Hunter Biden pleads not guilty at arraignment on tax charges

The president’s son was arraigned in federal court on 9 tax-related charges.

January 11, 2024, 5:29 PM

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden entered a not guilty plea to 9 felony and misdemeanor tax charges at his initial appearance in a California courtroom on Thursday.

The plea was entered by Hunter Biden himself during an arraignment in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.

His plea came a day after he made a surprise appearance at a Capitol Hill hearing on whether to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The younger Biden appeared before Judge Mark Scarsi at the First Street U.S. Courthouse to be arraigned on 9 tax-related charges accusing him of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes from 2016 to 2019.

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden rides in a vehicle as it leaves federal court in Los Angeles, on Jan. 11, 2024.
Eric Thayer/AP

The judge on Thursday set a June 20 trial date. The government did not appose the trial timing, but Hunter's team said they're "not quite as certain" regarding timing and cited a separate indictment in Delaware on felony gun charges.

The parties also again discussed the failed plea deal that led to the tax indictment last month. At one point during the 30-minute hearing, an attorney for Hunter Biden stood to express frustration with the plea deal falling apart, saying "we had a resolution of this case in 2023 and then things happened."

The government pushed back, saying: "pleas fall apart all the time."

The next hearing is set for March 27. Motions are due Feb. 20.

Federal police officers keep watch with a dog in front of the federal courthouse where Hunter Biden is appearing on tax charges, on Jan. 11, 2024, in Los Angeles.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Hunter was released on the same conditions as the Delaware case, which include no possession of firearms and no alcohol or bond. He must submit to a drug or alcohol test if necessary.

The indictment on tax charges from December alleges that the president's son earned millions of dollars from foreign entities in Ukraine, Romania, and China, and "spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle at the same time he chose not to pay his taxes."

The back taxes were eventually paid in 2020 by a third party, identified by ABC News as Hunter Biden's attorney and confidant Kevin Morris.

The charges came after an initial plea deal fell apart in dramatic fashion in a Delaware federal courtroom last July, after the judge expressed concerns over the terms of the agreement.

Hunter Biden subsequently pleaded not guilty in October to three felony gun charges as part of a separate indictment in Delaware that came after a diversion agreement on one of the gun charges fell apart alongside the initial plea deal. He has since moved to have those charges dismissed.

The indictment was brought by special counsel David Weiss, a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware who had been investigating Hunter Biden and was named special counsel over the summer.

Hunter Biden, accompanied by his attorney Abbe Lowell, left, leaves a House Oversight Committee hearing as Republicans are taking the first step toward holding him in contempt of Congress, Jan. 10, 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Jose Luis Magana/AP

In response to the tax charges, Hunter Biden's attorney, Abbe Lowell, claimed the December indictment included "no new evidence" and said, "Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter's last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought."

Hunter Biden's court appearance in California on Thursday comes a day after he surprised lawmakers in Washington by showing up in person to a House Oversight committee hearing on whether to hold him in contempt after he refused a subpoena to testify in a closed-door session as part of a GOP-led probe into his family's business affairs.

The younger Biden, whose appearance caught Republicans on the committee completely by surprise, said that he would be willing to testify in a public forum.

Lowell, speaking to reporters after leaving the hearing room Wednesday, accused Republicans of caring "little about the truth" and trying to "hold someone in contempt, who has offered to publicly answer all their proper questions."

"Hunter Biden was and is a private citizen," Lowell said. "Despite this, Republicans have sought to use him as a surrogate to attack his father."

A White House spokesperson has said that President Biden "was never in business with his son." In 2019, as a presidential candidate, Biden said, "I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”

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