A federal judge in Delaware dismissed tax misdemeanor charges against first son Hunter Biden on Thursday, a pro forma move weeks after a plea agreement between the Justice Department and Biden’s attorneys blew up, new filings show.
US District Judge Maryellen Noreika granted without prejudice a motion from the office of Delaware US Attorney — and newly elevated special counsel — David Weiss to withdraw its case against the 53-year-old first son after prosecutors said last Friday he would likely have to stand trial in either Washington, DC, or Southern California.
Plea talks broke down between Hunter’s legal team and federal prosecutors following a July 26 hearing, during which Noreika pressed both parties about the scope of their agreement, including potential immunity for past crimes.
Under persistent questioning from Noreika, prosecutors said such charges could include alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act — prompting Biden attorney Chris Clark to declare the deal “null and void.”
Prominent Democratic attorney Abbe Lowell, who replaced Clark in the case after representing the first son in paternity and defamation disputes, did not oppose the dismissal.
In a separate motion, Noreika also denied a request from Hunter’s lawyers and unsealed filings submitted last month by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) that record IRS whistleblower allegations of political interference in the case.
Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel Aug. 11, which would give him additional investigative powers and broad authority to charge outside his jurisdiction.
IRS investigators testified to Congress before the July plea hearing that Weiss said US Attorneys Matthew Graves and E. Martin Estrada, who were appointed by President Biden, blocked him from bringing charges in DC and California.
The whistleblowers — IRS supervisory agent Gary Shapley and IRS special agent Joseph Ziegler — said prosecutors had recommended bringing tax fraud charges against Hunter over $2.2 million he owed on $8.3 million he earned from 2014 to 2019.
They also alleged that investigators were blocked from pursuing lines of questioning on the president’s knowledge of his son’s business dealings — and were barred from interviewing Hunter or searching his storage unit.
Former President Donald Trump nominated Weiss to serve as Delaware US attorney in 2017, and Biden kept the prosecutor in place after taking office in 2021.
Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), both Biden allies, suggested Weiss’ nomination to Trump.
On June 20, Weiss’ office announced the plea agreement, which would have had Hunter plead guilty and serve two years of probation for missed payments on $1.5 million in income he earned in 2017 and 2018.
The deal also allowed the first son to enter a diversion program for a felony gun charge after he unlawfully purchased a firearm while addicted to crack cocaine.
The diversion included a provision to prevent federal prosecutors from charging the younger Biden for crimes committed since 2014.
Republicans criticized the move as a “sweetheart deal” for the first son and have disagreed with Garland’s decision to keep Weiss on the case as special counsel. They have also floated the possibility of impeaching Biden.
The attorney general and Weiss have repeatedly told Republican lawmakers that the Delaware office had “ultimate authority” to bring whatever charges it sought in the case.
Biden has made shifting public statements about his son’s business affairs, by turns saying he either did not discuss those matters or was not involved.
Hunter Biden lived at the White House between June 21 and July 5, the Washington Post reported Thursday, during which time cocaine was found at the executive mansion and he accompanied his father on two trips to Camp David.
The Secret Service never announced a suspect in the cocaine investigation and it was closed within a week.