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Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to federal tax charges

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to nine federal tax charges in the Central District of California before District Judge Mark Scarsi. 

The hearing is still underway where the conditions of his release and the timing for the case and timing for pre-trial motions will likely be determined. 

Federal prosecutors allege President Biden’s son engaged in a “four-year scheme” to avoid paying at least $1.4 million in federal taxes. In December, they charged Hunter Biden with nine counts of tax crimes, including three felony and six misdemeanor charges related to his alleged failure to file and pay taxes, evasion of assessment and filing a false or fraudulent tax return. If convicted, he faces up to 17 years in prison.

In the 56-page indictment, prosecutors alleged Hunter Biden earned more than $7 million in gross income when he failed to pay taxes. They said he funded an “extravagant lifestyle” and evaded taxes by classifying some personal expenditures — such as luxury hotel stays, luxury vehicle rentals and escort services — as business deductions.  

The tax charges filed in California, Hunter Biden’s state of residence, were brought by special counsel David Weiss in the second federal indictment of the president’s son secured by his office. Weiss, who was appointed U.S. attorney for Delaware by former President Donald Trump and named special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2023, charged Hunter Biden with three felony gun charges in the state of Delaware, related to his alleged unlawful possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to the gun charges in October.

His indictments came after a plea agreement on two misdemeanor tax charges and a diversion agreement stemming from the firearms charge unraveled in court in July 2023 when the judge questioned whether the agreement would allow Hunter Biden to avoid potential future charges, as well as the charges related to his taxes. 

Republican-led congressional committees probing Hunter Biden’s personal finances and his foreign business dealings have led to the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. They are investigating whether senior officials in the Biden administration took steps to impede criminal probes into the president’s son and whether Mr. Biden personally benefited from his family’s business dealings. The investigation has so far not uncovered any wrongdoing by the president, and he has referred to the impeachment inquiry as a waste of time and “baseless political stunt.”

IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, case agents previously assigned to investigate Hunter Biden’s finances, told lawmakers they recommended federal charges be brought against the president’s son for tax evasion and other violations but faced resistance and were told that then-U.S. Attorney Weiss that he had been denied special counsel status at the time and was “not the deciding person” to bring charges in the case. They alleged intentional slow-walking and “an undeniable pattern of preferential treatment” in the federal investigation into Biden.   

Weiss disputed those claims, asserting he’d never been “blocked” or impeded in pursuing charges. Nonetheless, in August 2023, Weiss told Garland his investigation had reached the point where he felt the special counsel designation was necessary, and Garland granted it. 

On Wednesday, Hunter Biden made an unexpected appearance on Capitol Hill before the Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Accountability and Judiciary committees voted to advance resolutions to hold him in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena to appear for a closed-door deposition. 

Hunter Biden had offered to appear in an open hearing but did not want to submit to an interview behind closed doors. His lawyer, Abbe Lowell, called closed-door depositions “a tactic Republicans have repeatedly misused in their political crusade to selectively leak and mischaracterize what witnesses have said.”

“At the end of the day, Hunter Biden doesn’t set the rules for Congress,” said Republican Rep. James Comer, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. “We believe that he’s been given special treatment by the Department of Justice, by the FBI, by the IRS….we want to bring him in.”

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