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Hunter Biden attorneys return to court as he seeks to have tax charges tossed

A federal judge appeared sceptical of arguments put forward by lawyers for the president’s son in Los Angeles

Gustaf Kilander
Washington DC
,Mike Bedigan
Wednesday 27 March 2024 23:50 GMT
Related video: Hunter Biden provides combative testimony to House panel

The federal judge overseeing an attempt by Hunter Biden to dismiss tax charges against him appeared sceptical of arguments put forward by lawyers for the president’s son in Los Angeles, saying there was little evidence that special counsel David Weiss had been influenced by Republicans.

The office of Mr Weiss has accused 54-year-old Mr Biden of not paying taxes on millions in income from business dealings abroad. Mr Biden, who was not present at the hearing on Wednesday, pleaded not guilty earlier this year.

Mr Biden has moved to dismiss the tax charges against him “because Special Counsel Weiss was Unlawfully Appointed and This Prosecution Violates the Appropriations Clause” and “for Selective and Vindictive Prosecution and Breach of Separation of Powers” and “for Due Process Violations Based on Outrageous Government Conduct”, according to a court schedule.

Mr Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell has argued in court filings that the indictment came after political pressure from Republicans.

Mr Weiss responded that Mr Biden “testified to Congress that the Special Counsel had undermined the impeachment inquiry conducted by House Republicans”.

“Which is it?” he asked. “Indeed, the defendant has no evidence to support his shapeshifting claims because the Special Counsel continues to pursue the fair, evenhanded administration of the federal criminal laws.”

The trial has been scheduled for 20 June.

On Wednesday, US District Judge Mark Scarsi said there did not “seem to be any evidence” that efforts by Republicans to pressure special counsel Weiss “influenced the prosecutors’ decision other than the timeline. The judge likened the motion to some “smoke” but without sufficient “fire,” ABC News reported.

Mr Lowell later conceded that he had no direct evidence of GOP influence, but asked the court to investigate the matter further and “connect the dots.”

He also highlighted the significance of the timeline of proceedings he had filed – which includes allegations made by House Republicans and two IRS whistleblowers in an effort to demonstrate that Mr Weiss gave in to political pressure.

“It’s a timeline, but it’s a pretty juicy timeline,” Mr Lowell said.

A 56-page indictment was filed in December last year outlining how Mr Biden, struggling with addiction, spent his money on an extravagant lifestyle – on “everything but his taxes,” prosecutors wrote at the time.

The taxes and penalties were subsequently paid back by Hunter Biden’s personal attorney Kevin Morris, ABC News noted. The charges may lead to as much as 17 years behind bars. They include six misdemeanours and three felonies, such as tax evasion and filing a false return.

Mr Biden has also pleaded not guilty to three gun charges brought by Mr Weiss and his office in Delaware, a case also expected to go to trial in June.

The tax indictment includes allegations that Mr Biden didn’t pay at least $1.4m in federal taxes that he owed between 2016 and 2019.

The legal filing came late last year after a plea deal fell apart in July 2023 which was supposed to see Mr Biden admitting to some tax and firearm offences in exchange for avoiding prison time.

On Wednesday Judge Scarsi also suggested that any promise of immunity made by the deal should not be valid once it had fallen apart.

A “natural reading” of the agreement document suggested that it wasn’t fully implemented because it was missing an approval signature from the Delaware probation office, Judge Scarsi said.

Congressional Republicans have used Mr Biden’s legal problems, past drug use, and foreign business dealings to open an impeachment inquiry into the president, despite there being no evidence supporting any links to the elder Biden.

The nine tax charges were filed against Mr Biden on 7 December. The legal filing stated that he “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4m in self-assessed federal taxes”.

This second indictment against Mr Biden includes allegations that he didn’t file or pay his taxes and that he also evaded assessment, with prosecutors claiming that he instead used the money to pay for “drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature”.

Mr Biden “individually received more than $7 million in total gross income” between 2016 and October 2020, the indictment stated. But Mr Biden “willfully failed to pay his 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 taxes on time, despite having access to funds to pay some or all of these taxes”, the prosecutors added in the legal filing.

After getting a loan from his personal lawyer, Mr Biden paid all his due taxes and fines in 2020.

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