Although the Hunter Biden plea deal worked out by the Department of Justice blew up in court last week, leaders of three House committees want to comb through the wreckage to determine what the Department of Justice was trying to accomplish through it.
The deal fell apart amid questions from U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, whose approval was needed. As a result, last week’s hearing ended with Hunter Biden entering a plea of not guilty to the charges against him. The two sides are now expected to iron out a new deal.
The New York Times noted that at various times during the hearing, Noreika called the deal “not standard, not what I normally see,” possibly “unconstitutional,” unprecedented and potentially “not worth the paper it is printed on.”
The deal would have given Hunter Biden broad immunity for crimes not covered by the agreement, according to the New York Post.
The rejected agreement to settle a gun charge against Hunter Biden said, “The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.”
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That, on top of whistleblower comments indicating Hunter Biden had been getting preferential treatment, moved Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith of Missouri to write Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding to know what was going on.
“Given recent unusual events relating to the Department’s plea and pretrial diversion agreements with Mr. Biden, we write to better understand the Department’s decision to sign off on such apparently atypical agreements,” the letter said.
The letter focused on two parts of the deal, noting that “paragraph 14 of the pretrial diversion agreement means that unless Judge Noreika makes a finding that the pretrial diversion agreement has been breached, ‘no criminal charges can be pursued [against Mr. Biden] for the gun charge or any other federal charge within the scope of the agreement not to be prosecuted.’”
Paragraph 15 of the agreement “not only covers the gun-related conduct addressed by the pretrial diversion agreement but also the entirely unrelated conduct covered by the plea agreement,” the letter noted.
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“Taken individually, each of the provisions discussed above raises serious concerns about how the Department has handled this matter. But when considered together, the provisions appear to be even more troubling,” the letter said.
“In short, the Department shifted a broad immunity provision, which benefits Mr. Biden, from the plea agreement to the pretrial diversion agreement apparently to prevent the District Court from being able to scrutinize and reject that immunity provision,” the letter continued.
Read the proposed Hunter Biden plea agreement https://t.co/eRO93Ugqpy
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“And then, the Department has benefitted Mr. Biden by giving up its unilateral ability to bring charges against him if it concludes that he has breached the pretrial diversion agreement. Instead, it has placed upon itself the burden of getting the District Court’s permission to bring charges even though the District Court normally has no role in policing a pretrial diversion agreement in that manner. So, the District Court is apparently removed from the equation when it helps Mr. Biden and inserted into the equation when it helps Mr. Biden,” the letter said.
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The letter said it was concerning that “contrary to its representations to the Judiciary Committee, the Department may be claiming that other investigations into Mr. Biden are ongoing to shield the Department from Congressional oversight about this matter.”
The letter noted that Hunter Biden’s attorney believed the deal “would preclude the Department from bringing charges against Mr. Biden under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”
“While the Department did not agree with that position, it is difficult to understand how the parties would not have a meeting of the minds regarding a clause of the agreement as fundamental as the scope of the immunity provision, and it raises questions about what discussions have taken place between the Department and Mr. Biden’s counsel regarding the status of those investigations,” the letter said.
The letter sought to know how many times in the past 10 years the Justice Department has crafted a deal similar to that offered to Hunter Biden and whether the sections of concern were suggested by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Delaware or Hunter Biden’s lawyers.
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