Is Hunter Biden headed for another plea deal? The president’s son appeared to have reached a plea bargain before it fell apart in July. A new report suggested that his saga may still end without a trial.
The Hunter Biden Saga Continues…
Hunter Biden, the son of the president, appeared to have reached a deal with the Justice Department earlier this summer, which would have allowed him to almost certainly avoid jail.
However, the deal fell apart in court on the day in late July that it was supposed to be ratified, with the sides apparently now moving toward a trial, although no formal criminal charges have been filed.
Over the weekend, both the New York Times and Politico reported play-to-plays of how exactly the deal fell apart. At one point, the Politico version revealed, Hunter’s attorney suggested putting the president on the witness stand in his son’s defense.
Both reports concluded that there had been a misunderstanding between the sides about exactly how much immunity Hunter would receive from future prosecution. As a result, U.S. Attorney David Weiss was named special counsel for the case.
Will Hunter Biden inevitably go to trial, possibly during an election year? Not necessarily.
That’s the conclusion of an analysis published this week in Slate, by Martin J. Sheil, who happens to be a former IRS agent. The piece argues that the collapse of the deal and the appointment of Weiss as special counsel, rather than a trial, could lead to another plea bargain, albeit one not quite as lenient towards Hunter Biden as the first one.
“The move gives him the option to charge Biden with tax felonies in a different jurisdiction and to perhaps compel Biden’s team back to the table, under far less favorable terms,” Sheil writes. “No one really wants to deal with the time, expense, inconvenience, and high risk of a trial, but sometimes the very real threat of a trial is exactly the right impetus for both sides to engage in serious plea negotiations.”
The writer also predicted how things might end up, in part because when a potential defendant has already paid their taxes in full, which Hunter has, that is usually dealt with by “ civil enforcement remedies by the IRS, rather than prosecution.
“The special counsel seems likely to elevate Hunter Biden’s previous two failure-to-pay misdemeanor counts to felony willful failure to pay taxes or evasion of income tax payment charges. Weiss, however, might be looking to force a new plea deal, rather than actually take such a case to trial,” he writes.
The question, however, will be how much intent Hunter had when it came to not paying his taxes in the past, including when he was in the throes of the worst of his drug addiction. A conviction may require Weiss to prove that Hunter made an active choice to not pay his taxes.
“Should the special counsel opt to charge felony tax violations in this reset, he will be required to produce evidence of willful intent with regard to Biden’s failure to pay. Failure to pay taxes is generally a misdemeanor case, but it can be elevated to a felony evasion-of-payment charge if there exists sufficient evidence of that willful intent,” he writes.
Because the president’s son likely would prefer to avoid jail, and the government would like to avoid the embarrassment of an acquittal in court, there are incentives for both sides to agree to a plea bargain. So how will it shake out?
“One potential resolution could look like this: The government could offer, and the Biden team might accept, a plea to one count of subscribing to a false tax return in addition to one count of making a false statement regarding his 2018 gun purchase,” the piece says. “Those on Biden’s legal team could then negotiate a Club Fed prison stay to allow their client to work on his paintings and tennis strokes for a few months before getting out.”
Also this week, The Washington Post reported that David Weiss, the special counsel, worked on some cases with Hunter Biden’s late brother, Beau, when Weiss was assistant U.S. attorney and Beau was Delaware’s attorney general. Both are from Delaware, although Beau Biden’s former chief of staff told the newspaper that he did not believe the two men were close outside of work.
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.
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