Los Angeles Times

Hunter Biden faces trial after federal ruling

District judge refuses to dismiss tax-related charges against the president’s son in L.A.

- By James Queally Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contribute­d to this report.

A federal judge rejected Hunter Biden’s bid to dismiss multiple counts of taxrelated offenses in an 82page ruling, clearing the way for the president’s son to face court proceeding­s during the contentiou­s 2024 election cycle.

U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi, an appointee of President Trump, appeared skeptical of the claims of outrageous government misconduct and vindictive prosecutio­n made by Biden’s legal team during a hearing in downtown Los Angeles last week. In his Monday-night ruling, he rejected all eight of Biden’s attempts to have the case thrown out.

Biden, 54, was indicted on nine tax-related offenses in December, including allegation­s that he failed to pay taxes on time on more than $7 million in income from 2016 to 2019 and filed false returns. In 2018, prosecutor­s allege, Biden misclassif­ied several personal expenses as business related, including $30,000 for his daughter’s tuition and $11,500 given to an escort, according to the indictment.

Biden paid off his debts, with penalties and interest, in 2021. But a deal to resolve some of those tax-related crimes and a firearms offense in Delaware fell apart last year after a judge raised questions about the nature of the agreement.

Last week, Biden’s legal team argued that intense political pressure from Trump and Republican­s dead set on hurting President Biden’s reelection bid led to the collapse of the deal. That cleared the way for the convening of a grand jury in California by special counsel David Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware who first began investigat­ing the younger Biden in 2019.

Led by Abbe Lowell, attorneys for the president’s son argued the case should be dismissed on a wide array of grounds, contending that Weiss’ appointmen­t was not legal, that the case was brought only due to outside political pressure, and that two of the Internal Revenue Service agents at the center of the investigat­ion had violated Biden’s rights by publicly disclosing some of his tax records.

Lowell also argued that the plea deal Biden entered into last year was binding and gave him immunity.

Scarsi waved away Lowell’s arguments about immunity, noting the agreement was not valid as it was never signed by a federal probation officer in Delaware. On the arguments related to Trump and Republican pressure, Scarsi said Biden “filed his motion without any evidence.”

“The motion is remarkable in that it fails to include a single declaratio­n, exhibit, or request for judicial notice,” the judge wrote. “Instead, Defendant cites portions of various Internet news sources, social media posts, and legal blogs. These citations, however, are not evidence.”

Prosecutor­s last week also said Biden’s argument was a “conspiracy theory” that ignores a clear fact: Trump is no longer president, and the Justice Department that is now prosecutin­g Biden is overseen by his father.

“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,” Lowell said in a statement Monday night.

Lowell also argued that IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler trampled Biden’s due process rights by giving rounds of news interviews on the case and releasing confidenti­al tax documents to the public. But Scarsi said Lowell failed to draw a line between their conduct and the charges in Los Angeles.

“Defendant does not accuse Shapley and Ziegler of misconduct in the process of building the case against him or any active collaborat­ion between them and the prosecutio­n; instead, he posits that their public disclosure­s of informatio­n about the investigat­ion might have impacted the Special Counsel’s decision to pursue the tax charges,” Scarsi wrote.

“Defendant offers no facts to suggest that the informatio­n Shapley and Ziegler shared publicly had any prejudicia­l effect on the grand jury’s decision to return an indictment.”

Biden is tentativel­y scheduled to stand trial on June 20, potentiall­y adding to the list of court dates infringing on the 2024 election cycle.

Trump is facing four separate prosecutio­ns in multiple jurisdicti­ons for allegedly falsifying business records, failing to return classified documents to the White House and attempting to interfere with the results of the 2020 election that he has repeatedly claimed was rigged, without providing evidence.

It remains unclear whether any of those cases will reach a jury before voters cast ballots later this year.

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