Judge Appears Skeptical of Hunter Biden’s Motion to Dismiss Tax Charges

Judge Appears Skeptical of Hunter Biden’s Motion to Dismiss Tax Charges

Hunter Biden (L), son of President Joe Biden, arrives with attorney Abbe Lowell at the O'Neill House Office Building for a closed-door deposition in a Republican-led investigation into the Biden family, on Capitol Hill on Feb. 28, 2024. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

3/27/2024

Updated: 3/28/2024

LOS ANGELES—A federal judge questioned a lack of evidence provided by attorneys representing President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden during a hearing in Los Angeles on March 27 as they sought to have several tax-related charges dropped.
Judge Mark Scarsi heard arguments from Mr. Biden’s lawyers for several hours about their eight motions filed to dismiss the case. Many of the claims were not backed by factual evidence, including the allegation that the charges were politically motivated, the judge said.
“There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that anything in Congress or the whistleblowers influenced the prosecution,” Judge Scarsi told Mr. Biden’s lead attorney, Abbe Lowell, during a discussion about his claim that Mr. Biden was selectively prosecuted.
Mr. Lowell admitted that he didn’t have evidence but claimed “rank partisans” were pushing for the charges.
“I don’t have transparency, but I have ‘connect the dots’ evidence,” Mr. Lowell said.
A ruling on the motions—including claims that Los Angeles is an improper venue, the special counsel was not funded correctly, and there has been outrageous government conduct—is expected by April 17.
Mr. Biden is facing a maximum of up to 17 years in prison if convicted on all charges related to evading $1.4 million in taxes over a three-year period when he was in the throes of an illegal drug addiction.
During arguments on March 27, his attorney called the case the “least ordinary prosecution a person can imagine,” saying that Republicans, the media, and Russian disinformation were the driving force behind the charges.
“There’s nothing regular about how this case was initiated and investigated,” Mr. Lowell said.
He also claimed that the case should be tossed out because the two sides agreed to sign a plea agreement in Mr. Biden’s Delaware case that involves tax charges and a firearm-related charge. The government threw out the plea agreement, and it was not finalized. The government has moved ahead with a trial in that case.
The defense argued that the plea agreement gave Mr. Biden immunity from criminal prosecutions over charges related to taxes, guns, and drugs. Government prosecutors disputed this claim, noting that the plea agreement was never signed.
Mr. Biden’s team also offered a timeline instead of evidence to back up allegations of outrageous government conduct, alleging that IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, and Republicans, were behind the three felony counts and six misdemeanor counts filed against Mr. Biden in Los Angeles after the Delaware plea deal was abandoned.
The Los Angeles case is the result of a multi-year investigation by Special Counsel David Weiss, who watched the March 27 court session from the gallery.
Lead criminal prosecutor Leo Wise agreed with the judge, saying that the motions lacked facts.
“In all the motions, they say we have bad motives. They saw we were sloppy, we sat on our hands until the partisan interference,” Mr. Wise told the judge. “This is not true. We didn’t need to gin up an indictment.”
Mr. Weiss started investigating Mr. Biden, now 54, in 2019. He was appointed as a U.S. attorney by then-President Donald Trump and continued working on the case under President Biden. Attorney General Merrick Garland made Mr. Weiss a special counsel in 2023.
A grand jury indicted Mr. Biden in December 2023, charging him with three felony and six misdemeanor tax offenses related to his international business dealings. He has since paid his back taxes plus penalties, according to his attorneys.
Mr. Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges on Jan. 11 and was released on his own recognizance, promising to register for pre-trial probation, seek employment, refrain from alcohol and drug use, and not possess a firearm.
During his campaign for reelection, President Biden has stood staunchly by his son as he faced investigations and indictments related to his businesses. In 2023, he told MSNBC that his son did “nothing wrong.”
“First of all, my son’s done nothing wrong,” the president said in June 2023. “I trust him. I have faith in him. And it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.”
Both of the cases could be heard a few months before Americans vote in the 2024 presidential election, which is shaping up to be another close race between President Biden, who is mired in an impeachment probe, and former President Donald Trump, who faces four criminal trials.
A jury trial is set to begin on June 20 in Los Angeles if Mr. Biden’s case is not dismissed.
He could also face trial as soon as June 3 in Delaware over an alleged firearm purchase while he was using illegal drugs. Mr. Biden pleaded not guilty to lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a federal form used to buy a gun that he said he later threw in a dumpster.
He is also asking the judge to dismiss the charges in that case. U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika is still reportedly weighing his motions asking to toss out the case.
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

Author

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.