POLITICS Prosecutors will seek Hunter Biden indictment on gun charge before Sept. 29
In a Wednesday court filing, federal prosecutors revealed that they plan to ask for a grand jury indictment of Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden and former Vice President, before September 29. The charges will be gun-related.
In a status report filed by special counsel David Weiss in U.S. District Court, Delaware, the plan was revealed six weeks after an attempted plea agreement that would have allowed Hunter to plead guilty for tax crimes while avoiding conviction of the gun charge collapsed when a judge questioned it’s terms.
Hunter’s lawyer said later Wednesday that the previous deferred prosecution agreement is still valid. This means that Hunter can no longer be charged for that crime as long as he remains out of trouble for at least two years. At that point, the case will be closed.
Abbe Lowell said that the agreement also bars Weiss and Hunter from bringing any further charges.
Weiss has indicated that he will ask a grand juror to charge him with gun possession if a person is a drug user.
Last month, a panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals questioned, at least for some cases, whether this charge was constitutional. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Mississippi man’s conviction for possession of firearms and marijuana use.
The appeals panel overturned the conviction, because the law applied to Patrick Daniels Jr. in that case conflicted with the 2022 Supreme Court decision that voids a New York State law that regulates gun possession, because it violates the “historic tradition” of firearm regulation in the United States.
Hunter still faces two charges of failing to pay federal income tax on income exceeding $1.5 million per year in 2017 and 2018 At the hearing on July 26, in Delaware, where the plea agreement fell through, Hunter entered a plea of not guilty to these counts.
Weiss’ office and the defense attorneys have been arguing in court in opposing filings whether their agreement to let Hunter avoid prosecution for the felony weapon charge was in effect.
Weiss’s Wednesday filing noted that federal laws state that prosecutors must criminally charge an accused within 30 days after the defendant is arrested or summoned before a court. This clock can be suspended, however, for various reasons.
Weiss wrote that “the Speedy Trial Act” requires the Government to obtain an indictment from a grand jury at the latest by Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.
The Government will seek to return an indictment before the deadline. The Government believes that no action is required by the Court at this time.
Hunter’s attorney Lowell said in a press release that “We believe the diversion agreement signed and filed [on the firearm charge] is valid and prevents additional charges being filed against Mr. Biden who has complied with the conditions of his release under this agreement for several weeks including regular visits from the probation office.”
Lowell stated in a statement obtained by NBC News that “we expect a fair conclusion to the 5-year investigation of Mr. Biden, based on evidence and law and not on outside political pressure.”
Hunter Biden has been accused of corruption by Republicans for many years, despite his father’s involvement in the business.
Biden and his accusers have never been charged.
Weiss, who leads the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Delaware, has been investigating Hunter Biden since 2018.
Weiss has been appointed by the former president Donald Trump who lost his 2020 re-election bid against Joe Biden. Trump wants to rematch Biden in 2024 as the Republican nominee.
Weiss angered the congressional Republicans by offering Hunter, in June, a plea bargain on charges that were relatively minor and would almost guarantee that he wouldn’t serve any jail time.
Hunter agreed as part of the deal to plead guilty on misdemeanor charges for failure to pay taxes.
He also agreed to a pretrial diversion, which allowed him to avoid being charged with a felony of possessing a gun while being a substance abuser if he adhered to the terms of that agreement.
Both sides expected to finalize the deal on July 26 when Hunter and prosecutors appeared before Delaware federal judge Maryellen Noreika.
The deal fell apart after Noreika asked prosecutors questions about its terms. She was particularly interested in the requirement that the judge, and not the Department of Justice, decide whether Hunter adhered to the gun-charges diversion agreement for a period of two years.
This condition was seen by many as a way to protect Trump from putting pressure on the DOJ to find Hunter non-compliant with the agreement, if Trump were to return to the White House.
Noreika, a Trump appointee, allowed Hunter’s attorneys and prosecutors to rework the deal in order to satisfy her concerns. But these discussions were unsuccessful.
Weiss asked Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States, to appoint him as special counsel for this case last month. Garland agreed.
Weiss announced shortly after that Hunter Biden was likely to face trial for tax crimes in California or Washington, D.C.
Hunter’s lawyers told Noreika last month that Weiss had broken the agreement on tax crimes. Defense attorneys also claimed that the diversion agreement for gun charges was still “valid” and “binding.”
Weiss’s Office has stated that the gun agreement was no longer on the table and is invalid because it wasn’t signed by the U.S. Probation Office.
Hunter’s attorneys said in a separate court filing on Wednesday that they still believed the deal was in place and that he is adhering to its conditions.