WASHINGTON − Hunter Biden’s attorneys accused federal prosecutors of reneging on a plea agreement that faced scrutiny from a federal judge for the president’s son to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax evasion charges and receive immunity from future charges.
In a filing Sunday night, Hunter Biden’s legal team said prosecutors − not the defense − “proposed and largely dictated the form and content” of both the plea agreement and a separate diversion agreement the defense interpreted as granting their client immunity.
“The Defendant, through counsel, accepted the prosecutors’ invitation to engage in settlement discussions that the Defendant and counsel understood would fully resolve the Government’s sprawling five-year investigation,” Hunter Biden’s attorneys said in the filing.
The plea deal unraveled in court last month.
The investigation remains open after Attorney General Merrick Garland designated special counsel status to U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the Delaware prosecutor who has overseen the five-year investigation of President Joe Biden’s son.
Shortly after the special counsel appointment, prosecutors filed a motion stating that the two sides are at an “impasse” and that the government expects the matter to go to trial. The Justice Department is seeking to move the case to either a federal court in Washington or California. As special counsel, Weiss will have the authority to bring charges in any federal court he chooses.
U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, at a July 26 hearing, rejected a plea deal between Hunter Biden and prosecutors. Noreika raised concerns about the terms of the agreement including disagreements over assurances Hunter Biden’s legal team sought for immunity from any future criminal charges related to the case.
Attorneys for Hunter Biden argued the immunity provision covered his overseas business ventures. But prosecutors framed immunity more narrowly and left open the possibility the government could bring charges under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The defense said in Sunday’s filing that Hunter Biden’s understanding of the plea agreement, including immunity, is “corroborated by prosecutors’ contemporaneous written and oral communications during the plea negotiations.”
Hunter Biden’s lawyers said they are “still prepared respond to the questions” the judge posed at the hearing but “in light of the United States’ decision on Friday to renege on the previously agreed-upon plea agreement, we agree that those issues are moot at this point.”
After the judge refused to accept the plea agreement, Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty last month to failing to pay more than $100,000 in taxes on $1.5 million in taxable income he made in 2017 and 2018. He faces a separate charge for possessing a firearm in 2018 as a drug user.
The appointment of a special counsel and a possible trial likely assures that Hunter Biden investigation will continue into 2024 while President Joe Biden is running for reelection.
Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lead attorney, blamed he prosecution when asked on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday why the deal fell apart.
“The possibilities are only, one, they wrote something and weren’t clear what they meant, two, they knew what they meant and misstated it to counsel, or, third, they changed their view as they were standing in court in Delaware,” Lowell said.
Lowell said he has confidence “no new evidence” will turn up against his client, arguing that Weiss’ elevation to special counsel changes little in the case than a “new title.”
“I’m confident that if this prosecutor does what has been done for the last five years, look at the facts, the evidence and the law, then the only conclusion can be what the conclusion was on July 26th,” Lowell said. “There’s no new evidence to be found.”
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden’s attorneys accuse prosecutors of reneging on plea deal