Special counsel David Weiss has filed a second indictment against President Biden’s son Hunter, this time on tax charges, as the continued fallout from a collapsed plea deal this summer means the younger Biden could go on trial twice next year while his father runs for reelection.
The president’s son was charged by a grand jury in California with nine counts of failing to file and pay taxes, tax evasion and filing false tax returns; three of the charges are felonies, and another six are misdemeanors.
Prosecutors accuse Hunter Biden of failing to pay at least $1.4 million in federal taxes from 2016 through 2019. According to the 56-page indictment, Hunter Biden earned more than $7 million in gross income between 2016 and 2020 from foreign business deals, including payments for his service on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma and his work for a Chinese energy conglomerate. He also received another $1.2 million in 2020 and spent the money to fund an “extravagant lifestyle,” including drugs, escorts and girlfriends, exotic cars and clothing, the indictment alleges.
The $1.2 million came from a personal friend, according to prosecutors, who routed the money to third parties and then to Hunter Biden, who allegedly spent the funds rent for a “lavish house” in Venice, Calif., and car payments for a Porsche. The indictment charges that he also earned more than $140,000 in payments for his memoir, “Beautiful Things.”
Instead of paying his tax bills, however, prosecutors allege that Hunter Biden failed to file taxes on time for a number of years. When he finally filed his tax returns in 2018, the indictment alleges, they included false business deductions that reduced his tax liability. The charges were first reported by CNN.
Some of the conduct described in the indictment dates to when Hunter Biden had said he was struggling with depression and addicted to drugs. But prosecutors charge that even after he has said he was sober and building a new life in Los Angeles, he failed to fully pay taxes he owed.
In a statement, Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said his client repaid his taxes in full two years ago and that Weiss had not granted Lowell’s request days ago for a “customary meeting” to discuss the tax investigation. A spokesperson for Weiss declined to comment on that allegation.
“Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought,” Lowell said. He promised to address issues with the case in court.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
The tax charges had been expected since the failure of the plea deal, which would have allowed Hunter Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax crimes and admit to illegally possessing a gun — without actually pleading guilty to the felony gun offense.
After that deal collapsed over a disagreement about whether it would immunize Biden from additional criminal charges, Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware overseeing the case, sought and received special counsel status from the Justice Department. That change in his status signaled there would probably be indictments in multiple jurisdictions.
Weiss announced an indictment against Biden in mid-September on charges of illegal gun possession and making false statements on a form he filled out to buy a revolver in 2018.
The dual indictments add an additional layer of complexity and drama to the 2024 presidential race, with the son of the Democratic incumbent facing two potential criminal trials on opposite coasts, and the leading Republican presidential contender, former president Donald Trump, scheduled for three criminal trials so far in 2024, after being indicted by four different grand juries this year.
The investigation of Hunter Biden has been a focal point for Republicans since the 2020 presidential campaign, with GOP politicians including Trump claiming that the younger Biden’s legal troubles are evidence of criminal corruption within the Biden family.
But multiple inquiries on Capitol Hill have failed to publicly surface significant evidence of wrongdoing by the sitting president, and the indictment filed Thursday does not link him to any alleged criminal behavior.
Republican lawmakers have accused the Justice Department of showing preferential treatment to the president’s son, an allegation Attorney General Merrick Garland has strenuously denied.
Lowell and House Republicans exchanged angry statements Wednesday over whether Hunter Biden will testify before Congress next week. A GOP committee chairman threatened to refer contempt charges against him if he does not appear for a closed-door deposition.
Hunter Biden’s team says private testimony would let Republicans selectively leak his quotes to misrepresent his comments, while GOP lawmakers say he should follow the practices of their other witnesses and that he could provide open testimony at a later date.