Federal prosecutors charged Hunter Biden with a felony gun crime on Tuesday, and he will plead guilty to misdemeanor tax crimes as part of a deal that will likely allow the troubled first son to avoid jail time.
Biden will enter a diversionary program as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, according to court documents. Biden’s plea deal on the tax charge brings an end to a five-year investigation that has probed Biden’s business dealings in China, Ukraine, and elsewhere. The U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware opened an investigation into Biden in 2018. The investigation had stalled, leading to allegations from IRS whistleblowers that President Joe Biden's Justice Department had stymied the probe for political reasons.
Chris Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, said in a statement that he believes the federal investigation against his client is now "resolved."
The U.S. attorney's office in Delaware said in a statement announcing the charges that "the investigation is ongoing."
"Hunter will take responsibility for two instances of misdemeanor failure to file tax payments when due pursuant to a plea agreement," Clark said, according to CNBC.
"A firearm charge, which will be subject to a pretrial diversion agreement and will not be the subject of the plea agreement, will also be filed by the Government," he said. "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. He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward."
Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden defended their son in a statement.
"The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life," said a statement from the White House. "We will have no further comment."
The relatively light charges are certain to frustrate Republicans investigating the Biden family’s foreign business dealings. Republicans are seeking information from the FBI about a Ukrainian energy executive’s claim to have paid a $10 million bribe to the Bidens when Joe Biden served as vice president.
Hunter Biden received millions of dollars from the Ukrainian company, Burisma Holdings, and the Chinese energy conglomerate CEFC China Energy in the years in which he failed to pay his taxes.
Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky hired Hunter Biden in 2014 to serve on his company’s board of directors, a gig that paid more than $80,000 a month. CEFC China Energy paid Biden at least $6 million in 2017 and 2018 for consulting and legal services. The owner of the firm, Ye Jianming, gave Biden a diamond worth $80,000 during one of their meetings in 2017.
Republicans have questioned Biden’s work for CEFC, which has alleged ties to Chinese military intelligence. The company paid Biden $1 million in 2017 to represent an executive charged with paying bribes to African officials for oil rights. Biden referred to the executive, Patrick Ho, as the "fucking spy chief of China" in an audio recording in 2018. Biden wrote in private correspondence that he wanted to avoid having to register his work for CEFC under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He also expressed concern about violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Some of Biden’s partners on the CEFC initiative have claimed that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s dealings. Former Hunter Biden associate Tony Bobulinski has said he met with the Biden family in Los Angeles in May 2017 to discuss CEFC, contradicting the elder Biden’s claims to have no involvement in his son’s business.
The president has also defended his son amid the ongoing federal probe, saying last month that "my son has done nothing wrong."
Hunter Biden and his associates lobbied government agencies on behalf of several clients, though never registered their activities under federal lobbying laws.
Biden and his former law firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, arranged meetings in 2014 with State Department officials on behalf of Burisma Holdings, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Biden met multiple times in 2016 with the U.S. ambassador to Romania as part of his work for a Romanian businessman, Gabriel Popoviciu. Popoviciu paid Biden at least $1 million for help with a bribery case he faced in Europe.
Biden and his partners lobbied the State Department in 2015 to advance the interests of their Chinese private equity firm, BHR Partners. One of the goals of the lobbying push was to get the Obama administration to publicly recognize the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, a Chinese Communist Party influence group, the Free Beacon reported.