The Trump-appointed federal prosecutor for Delaware has reached a plea deal with Hunter Biden, in which he is expected to plead guilty to two federal misdemeanors for failing to pay his taxes. Biden also faces a separate felony charge of gun possession that will likely be dismissed if he meets certain conditions, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Two sources familiar with the agreement told NBC News that it includes a provision in which the US attorney agreed to recommend Biden’s probation for his tax violations. Legal experts also said the tax and gun charges would most likely not result in any jail time for President Joe Biden’s son.
It is the first time that the Justice Department, part of the executive branch headed by the president, has brought charges against the son of a sitting president.
The decision by US Attorney David Weiss, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2018, signals the end of the extensive five-year investigation by federal prosecutors, FBI agents and IRS officials into Hunter Biden’s conduct. . The Biden administration has kept Weiss in office to prevent a presidentially appointed federal prosecutor from overseeing his son’s criminal case.
Weiss’s office said in a statement: “Hunter Biden received taxable income in excess of $1,500,000 annually in calendar years 2017 and 2018. Despite owing more than $100,000 in federal income taxes each year, he did not pay tax on rent owed in neither year.” Regarding the weapon charge, the statement said that “from October 12, 2018 through October 23, 2018, Hunter Biden possessed a firearm despite knowing that was an illegal user and addict of a controlled substance.” Weiss’s office also said that its investigation into Biden is ongoing.
Chris Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, told NBC News in a statement: “With the announcement of two settlements between my client, Hunter Biden, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, it is my understanding that the deadline After five years, the Hunter investigation is resolved.”
“Hunter will assume liability for two instances of misdemeanor failure to submit tax payments when due pursuant to a plea agreement. One firearm charge, which will be subject to a pretrial diversion agreement and will not be subject of the plea agreement, will also be filed by the government. I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a turbulent and addictive period in his life. He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”
A White House spokesperson said: “The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment.”
Former President Donald Trump, who faces criminal charges for his alleged mishandling of classified documents, criticized the deal in a post on his Truth Social website.
“Biden’s corrupt DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN,” Trump wrote.
The ruling suggests prosecutors found no grounds to bring charges related to Hunter Biden’s dealings with foreign entities or other wrongdoing. Trump and several Republican-led congressional investigations have long alleged that Biden engaged in years of criminal conduct with people linked to the Chinese government and with companies in the Ukraine and elsewhere.
In 2021, Biden paid all the outstanding taxes he owed for 2017 and 2018, the years named in the charges. Biden was not accused of failing to file tax returns for those years. He entered pleas but agreed to plead guilty to not paying enough in both years, which was more than $100,000.
The felony gun possession charge will be resolved in what is known as a pretrial diversion agreement, where the charges are dropped if the defendant meets certain conditions, such as not committing a crime within a set period of time. The specific conditions in the Biden gun case were not disclosed in court documents.
In a statement, the Justice Department said Biden “faces a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison for each of the tax charges and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the firearm charge,” but noted that ” sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum sentences. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the US Sentencing Guidelines and other legal factors.”
In cases where there is a plea deal like this, the judges usually follow through on the terms of the deal, which in this case would be a sentence of probation, but not always.
A judge will schedule an arraignment date within the next few weeks. Hunter Biden is expected to turn himself in to Delaware authorities and will be prosecuted by US Marshals there.
In April, NBC reported that federal prosecutors were considering four charges against Biden. The charges filed Tuesday do not include a previously discussed felony tax evasion related to a business expense. for one tax year in 2018.
The criminal investigation was overseen by Weiss, whose lengthy deliberations, which have gone on for months, it led to the frustration and bewilderment of other law enforcement officials, including within the FBI and IRS, as both agencies ended their respective investigations in 2022, according to three top law enforcement officials. Another senior US official said that most of the IRS investigation was completed in 2020.
Biden’s drug purchase initially caught the attention of local police in Delaware in 2018, and the FBI was brought in to help soon after, according to a senior law enforcement official.
The federal investigation of Hunter Biden began in 2018 under the Trump administration as a broad investigation into his international trade relations with an emphasis on potential national security implications. Over time, it boiled down to examining his personal taxes and buying a gun. A grand jury was convened in Delaware and continued to hear witness testimony throughout 2022, according to two sources familiar with.
Biden has acknowledged that business partners sought him out by his last name and that he made millions from deals involving foreign countries, but has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. In his memoir, Biden said he used the money for his drug addiction and to support his lifestyle. Biden has previously acknowledged his extensive use of cocaine during this period.
At times, tensions between the investigating US attorneys’ offices and agencies escalated and there were disagreements over possible courses of action, two former top law enforcement officials told NBC News.
In early 2020, the US Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh joined the investigation at the request of then-Attorney General Bill Barr, who was tasked with evaluating information provided by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani about alleged corruption in Ukraine that included allegations about Hunter Biden, according to three senior law enforcement officials.
Investigators looked into whether Biden acted as an agent or lobbyist for a foreign government, a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Investigators ultimately determined there was no basis for the charges beyond Biden’s request for weapons and his failure to pay his estimated taxes on time.
In April, an IRS special agent involved in the Hunter Biden investigation wrote to members of Congress saying he could provide information that would reveal failure to handle “clear conflicts of interest” in the case and detail instances of “preferential treatment and politics that unduly infects decisions”. and protocols.” The IRS has declined to comment on the allegations.
But law enforcement officials familiar with the matter described it as a thorough investigation involving criminal investigators, FBI agents and counterintelligence agents in Baltimore and Wilmington, financial and white-collar crime analysts from FBI headquarters. in Washington, as well as multiple prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in Delaware.
House Republicans have been investigating Hunter Biden’s finances and have alleged that he was involved in a bribery scheme.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said his committee would continue to investigate Biden.
“These charges against Hunter Biden and the sweet plea deal have no impact on the Oversight Committee investigation. We will not rest until the full extent of President Biden’s involvement in the family’s plans is revealed,” Comer said.