Prosecutors will seek Hunter Biden indictment before Sept. 29, court filing says

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, departs federal court after a plea hearing on two misdemeanor charges of willfully failing to pay income taxes in Wilmington, Delaware, July 26, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Federal prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury to indict Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, before Sept. 29, they revealed in a court filing Wednesday.

The charges that special counsel David Weiss will seek against Hunter Biden were not disclosed in the filing in U.S. District Court in Delaware.

But it is possible Weiss will seek an indictment against the president’s son on a firearms charge, at the least.

The new filing comes six weeks after a planned plea deal for Hunter to resolve charges of tax and weapons crimes fell apart when a judge questioned its conditions during a hearing in that court.

Hunter at that hearing ended up pleading not guilty to two counts of failure to pay federal income taxes on income of more than $1.5 million annually in 2017 and 2018.

Weiss’s filing on Wednesday was a status report the judge in the case had requested in view of a federal statute that requires defendants to be tried quickly on charges.

The Speedy Trial Act requires that the Government obtain the return of an indictment by a grand jury by Friday, September 29, 2023, at the earliest,” Weiss’s office wrote.

“The Government intends to seek the return of an indictment in this case before that date. Thus, the Government does not believe any action by the Court is necessary at this time.”

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Hunter Biden, who had business dealings in China and Ukraine, for years has been the focal point of allegations by Republicans of corruption involving him and his father.

Neither Biden has ever been charged in connection with those allegations.

But Hunter Biden has been under criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware, which Weiss leads, since 2018. Weiss was appointed to that job by former President Donald Trump, who lost his reelection bid to Joe Biden in 2020, and who is now seeking a 2024 rematch as the Republican nominee.

Weiss enraged congressional Republicans in June by offering Hunter a plea deal on relatively minor charges, ones that would nearly guarantee he would not serve any time in jail.

As part of that deal, Hunter agreed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charges of failure to pay income taxes.

He also consented to a so-called pretrial diversion agreement, which would allow him to escape being charged with a felony of possessing a firearm while being a drug addict if he abided by the conditions of that agreement.

On July 26, Hunter and prosecutors appeared in Delaware federal court before Judge Maryellen Noreika, with both sides expecting to formalize that deal.

Instead, the deal collapsed after Noreika questioned prosecutors about its terms, particularly the condition that called for the judge — and not the Department of Justice — to be the one to decide whether Hunter was complying with the gun charge diversion agreement over a two-year period.

That condition was widely seen as insurance against Trump pressuring the DOJ to find Hunter in non-compliance with the agreement if Trump returned to the White House.

Noreika, who herself was appointed by Trump, gave Hunter’s lawyers and prosecutors time to redo the deal to address her concerns. But those discussions failed.

Weiss last month asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint him special counsel in the case, which Garland consented to. Shortly afterward, Weiss said Hunter would likely face trial in either California or Washington, D.C., for the tax crimes.

Hunter’s attorneys last month told Noreika that Weiss had reneged on the previously agreed deal on the tax crimes. Defense lawyers also argued that the gun charge diversion deal was still “valid and binding.”

Weiss’s office has said the gun agreement is now off the table, and that it is not valid because it was not signed by the U.S. Probation office.

But in a court filing Wednesday, Hunter’s lawyers said they still believe the deal is in place, and said he is complying with its conditions.

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