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Hunter Biden to plead guilty to three federal charges

(CNN) — Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, will plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and struck a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve a felony gun charge, the Justice Department said Tuesday in court filings.

As part of the plea agreement, the Justice Department has agreed to recommend a sentence of probation for the two counts of failing to pay taxes in a timely matter for the years 2017 and 2018, according to sources. Hunter Biden owed at least $100,000 in federal taxes for 2017, and at least $100,000 in 2018, but did not pay what was due to the Internal Revenue Service by the deadlines.

A judge will have the final say on any sentence.

The plea deal will have immediate reverberations in the 2024 presidential race. It has already jumpstarted political criticism from Republicans of the Biden administration and the Justice Department in the wake of the 37-count federal criminal indictment filed against Donald Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified documents. Trump pleaded not guilty last week.

The charges were detailed in a criminal filing in US District Court in Delaware, where the US Attorney David Weiss, a Trump appointee, has been conducting the investigation that at one time explored allegations of money laundering, foreign lobbying and other potential charges.

The investigation is ongoing, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

But Hunter Biden’s attorney, Christopher Clark, said in a statement that the deal with federal prosecutors will “resolve” the Justice Department’s long-running criminal probe into the president’s son.

“Hunter will take responsibility for two instances of misdemeanor failure to file tax payments when due pursuant to a plea agreement,” Clark said. “A firearm charge, which will be subject to a pretrial diversion agreement and will not be the 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 period of turmoil and addiction in his life. He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”

In a brief statement, the White House said the Bidens “love their son.”

“The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment,” said White House spokesman Ian Sams.

Trump criticized the Hunter Biden plea deal on Truth Social.

‘Wow! The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere “traffic ticket.” Our system is BROKEN!’

Negotiations to reach a plea deal intensified in recent weeks. Hunter Biden’s legal team sought a meeting with the Justice Department in April, which Weiss attended, and where Hunter Biden’s lawyers gave a presentation detailing why they believe Hunter Biden shouldn’t be charged. Part of their argument included that Hunter Biden paid back taxes owed, including penalties.

A spokesman for Weiss declined to comment.

Firearms investigation and tax charges

Prosecutors had been examining a 2018 incident in which a firearm owned by Hunter Biden ended up tossed by his then-girlfriend into a dumpster in Wilmington, a person briefed on the matter said. Hunter Biden described in media interviews in 2021 that he was addicted to drugs, which raised the possibility he broke federal law when he bought the firearm.

Federal law prohibits firearms purchases by anyone who uses or is addicted to illegal drugs and CNN previously reported that federal prosecutors were weighing possible charges connected to making a false statement related to the gun purchase.

As a result of the missed IRS deadlines, Hunter Biden is pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to pay federal taxes, according to the newly unsealed charging documents.

He was repeatedly warned about his tax obligations, according to the emails, but his attorney told CNN in July 2022 that those years were difficult times for Hunter Biden, given struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. Clark has said that his client has now “fully paid” his IRS tax debts.

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House has been scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s financial dealings and exploring the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation as well as any involvement by other Biden family members in overseas deals.

Lawyers for an IRS whistleblower who claims that interference exists in the investigation met with Democratic and Republican congressional investigators to lay the groundwork for what their client hopes to share with Congress, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The IRS whistleblower claimed to have information that “contradicts sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee,” according to a letter from the whistleblower’s attorney. That senior political appointee was Garland, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

One whistleblower who worked for the FBI also has complained to Republican lawmakers that the Justice Department wouldn’t allow agents to take more aggressive investigative steps in the Hunter Biden probe.

Republicans in the House threatened to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress until he agreed to let them to review a document that summarized claims from an informant who alleged that Joe Biden traded policy actions in exchange for millions of dollars in payments to his family. The informant’s claims were not corroborated by investigators.

Personal struggles

Hunter Biden’s legal issues come against the backdrop of the personal troubles he’s faced, many of which he addressed in his 2021 memoir. Biden has been open about struggles with addiction to alcohol and drugs. His 24-year marriage ended in a 2017 divorce and his ex-wife has accused him of spending extravagantly on liquor and strip clubs. In 2017, he also admitted an relationship with the widow of his late brother Beau. Hunter Biden remarried in 2019 and shares a child with his wife, Melissa Cohen.

As Trump tried to make Hunter Biden a focus of the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden said that he was proud of the strides his son had made to deal with addiction. He issued a similar defense in an interview with CNN last year, telling Jake Tapper that he was “proud” of his son for being straightforward about his battle with drug addiction.

“This is a kid who got – not a kid, he’s a grown man – he got hooked on, like many families have had happen, hooked on drugs. He’s overcome that. He’s established a new life,” Joe Biden said.

After he was elected, Joe Biden vowed to stay out of the Justice Department’s prosecutorial decision-making.

“I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do. I’m not going to be saying, go prosecute A, B or C,” Joe Biden, then the president-elect, told Tapper in December 2020.

“That’s not the role – it’s not my Justice Department. It’s the people’s Justice Department.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland told a Senate panel in 2022 that there will “not be interference” in the DOJ’s probe into Hunter Biden, and said that the president “is committed not to interfere, not only in that investigation but any other kind of investigation.”

Other investigations into Hunter Biden

Among the matters under scrutiny in the Justice Department’s probe was Hunter Biden’s efforts, after his father left the vice presidency in 2017, to secure a deal with CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects, according to documents released by Republicans from two Senate committees.

The deal ultimately fell through, according to an account Hunter Biden gave in a 2019 New Yorker profile, and the company’s executive was later detained by Chinese authorities amid allegations of corruption.

Additionally, Hunter Biden briefly was the lawyer for the head of an organization backed by CEFC who was later convicted on bribery allegations linked to CEFC.

During the Obama administration, other Hunter Biden business ventures in China raised concerns among White House officials, according to The New Yorker, which reported an equity stake Hunter Biden took in an investment fund involving US and Chinese partners.

Federal investigators also previously examined the Ukraine-linked lobbying work by Hunter Biden as well. Of specific interest was the work the lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies did with Burisma, an energy company whose board Hunter Biden served on from 2014-2019, earning as much as $50,000 a month.

Joe Biden has said that his son’s Ukraine-related dealings had no bearing on his approach to the country as vice president, when he spearheaded Ukraine anti-corruption initiatives for the United States. And State Department officials who were critical of Hunter Biden’s Ukraine activities nonetheless told lawmakers that it did not improperly influence policy-making, according to transcripts of Senate testimony.