Hunter Biden hearing: No plea as judge refuses to 'rubber-stamp' deal

The judge deferred a plea deal after a contentious hearing.

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden appeared in a Delaware courthouse today to formally agree to the plea deal he negotiated last month with federal prosecutors, but the deal fell apart.


Attorneys have 30 days to submit briefs

No date has been set for a follow-up hearing after the judge deferred a decision on the plea deal at today's hearing.

The judge gave both parties 30 days to submit briefs meant to assuage the concerns she so thoroughly expressed in court, after attorneys for both parties, toward the end of the proceeding, agreed to hash out some of the judge's concerns.

A spokesperson for Hunter Biden's legal team says they do not plan to comment on Wednesday's hearing.


McCarthy, more lawmakers weigh in on Hunter Biden

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reacted Wednesday to Hunter Biden's plea dealing being deferred for the time being.

He reiterated his allegation that the president's son has received different treatment from prosecutors, which the Department of Justice has pushed back on.

"There shouldn't be two justice systems in America, and hopefully today that's what is being done," McCarthy said.

"So now is the window to show that we have equal justice, and that's the real question ... is it going to be fair as you treat every other American? That will be the question," McCarthy said as he left the House floor.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said Wednesday that he hoped Hunter Biden will "acknowledge his responsibility for the proceeding" and that the outcome will be "fair and just."

-ABC News' Allison Pecorin and Lauren Peller


White House comments on deferred plea deal

At the top of her briefing on Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented on "the news in Delaware today," as she called it, emphasizing that "Hunter Biden is a private citizen ... this was a personal matter for him," and saying the case was handled by a prosecutor appointed by former President Trump.

"As we have said, the president, the first lady, they love their son and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life," Jean-Pierre said. "This case was handled independently, as all of you know, by the Justice Department."

-ABC News' Ben Gittleson



Judge said she wouldn't 'rubber-stamp' the deal

Judge Noreika scrutinized nearly every facet of the plea deal before deciding to defer the agreement so the parties could reconvene at a later date.

The hearing was punctuated by multiple recesses, during which lawyers scrambled to negotiate their way out of the deal's divergent perspectives.

A visibly agitated Hunter Biden spent much of the time shifting between sitting and standing, summoning members of his legal team to discuss developments. Across the room, U.S. Attorney David Weiss appeared to share his demeanor.

Toward the end of the hearing, Noreika herself lashed out, repeatedly saying she felt as though she was being asked to "rubber-stamp" the deal.

In the end, she did not.


Republicans urge judge to block Hunter Biden plea deal

Republicans embarked on a long shot bid in the hours leading up to Hunter Biden's expected arrival in court to press Judge Maryellen Noreika to consider denying his plea agreement until the court reviews testimony from a pair of IRS whistleblowers.

Those whistleblowers, according to an attorney for the GOP-led House Ways and Means Committee in court documents filed Tuesday, have said the younger Biden "appears to have benefitted from political interference which calls into question the propriety of the investigation."

Experts said it would be exceedingly rare for the judge to deny a plea deal negotiated in good faith. But Theodore Kittila, the attorney for the House panel, wrote that the judge should “evaluate” the IRS whistleblowers’ remarks before ruling, claiming that “plea negotiations were tainted by improper conduct at various levels of government.”

The judge did not indicate whether she would consider Republicans’ arguments at Wednesday’s hearing.

Republican lawmakers have for weeks publicly decried Hunter Biden’s plea agreement as a “sweetheart deal” and called on the judge to either delay Wednesday’s hearing or reject it outright. Experts have told ABC News that both scenarios are unlikely.

ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman