House Republicans launch investigation of Hunter Biden's deferred plea deal

Federal prosecutors have previously defended their work.

August 1, 2023, 8:37 AM

House Republicans have launched an inquiry into the Justice Department's plea deal with Hunter Biden, which was put on hold after falling apart in court last week.

Three Republican-led House committees -- the Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means panels -- sent a letter on Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding information and documents related to the agreement struck by federal prosecutors and President Joe Biden's son.

The letter was signed by the chairs of the three committees, Reps. Jim Jordan, James Comer and Jason Smith.

"Given recent unusual events relating to the Department’s plea and pretrial diversion agreements with Mr. Biden, we write to better understand the Department’s decision to sign off on such apparently atypical agreements," the lawmakers wrote.

They singled out two provisions of the deal, which U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika deferred following an hourslong hearing in Delaware on Wednesday.

The provisions highlighted in the letter included a paragraph that, according to the committee chairs, would have required prosecutors to get Noreika's permission in order to pursue charges if Hunter Biden were to breach the agreement; and, in the other paragraph, apparently could have extended some broader criminal immunity to Hunter Biden.

Hunter Biden had originally agreed to acknowledge his failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2017 and 2018. In exchange, prosecutors would have recommended probation, meaning he would likely have avoided prison time.

PHOTO: Hunter Biden departs federal court after a plea hearing on two misdemeanor charges of willfully failing to pay income taxes in Wilmington, Delaware, July 26, 2023.
Hunter Biden departs federal court after a plea hearing on two misdemeanor charges of willfully failing to pay income taxes in Wilmington, Delaware, July 26, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Hunter Biden also would have agreed to a pretrial diversion on a separate gun charge, with the charge being dropped if he adhered to certain terms.

However, at Wednesday's hearing as his deal was put on pause, Hunter Biden instead pleaded not guilty to the tax charges.

In the courtroom, Noreika repeatedly criticized the plea deal's "form over substance."

She ultimately requested additional briefing, giving the parties 30 days to resolve any outstanding issues.

Under questioning by the judge, prosecutors confirmed at the hearing that Hunter Biden is still under investigation after a five-year probe.

The House committees on Monday called on the Department of Justice to submit a “generalized description of the nature of the Department’s ongoing investigation(s) concerning Hunter Biden” along with “an explanation of why the Department originally agreed to a plea agreement if other investigation(s) concerning Hunter Biden are ongoing.”

“The Department’s unusual plea and pretrial diversion agreements with Mr. Biden raise serious concerns ... that the Department has provided preferential treatment toward Mr. Biden,” the Republican chairs wrote.

Federal prosecutors have previously pushed back on claims that they were constrained or acted abnormally in how they handled Hunter Biden's case.

Representatives for Hunter Biden did not respond to a request for comment.

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