Hunter Biden: US President's son charged with failing to pay income tax and illegally holding weapon

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The plea agreement averts a trial that would have generated days or weeks of distracting headlines for a White House that has strenuously sought to keep its distance.

US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been charged with failing to pay federal income tax and illegally possessing a weapon.

The 53-year-old has reached a plea agreement with the Justice Department, according to letter filed in the US District Court in Delaware. As part of the agreement, made public on Tuesday, Biden will plead guilty to misdemeanour tax offences and is expected to reach an agreement with prosecutors on the felony charge of illegally possessing a firearm as a drug user.

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The Associated Press says it is somewhat unusual to resolve a federal criminal case at the same time the charges are filed in court, though it is not totally unheard of. The deal ends a long-running Justice Department investigation into Biden’s second son, who has acknowledged struggling with addiction following the 2015 death of his brother, Beau Biden.

It also averts a trial that would have generated days or weeks of distracting headlines for a White House that has strenuously sought to keep its distance from the Justice Department. A person familiar with the investigation said the Justice Department would recommend probation for the tax charges, meaning Hunter Biden will not face time behind bars. But the decision to go along with any deal is up to the judge.

Hunter Biden. Credit: GettyHunter Biden. Credit: Getty
Hunter Biden. Credit: Getty | Getty

Christopher Clark, a lawyer for the younger Biden, said in a statement that it is his understanding that the five-year investigation has now been resolved. “I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life,” he said.

“He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”

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The Bidens hug during Joe Biden's inauguration. Credit: GettyThe Bidens hug during Joe Biden's inauguration. Credit: Getty
The Bidens hug during Joe Biden's inauguration. Credit: Getty | Getty

The news came as congressional Republicans pursue their own investigations into nearly every facet of Hunter Biden’s business dealings, including examining foreign payments and other aspects of his finances. It also comes days after a 37-count indictment came down against former president Donald Trump for mishandling classified documents on his Florida estate, another case with even more dramatic political implications.

Joe Biden has also faced questions about his son’s business dealings and drug addiction. “The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life,” the White House counsel’s office said in a statement.

Joe Biden. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA WireJoe Biden. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Joe Biden. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The gun charge says that Hunter Biden possessed a handgun, a Colt Cobra 38 special, despite knowing he was a drug user for 11 days in October 2018.

The misdemeanour tax crimes that the younger Biden is set to plead guilty to are far more limited in scope than the allegations that have been pursued for years by congressional Republicans, whose inquiries include examining foreign payments and other aspects of his finances.

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That indictment has already brought an onslaught of criticism from Republicans, accusations of “politicisation” of the Justice Department and a renewed crescendo of questions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings. The Hunter Biden charges were filed by the US attorney for Delaware, Trump appointee David Weiss.

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