Hunter Biden may face trial this summer in the middle of his father’s election campaign after pleading not guilty to charges that he failed to pay taxes on millions of dollars in income from foreign businesses.
The president’s son entered his plea Thursday in Los Angeles in a case that Republicans hope will bolster an impeachment of his father, President Joe Biden, as he seeks reelection in an expected rematch with Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner for the nomination.
Trump, who faces four criminal indictments, points to the business affairs of Hunter Biden as evidence the presidential family is corrupt.
U.S. District Judge Mark Scarsi said he’s considering a June 20 trial date and set a fast-paced briefing schedule for the case. He didn’t set bail or pre-trial detention for Hunter Biden, who entered and left the courthouse through the garage and didn’t make remarks to reporters.
Scarsi ordered Biden to submit to regular drug and alcohol tests, disclose international travel plans, provide future federal and state tax returns to the court, and banned him from owning a firearm, among other conditions.
A federal grand jury
Hunter Biden’s problems extend beyond the Los Angeles tax case. He also faces a separate trial in Delaware on
Two U.S. House committees recommended Wednesday that the younger Biden be held in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena in the impeachment inquiry into his father.
The votes, 23-14 in the Judiciary Committee and 25-21 in the Oversight Committee, came after Hunter Biden made an unannounced appearance on the U.S. Capitol grounds to attend the proceedings.
The indictment offered no evidence the president benefited from or was involved in his son’s activities — a link that Republicans have long tried to establish.
Hunter Biden had hoped to avoid the criminal cases. In July, he agreed to plead guilty in Delaware to two misdemeanor tax counts and acknowledge a firearms violation without a conviction, receiving no jail time. But the deal
Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, told the judge during the Thursday hearing he plans to file several motions that will be similar to filings he has made in the Delaware case.
Lowell has criticized the Justice Department for caving to political pressure from Republicans and conservative media in going after the younger Biden in both the tax and firearms cases. Lowell said there was “undue interference in the process” surrounding the breakdown of the original plea agreement.
“We don’t think this is all that unusual,” countered prosecutor Leo Wise. “Pleas fall apart all the time.”
David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware appointed by Trump, came under intense criticism for offering a sweetheart deal to the president’s son in the plea agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland then appointed Weiss as special counsel in the case, freeing him to pursue separate criminal cases.
The indictment alleges Hunter Biden made more than $7 million in gross income from 2016 to 2020, including from a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, and a Chinese private equity firm, CEFC China Energy. Instead of paying his taxes, prosecutors say, he spent money on “drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature.”
House Republicans had subpoenaed Hunter Biden to testify for a private Dec. 13 deposition, but Lowell said his client will answer questions only in a public hearing or setting. Republicans have countered that Hunter Biden’s demands amount to a “request for special treatment” and an attempt to “bully” Congress.
The case is U.S. v. Biden, 23-cr-599, US District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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