U.S. President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to tax charges on Wednesday, after a federal judge in Delaware said she needed more time to review a proposed deal with federal prosecutors to avoid a felony gun charge.
The stunning turnabout came after what was expected to be a routine plea hearing turned into a three-hour affair featuring hushed negotiations between lawyers and pointed questions from U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika.
“I cannot accept the plea agreement today,” she said, asking the parties to brief her on why she should accept it.
That means that Hunter Biden’s lawyers and prosecutors may yet persuade Noreika to approve the deal as it was previously negotiated, or to alter it to a form she can accept.
But the news means the saga will continue to drag out even as the elder Biden campaigns for re-election in 2024, in a possible rematch with former President Donald Trump, who faces his own extensive legal woes.
Hunter Biden was accused of failing to pay taxes on more than $1.5 million in income in 2017 and 2018 despite owing more than $100,000, prosecutors allege.
He is charged in a separate case with unlawfully owning a firearm while addicted to and using a controlled substance, a felony.
Republicans have for years accused Hunter Biden of leveraging his father’s political power for personal gain in his dealings in Ukraine and China, though the probe by U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, a Trump appointee, has not turned up any evidence to support those claims.
News of the plea deal in June sparked accusations of favorable treatment for the president’s son from Trump and his Republican allies, who have for years accused the younger Biden of influence-peddling abroad, among other things.
Those allegations spurred the criminal investigation by Weiss, who in a departure from typical practice was allowed to remain in office to continue the probe after Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election.
White House spokesperson Karine Jeane-Pierre said the president supported his son, adding, “Hunter Biden is a private citizen and this was a personal matter for him.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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