WILMINGTON, Del. — Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges Wednesday after his original plea deal unraveled when the judge disagreed with the terms.
Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, was expected to plead guilty to two federal misdemeanor counts for failing to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018. However, confusion arose over a separate gun charge.
U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, appointed by former president Donald Trump, expressed doubt about the terms of the deal reached between Biden’s team and U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who was also appointed by Trump and kept on by President Biden.
As a result, Biden pleaded “not guilty” to those charges instead until the two sides can meet and address the issues at hand.
“Without me saying I’ll agree to the plea agreement, how do you plead?” Noreika asked Hunter Biden.
“Not guilty, your honor,” he answered.
The original deal said prosecutors would recommend probation for the tax violations, while a separate felony gun charge would be dropped if Biden agreed to never own a gun again.
Noreika asked the legal team if the gun charge would be diverted until Biden completes certain requirements, saying she did not believe that the judiciary would normally oversee the agreement.
Another issue was when Noreika asked if Biden could be charged with a future crime. The defense said they believe the deal would prohibit Biden from being charged but the prosecution said no. That led Biden’s lawyer, Chris Clark, to say they’ll “rip it up”, referring to the deal.
“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,” Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said in a statement last month. “He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to answer any questions related to Hunter Biden at Wednesday’s press briefing, referring reporters to the Justice Department and Biden’s legal team.
“Hunter Biden is a private citizen, and this was a personal matter for him,” she said. “As we have said, the president, the first lady, they love their son, and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life.”