(NEW YORK) —Hunter Biden, the president’s son, has agreed to plead guilty to a pair of tax-related misdemeanors and enter into a pretrial diversion agreement that would enable him to avoid prosecution on one felony gun charge, which would potentially end a yearslong probe, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Biden will acknowledge his failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2017 and 2018, according to the agreement. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend probation, meaning he will likely avoid prison time. For the gun charge, he will agree to pretrial diversion, with the charge being dropped if he adheres to certain terms.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.
Jun 20, 4:12 PM EDT
US attorney says he had ‘ultimate authority’ over probe in letter to Congress
The Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in the Hunter Biden investigation made clear to Congress that Attorney General Merrick Garland had granted him “ultimate authority” over the probe, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.
“While your letter does not specify by name the ongoing investigation that is the subject of the Committee’s oversight, its content suggests your inquiry is related to an investigation in my District,” U.S. Attorney David Weiss wrote in the June 7 letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
“If my assumption is correct, I want to make clear that, as the Attorney General has stated, I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution, consistent with federal law, the Principles of Federal Prosecution, and Departmental regulations,” he wrote.
In the letter, Weiss said he was asked in February 2021 to remain as U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware to continue overseeing the matter.
“Since that time, I have fulfilled my responsibilities, consistent with Department practices and procedures, and will continue to do so,” he wrote. “Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney my decisions have been made — and with respect to the matter must be made — without reference to political considerations.”
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders
Jun 20, 1:47 PM EDT
Plea deal ‘reflects the DOJ’s continued institutional independence’: Raskin
As the plea deal faces criticism from some Republican lawmakers, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the development in the Hunter Biden case “reflects the Justice Department’s continued institutional independence in following the evidence of actual crimes.”
“Oversight Committee Republicans have advanced debunked conspiracy theories about President Biden and are now, again, wailing about the work of a Trump appointed U.S. Attorney,” Raskin said in a statement. “Meanwhile, our colleagues have refused to investigate Jared Kushner and Donald Trump’s receipt of billions of dollars from autocratic regimes after handing them a string of outrageous policy favors and concessions.”
-ABC News’ Lauren Peller
Jun 20, 11:55 AM EDT
McCarthy: ‘If you are the president’s son, you get a sweetheart deal’
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave his first reaction to Hunter Biden’s plea deal this morning, telling ABC News “it continues to show the two-tiered system in America.”
“If you are the president’s leading political opponent, the DOJ tries to literally put you in jail and give you prison time,” McCarthy said.
“If you are the president’s son, you get a sweetheart deal,” he continued.
McCarthy said the development will only “enhance” their congressional investigations because the Justice Department “should not be able to withhold any information now.”
He ignored questions from ABC News about whether Congress wants to hear directly from David Weiss, the U.S. attorney appointed by Trump who conducted the investigation. A source familiar with the matter told ABC News that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland left the decision completely up to Weiss.
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Lauren Peller, Gabe Ferris and Lalee Ibssa
Jun 20, 11:55 AM EDT
Sen. Graham says plea raises questions about ‘sweetheart deal’
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top ally for former President Donald Trump, said news of Hunter Biden’s plea deal raises a lot of questions about the Department of Justice’s actions.
Graham is the first Senate Republican to comment on camera since news of the guilty plea broke.
“This has taken over four years. And to wind up with tax evasion and a gun charge, there will be a lot of questions. And the one question that people ask: Is this a sweetheart deal?” Graham said while talking to reporters at a press conference in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
-ABC News’ Allie Pecorin
Jun 20, 11:02 AM EDT
Hunter Biden takes responsibility for ‘mistakes’
Hunter Biden, in a statement released by his lawyer Chris Clark, confirmed he was set to plead guilty to the tax charges and enter a pretrial diversion program for the gun possession charge.
“I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life,” Clark said in a statement. “He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”
Jun 20, 10:45 AM EDT
AG Garland declines to comment, left decision on deal to Weiss
A spokesperson for Attorney General Merrick Garland declined to comment when asked about the plea deal reached with Hunter Biden.
Garland is currently overseas in Stockholm, Sweden for the EU/US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting.
The decision to enter this deal was entirely left to U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ discretion, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Garland has previously told Congress that Weiss had full authority to bring whatever charges he may deem proper in accordance with DOJ’s guidelines.
He has also testified repeatedly that Weiss’ investigation has remained free from any improper political interference, which he affirmed in a press conference last month when asked about allegations by a purported IRS whistleblower who has sought to alert congressional leaders about potential misconduct in DOJ’s handling of the probe.
-ABC News’ Alexander Mallin
Jun 20, 10:33 AM EDT
Republicans on Capitol Hill vow to continue investigation into Bidens
While the federal investigation is over, the investigations will continue on Capitol Hill. The investigative committees have indicated they intend to keep pursuing Hunter Biden’s business dealings in foreign countries and whether he was trading on his family name.
The chair of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer, R-Ky., issued a statement saying this reveals a “two-tiered system of Justice” and calls it just a “slap on the wrist.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted it was a “stunt” to make Hunter Biden “look like he is just cooperating with DOJ.”
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders
Jun 20, 10:21 AM EDT
Trump calls plea agreement ‘a mere traffic ticket’
Former President Donald Trump, who was defeated by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election and could face him again in 2024, has posted to his Truth Social, calling the plea agreement “a mere ‘traffic ticket"” and saying “Our system is broken.”
Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for pro-Trump super PAC Make America Great Again Inc., called it a “sweetheart deal” and added, “The American people need President Trump back in office to appoint a truly independent special prosecutor that will finally bring justice.”
-ABC News’ Soorin Kim
Jun 20, 10:16 AM EDT
President, first lady say they ‘love’ and ‘support’ son
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have released a statement through a spokesperson supporting their son.
“The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life,” White House spokesperson Ian Sam said in a statement. “We will have no further comment.”
Jun 20, 10:08 AM EDT
Plea agreement could end yearslong probe
Federal authorities with the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware, led by U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump-era appointee, opened their investigation into Hunter Biden in 2018. The investigation spilled into public view in December of 2020, shortly after Joe Biden secured the presidency, when Hunter Biden confirmed the probe into his “tax affairs.”
Prosecutors have since examined a range of potential crimes as part of their investigation and brought several witnesses before a federal grand jury empaneled in Wilmington, Delaware.
The impetus for the probe and investigators’ primary focus was whether Hunter Biden paid adequate taxes on millions of dollars of his income. The younger Biden paid off at least one significant tax liability of nearly $2 million in 2021 with the help of a Los Angeles-based entertainment lawyer name Kevin Morris, ABC News has reported.
Beyond his taxes, investigators scrutinized a gun application form signed by Hunter Biden in 2018. On the form, he checked a box indicating he was not an “unlawful user” of drugs, despite later acknowledging that he was indeed addicted to crack cocaine around that time, ABC News has reported.
A Yale-trained lawyer, Hunter Biden repeatedly said he was cooperating with investigators and remained “100% certain” that he would be cleared of any wrongdoing. Joe Biden has said he’s never spoken to his son about his foreign business and recently said Hunter Biden “has done nothing wrong.” There are no indications that the federal investigation involved the president in any way.
The White House has repeatedly sought to distance the president from the probe, and Attorney General Merrick Garland assured Congress that there would not be “interference of any political or improper kind.”
Jun 20, 10:05 AM EDT
Hunter Biden to plead guilty to tax charges, enter pretrial program for gun charge
Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has agreed to plead guilty to a pair of tax-related misdemeanors as part of a deal that would potentially end a politically fraught and yearslong probe into his personal and professional life, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Under an agreement negotiated with the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware, the younger Biden, 53, will acknowledge his failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2017 and 2018. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend probation, meaning he will likely avoid prison time.
The agreement also includes what is known as a pretrial diversion for one felony count related to illegal possession of a firearm, which would not require Hunter Biden to submit a plea on that charge and stipulates that prosecutors would agree to drop it if he adheres to certain terms over a specified period of time.
If a federal judge accepts the deal, Tuesday’s development would mark the conclusion of an investigation that has dogged not only Hunter Biden, but also his father, whose political foes have latched onto the younger Biden’s overseas business dealings to level allegations depicting the entire Biden family as corrupt.
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