Hunter Biden asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss gun charges filed against him on the grounds that prosecutors had reneged on promises they made while negotiating a plea deal over weapons and tax charges that later collapsed.
Defense lawyer Abbe Lowell said the president's son had made a deal with prosecutors and had kept up his end. Hunter Biden acknowledged elements of the tax and gun crimes he was charged with, but Lowell said he wouldn't have surrendered his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination − admitting to possibly criminal acts − without getting the deal. A judge torpedoed the plea agreement in July.
Lowell argued on Monday the prosecution was trying to renege on the deal but that Biden has fulfilled his side of the agreement by not possessing a firearm, not using illicit drugs and agreeing to drug testing and treatment. And he went further, arguing that U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika in Delaware lacked the power to cancel the weapons portion of the plea deal between Biden and federal prosecutors.
The defense attorney's motion was the latest move in a long-running series of federal and Congressional investigations of the president's son over his taxes, gun ownership, and overseas business entanglements. Hunter Biden is a frequent target of former President Donald Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted
"The prosecution's desire to take political cover from the criticism leveled at it does not provide a legal basis for them to renege on the Diversion Agreement it explained to the Court it had made," Lowell wrote in his filing. "The Court should require the prosecution to honor its agreement and dismiss the Indictment."
Justice Department special counsel David Weiss has until Jan. 16 to reply.
Noreika hasn’t set a trial date yet. Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on all three charges, although first-time offenders are typically given shorter terms.
What other cases does Hunter Biden face?
The gun charges represent just one of many legal battles Hunter Biden faces. He was indicted Thursday on federal tax charges in California for allegedly failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes from 2016 to 2019. The House Oversight and Accountability Committee subpoenaed him for testimony Wednesday and threatened to hold him in contempt if he doesn't appear for a closed-door deposition. And he remains under federal investigation as a potential foreign agent.
Hunter Biden has also sued Rudy Giuliani over the release of salacious personal material from his laptop, the Internal Revenue Service for allegedly revealing confidential information about his taxes and former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler for allegedly accessing and tampering with data from the laptop.
The high-profile charges and litigation represent a potential drag on his father, President Joe Biden, as he campaigns for reelection. A Republican impeachment inquiry has tried to link the president with his son's business dealings. But polls found the gun case hasn't hurt the president much yet.
What are the accusations behind the gun charges?
The indictment charges Hunter Biden with knowingly deceiving a firearms dealer by buying a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver on Oct. 12, 2018. He is charged with falsely filling out a federal form denying he was addicted to any narcotics. And he is charged with knowingly possessing the revolver despite the restrictions against people addicted to drugs owning firearms.
The younger Biden has written about his struggle with addiction in a 2021 memoir and in newspaper articles.
The plea agreement would have allowed Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanors for failing to pay his taxes in 2017 and 2018, and to enter a pretrial program for a gun charge that could have been dismissed if he complied. The deal might have allowed him to avoid prison.
Noreika refused to accept the deal because of disputes between prosecutors and defense lawyers over whether it protected Biden from potential future charges. Congressional Republicans blasted the plea agreement as too lenient.
But Lowell argued Monday that Noreika's approval wasn't needed to complete the plea agreement concerning the gun charge because Hunter Biden and the prosecutors were the only ones participating in the deal.
Abbe Lowell: Special counsel David Weiss was improperly appointed
"Negotiating this resolution with the prosecution was made difficult because the prosecution couldnot make up its mind about what it wanted and repeatedly moved the goal posts whenever aresolution was in reach," Lowell wrote in a footnote.
Lowell also asked Noreika to dismiss the gun charges by arguing they are unconstitutional. He wrote that, under recent court decisions, Biden could no longer be asked about illicit drug use as a condition for buying a gun.
In addition, Lowell asked Noeika to dismiss the charges by arguing that Weiss’ appointment as special counsel was unconstitutional. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Weiss as special counsel while he remained the U.S. attorney for Delaware, where he first began investigating Biden.
But the Justice Department’s own regulations for special counsels say that a prosecutor appointed to that role “shall be selected from outside the United States Government,” Lowell argued. Congress hasn’t approved funding for Weiss as special counsel, which Lowell argued violated the Constitution’s appropriations clause.
“Accordingly, the Indictment should be dismissed as without proper authority to have been sought and brought,” Lowell wrote.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden asks federal judge to dismiss gun charges