On Thursday, the White House clarified that President Joe Biden would not be granting a pardon to his son, Hunter Biden, who is facing charges related to unpaid taxes amounting to more than $1.5 million in income for 2017 and 2018.
During a briefing, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre firmly stated there is “no” possibility of such a pardon for Hunter.
When the judge refused the plea deal, Hunter Biden pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for failing to pay taxes. U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika in Delaware halted the guilty plea after expressing concerns during a lengthy hearing about the terms of the agreement. Another deal was also in question, allowing him to avoid prosecution on a gun charge under certain conditions.
Typically, plea deals are negotiated between defense lawyers and prosecutors over weeks or months, and it’s uncommon, especially in high-profile cases, for judges not to approve them. But the recent hearing revealed disagreements between the two sides regarding the scope of the non-prosecution clause for crimes beyond the gun charge.
Now, Judge Noreika has instructed both parties to submit written briefs addressing her concerns within 30 days. One of the issues raised by the judge was a provision in the agreement regarding the gun charge, where she disagreed with the role it assigned to her in determining potential violations. The judge maintained that such determinations are the responsibility of the Justice Department, not the judge.
There was also a disagreement between Hunter Biden’s lawyers and the Justice Department over the extent of immunity from future prosecution provided by the agreement.
Ultimately, the judge will decide whether to accept or reject the proposed plea agreement. If the deal falls apart, Hunter Biden could potentially face a trial.
Even if the judge accepts the plea agreement, she will have the final say on whether he serves any time in prison. Prosecutors have indicated they will recommend probation, but the judge is not bound to follow that recommendation.
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer, viewed the judge’s decision to pause the plea deal as progress in their investigation. He has been looking into Hunter Biden’s financial ties and transactions since January and has obtained extensive financial records through subpoenas to various institutions.
Last month, Comer joined forces with two chairpersons of powerful committees to launch a broader investigation into claims made by two IRS agents who alleged that the Justice Department had interfered improperly in the case against Hunter Biden.
Despite denials from U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who led the investigation, and the Justice Department, Republicans are proceeding with their probes and have requested Weiss to testify about the case. The Justice Department has offered to have the prosecutor testify after the August recess.