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.
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.
Judge defers plea deal
U.S. Judge Maryellen Noreika deferred the plea deal negotiated by Hunter Biden's attorneys and federal prosecutors after a contentious hearing, taking issue with the structure of the arrangement and lamenting on multiple occasions the deal's "form over substance."
In the interim, Hunter Biden entered a not guilty plea. Noreika requested additional briefings from the parties in the coming weeks before determining next steps.
"I'm not going to say I'm going to accept the agreement, I'm not going to say I'll deny it," she said.
The three-hour hearing featured several turbulent interludes. Noreika's line of questioning about an immunity agreement exposed fissures between the two parties, with the discussion culminating in prosecutors threatening to bring foreign agent charges, prompting Chris Clark, an attorney for Biden, to say: "As far as I'm concerned, the plea agreement is null and void."
After a brief recess, the parties moved past those disagreements. Clark acquiesced to the government's position that any immunity of Hunter Biden would only include tax, firearm, and drug-related conduct investigated by the government.
Judge Noreika asked the parties to consult and brief her in the coming weeks.
In the understatement of the day, Noreika acknowledged that her probing threw "a little bit of a curveball" into the proceeding.
Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to charges after deal falls apart
In a dramatic scene in court, the plea deal struck by Hunter Biden fell apart amid the judge's concerns over the terms of the agreement.
Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges.
U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika had raised concerns about the parties linking the tax plea agreement to the deal on the gun charge, and over whether or not a provision in the deal would grant Hunter Biden blanket immunity, meaning that the government would not prosecute him further.
No plea deal amid judge's concerns
There is no plea deal in the Hunter Biden case.