Federal District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika put the plea deal between Hunter Biden’s lawyers and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on hold yesterday, raising questions about the extent of immunity Hunter could receive under the proposed agreement. The deal, which would have seen Hunter plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and admit to a gun charge, has faced criticism from Republicans who argue that it offers leniency to the president’s son.
During the court appearance in Delaware, Judge Noreika sought more clarity from both federal prosecutors and Hunter’s lawyers regarding the investigation into Hunter and the level of immunity granted to him. In particular, she inquired whether the deal would shield Hunter from charges related to the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).
“I think having you guys talk more makes sense,” Judge Noreika stated before calling a recess to allow the lawyers to negotiate further.
Disagreements arose between federal prosecutors and Hunter’s legal team over the ongoing nature of the investigation. Federal prosecutor Leo Wise asserted that “There’s no deal” if the understanding was that the investigation had concluded.
After the recess, the plea deal was reportedly back on the table following negotiations between the lawyers. The revised agreement apparently provided Hunter with future immunity for actions related to tax offenses, gun possession, and drug use spanning from 2014 to 2019. However, Judge Noreika expressed concerns about potential constitutional issues, leading her to reject the deal.
Both parties will return to court later to present their arguments for why the judge should accept the deal. Some commentators, including Republican Missouri attorney general candidate Will Scharf, questioned the immunity aspect of the plea agreement, voicing concern over Hunter attempting to evade a decade of potential criminal activity with minimal consequences.
Last month, Hunter’s lawyer, Chris Clark, asserted that the investigation had been resolved following the announcement of the plea deal. Clark explained that Hunter would take responsibility for two instances of misdemeanor failure to file tax payments as part of the agreement. Additionally, a firearm charge was to be subject to a pretrial diversion agreement, separate from the plea deal. Clark emphasized Hunter’s commitment to taking responsibility for mistakes made during a period of personal turmoil and addiction and his dedication to continuing his recovery.
Previous reports had suggested that high-powered Hollywood lawyer Kevin Morris had covered Hunter Biden’s tax liability, totaling over $2 million, and had collaborated with him on his art career.