District Judge Maryellen Noreika has granted approval to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request to drop charges against Hunter Biden in Delaware on Thursday, allowing prosecutors to refile the charges in a different jurisdiction.
Last week, federal prosecutors submitted a motion explaining that Hunter Biden’s case was likely to proceed to trial and sought to dismiss the Delaware charges due to a deadlock in plea negotiations. They argued that the appropriate venues for the tax-related charges were either the Central District of California or the District of Columbia.
Initially, Hunter Biden had agreed to a plea deal involving two misdemeanor tax charges and a diversion arrangement to avoid imprisonment for a felony gun offense. However, the deal fell apart during a hearing on July 26, when Judge Noreika discovered a section in the diversion agreement that promised broad immunity for potential future charges.
If charges are filed in a different district, Hunter Biden’s case would be overseen by a judge other than Noreika. She was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2018 and confirmed with the support of Delaware’s Democratic senators.
Responding to the DOJ’s motion, Republican Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton tweeted last week, “Biden’s DOJ wants to dismiss the charges against Hunter, supposedly to refile them elsewhere, no doubt before some liberal judge who will rubber-stamp a sweetheart deal. Remember, when Biden’s DOJ and Hunter’s lawyers meet, they’re not negotiating. They’re conspiring.”
In an August 13 filing, Hunter Biden’s legal team stated that the terms of his plea deal and pretrial diversion agreement were largely influenced by DOJ prosecutors. They argued that the diversion agreement remained valid and binding.
Special Counsel David Weiss countered in an August 15 filing, asserting that the diversion agreement was no longer in effect and that Hunter Biden’s interpretation of the agreement as providing broad immunity was “a problem entirely of their own making” that did not result from drafting the agreements.
Lawyers for Hunter Biden argued that the prosecutors didn’t honor the plea agreement set in June. Following the deal’s breakdown, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss will serve as special counsel for the ongoing Biden investigation.
Garland’s recent appointment of a special counsel to delve into the investigation concerning the president’s son lets Weiss initiate charges beyond Delaware. Weiss had approached Garland for this appointment a few days prior, according to reports.
Before the potential deal’s breakdown, Hunter Biden had provisionally consented to plead guilty for not paying taxes for the years 2017 and 2018. Court records indicate that during these years, Biden, a Washington resident, accrued over $1.5 million in taxable income, resulting in tax dues exceeding $100,000, which he failed to remit promptly.
The court’s decision is in response to a legal motion to vacate the court’s briefing order. This caused some legal observers to suspect that Biden’s Department of Justice is seeking to get the Hunter Biden case out of Judge Noreika’s court and into a friendlier venue for the president’s son.