected to plead guilty to tax offenses as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Defense attorneys have indicated they plan to fight any new charges, but they did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
The White House also declined to comment on Thursday’s indictment, referring questions to the Justice Department or Hunter Biden’s personal representative.
The agreement, which covered the 2017 and 2018 tax years, failed to go through last July after a judge questioned it. The deal was also deemed a “sweetheart deal” by Republicans, who are investigating nearly every aspect of Hunter Biden’s business dealings as well as the Justice Department’s handling of the case.
Congressional Republicans have also launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, claiming he was involved in an influence peddling scheme with his son. The House is expected to vote next week to formally authorize the investigation.
Although many questions have been raised regarding the Biden family’s international business ethics, so far there has been no evidence to prove that Joe Biden, either in his current or previous positions, abused his role or accepted bribes.
The criminal investigation, led by Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, has been open since 2018, and is expected to culminate in a plea deal that Hunter Biden planned to strike with prosecutors over last summer. It was previously confirmed he would plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of tax evasion, and would sign a separate agreement on the weapons charge. In the agreement, Hunter Biden is set to serve two years probation rather than go to prison.
The agreement also contained an immunity provision, and defense attorneys argued that the provision remained in effect because that part of the agreement was signed by prosecutors before the agreement was voided.
Prosecutors disagreed, stating that the document was not signed by a judge and was invalid.
After the deal fell through, prosecutors filed three federal gun possession charges alleging that Hunter Biden had lied about drug use to buy a gun he kept for 11 days in 2018. Federal law prohibits possession of guns by “drug users,” despite the act it is rarely seen as a stand-alone charge and has been questioned by federal appeals courts.
Hunter Biden’s long struggle with drug abuse had worsened during that period, following the death of his brother Beau Biden in 2015, prosecutors wrote in a draft plea agreement filed with a court in Delaware.
He still earned “substantial income” in 2017 and 2018, including $2.6 million in business revenue sharing and consulting from a company he formed with the CEOs of a Chinese business conglomerate and Ukrainian energy company Burisma, but paid no income tax. individuals totaling about $4 million during that period, prosecutors said in a Delaware plea agreement.
He finally filed his taxes in 2020 and those taxes were paid by a “third party” the following year, prosecutors said. (ns/rs)