Judge rejects Hunter Biden’s bid to dismiss tax charges

The ruling tees up a likely federal trial in California this summer.

A federal judge in California ruled against Hunter Biden on Monday, rejecting eight motions filed by the president’s son to dismiss the criminal tax charges against him.

Judge Mark Scarsi turned aside a series of efforts by the younger Biden to scuttle the charges against him, including a claim that the lead prosecutor — special counsel David Weiss — was improperly appointed and that the charges were vindictive and motivated by a pressure campaign from Republicans.

Scarsi’s ruling means Biden will likely go on trial beginning on June 20, which is the tentative start date the judge had previously set. Biden also faces criminal charges in Delaware over an alleged gun purchase. The judge overseeing that case, Maryellen Noreika, has not yet ruled on a batch of motions that mirror many of the arguments Scarsi rejected on Monday. If she takes the same view as Scarsi, then Biden’s Delaware trial will likely begin on June 3, before the California proceedings.

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On Dec. 7, 2023, prosecutors accused Biden of willfully failing to pay his taxes and to file tax returns on time, as well as tax evasion and filing fraudulent tax forms. Biden’s team has said he paid the taxes, though belatedly, with penalties and interest. They have also said he struggled with debilitating drug addiction at the time.

Biden and prosecutors nearly resolved the criminal investigation last summer, when they negotiated a two-part deal in which the president’s son would plead guilty to tax misdemeanors and enter an agreement intended to revoke a gun charge. The deal included a commitment from the Justice Department that Biden would not face criminal charges related to the alleged financial crimes and a gun purchase if he upheld his end of the bargain. Weiss and Biden both signed the document before a hearing on the deal. But the agreement frayed after that hearing, when Noreika, the Delaware judge, raised questions about its scope and enforcement.

Biden’s lawyers argued that the agreement is binding, citing Weiss’s signature. But prosecutors noted that the agreement also included a line for the probation officer to sign, and that she did not do so. One Justice Department lawyer also told Scarsi that the officer pointedly refused to sign the document before the hearing.

Scarsi — who was appointed to the bench by then-President Donald Trump — sided with prosecutors, denying Biden’s motion after laying out a detailed discussion of contract law.

He also handed down pointed criticism of accusations from Biden’s team that prosecutors engaged in “selective and vindictive prosecution.” In that motion, Biden’s lawyers argued that the Justice Department brought charges because of political pressure from Trump’s allies, including in Congress. But Scarsi wrote that the motion merited immediate dismissal because it only cited news articles, and not evidence. Scarsi added, however, that the news reports Biden’s lawyers cited did not prove that prosecutors decided to charge President Joe Biden’s son because of political pressure.

“Defendant provides no facts indicating that the Government undertook charging decisions in any respect because of public statements by politicians, let alone based on Defendant’s familial and political affiliations,” he wrote.

Scarsi acknowledged that House Republicans had taken credit for the Biden prosecution, as Biden’s lawyers had emphasized.

“But politicians take credit for many things over which they have no power and have made no impact,” he added.

Biden’s team made a similar argument for dismissing the indictment based on congressional testimony provided by two IRS agents who worked on the Biden investigation and then were removed from it. Biden has said the two men violated his privacy rights; both men, meanwhile, have said Biden’s indictment was “complete vindication.” Scarsi said the fact that the agents made that comment does not prove that the indictment resulted from any disclosures about the president’s son.

“[P]ublicly taking credit for a prosecution hardly proves the boaster’s conduct had any effect on the presumably independent prosecutor,” he wrote.

In a statement, Biden’s lead lawyer suggested they may appeal Scarsi’s rulings.

“We strongly disagree with the Court’s decision and will continue to vigorously pursue Mr. Biden’s challenges to the abnormal way the Special Counsel handled this investigation and charged this case,” said defense attorney Abbe Lowell.