GOP try to block Hunter Biden plea deal at Delaware court hearing

11 months ago 16

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Republican lawmakers have made a last-ditch bid to block Hunter Biden’s plea deal ahead of a court hearing in Delaware where he will plead guilty to two federal charges.

In a court filing in Wilmington on Tuesday, the GOP chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep Jason Smith asked the judge to throw out the plea agreement claiming that testimony from two Internal Revenue Service (IRS) whistleblowers show the deal is “tainted”.

The IRS whistleblowers had testified before the committee that Hunter Biden was given preferential treatment in the criminal case by the Justice Department due to his position as President Joe Biden’s son.

“The situation here is not that the Justice Department exercised charging or plea negotiation discretion, but the presence of credible allegations that the investigation, charging decisions and plea negotiations were tainted by improper conduct at various levels of the government,” Mr Smith’s attorney wrote in the filing, obtained by The New York Times.

A second brief to block the plea deal was also filed by conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation – which previously demanded the US visa records of Prince Harry after he documented drug-taking in his memoir.

Last month, Hunter Biden reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to two federal tax misdemeanours, after he failed to pay his taxes on time in 2017 and 2018.

As part of the deal, he will also avoid prosecution on a gun charge.

The president’s son is scheduled to appear in federal court in Wilmington on Wednesday morning where he will enter pleas on the charges.

Under the deal, he is expected to be handed a suspended sentence – avoiding any jail time.

Republican attempts to have the plea deal tossed are unlikely to succeed as judges rarely refuse to accept deals struck between prosecutors and defendants.

However, the filing did kick off a firestorm in the case, which culminated in the judge threatening to sanction Hunter Biden’s attorneys.

After the motion was filed on Tuesday, a member of Hunter Biden’s legal team “misrepresented her identity and who she worked for in an attempt to improperly convince the Clerk’s Office to remove the amicus materials from the docket”, according to a court order from US District Judge Maryellen Noreika.

The judge claimed the attorney had called the court clerk claiming to work with Mr Smith’s attorney and asking that the documents be taken down from the public docket.

Judge Noreika warned that Hunter Biden’s attorneys could face sanctions over the incident.

Hunter Biden boards Air Force One with the president in February 2023

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Hunter Biden’s legal team responded to the court order by denying they had intentionally misled the court, claiming that the mishap was the result of an “an unfortunate and unintentional miscommunication” between the attorney and court clerk.

Ultimately, Mr Smith’s filing was sealed at the request of Hunter Biden’s attorneys, who had argued that it contains confidential taxpayer information.

The unusual last-minute attempt to thwart proceedings in the plea agreement comes as Republicans repeatedly try to attack the Democratic president via his son.

First, they tried to tie Mr Biden to his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and China – without producing any evidence.

Then, GOP members slammed the plea agreement as a “sweetheart deal” and claimed Hunter Biden had been given special treatment by prosecutors.

Now, in response to the backlash, the lead prosecutor in the case has offered to testify publicly before Congress.

In a letter sent to Rep Jim Jordan on Monday, the DOJ said US Attorney David Weiss can be made available to testify before the House Judiciary Committee for a public hearing after the August break.

“The Department believes it is strongly in the public interest for the American people and for Congress to hear directly from US Attorney Weiss on these assertions and questions about his authority at a public hearing,” the letter read.

Republicans are demanding that the interview take place behind closed doors.

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