OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A federal prosecutor was forced to make a stunning admission in court on Wednesday during a hearing in which first son Hunter Biden was expected to enter a plea of guilty to a pair of misdemeanor tax violations as part of a watered-down plea bargain that would have kept him out of prison.
The deal, which U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika declined to accept on Wednesday, consisted of two documents: a plea bargain for the pair of tax charges and a diversion agreement that would have allowed the son of President Joe Biden to evade jail time for a felony gun charge.
The judge scrutinized paragraph 15 of the diversion agreement, which stated that the United States would not pursue any prosecution against Hunter Biden for any crime mentioned in the “attached Statement of Facts,” as outlined in the diversion agreement or plea deal, according to the written agreement obtained by Politico.
During the court proceedings in U.S. district court in Wilmington, Delaware, Justice Department prosecutor Leo Wise confirmed, under questioning by Noreika, that he was “not aware” of any precedent for a plea agreement that includes an agreement not to prosecute future unrelated crimes or diverted charges, as noted in the hearing transcript.
In addition, Noreika immediately became aware that the plea bargain was highly unusual, noting early that there are “some provisions in those agreements that are not standard and are different from what I normally see.”
“So have you ever seen — I think I just asked you this, but have you ever seen a Diversion Agreement where the agreement not to prosecute is so broad that it encompasses crimes in a different case?” Noreika asked according to the transcript.
“No,” Wise replied. “And I would say, Your Honor, I don’t think it is broad in the sense that —”
The judge interrupted at that point: “We’re going to talk about that. You can sit down.”
Also, at another juncture during the hearing, Wise admitted that there is an “ongoing” federal investigation into Hunter Biden, answering “yes” when the judge asked if the government could, at some future point, bring charges related to alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Under the law, Biden may have been required to register as a foreign agent while doing business deals in Ukraine and China.
According to the plea agreement, in 2017, Hunter earned “just under $1 million from a company he formed with the CEO of a Chinese business conglomerate; $666,666 from his domestic business interests; approximately $664,000 from a Chinese infrastructure investment company; $500,000 in director’s fees from a Ukrainian energy company; $70,000 relating to a Romanian business; and $48,000 from the multi-national law firm.”
If Biden wants to stay out of jail after his plea bargain agreement with federal prosecutors went haywire on Wednesday, he will have to meet several court-ordered requirements.
As conditions of his release, U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika ordered Hunter to “actively seek employment,” lay off alcohol and drugs, submit to random drug testing, and not have a gun, Fox News reported.
The unexpected collapse of the proceedings came as a surprise, considering the years-long investigation and the meticulously negotiated resolution that took several weeks to craft. The resolution had involved extensive discussions between Justice Department prosecutors and Hunter Biden’s legal team, Fox News reported.
The intention behind the plea deal was to clear up legal problems for Hunter Biden and avoid a trial. However, Republicans claimed that he received preferential treatment, while former President Donald Trump has faced unfair persecution.
“District Judge Noreika did the right thing by refusing to rubberstamp Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal,” said House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky, according to Fox News. “But let’s be clear: Hunter’s sweetheart plea deal belongs in the trash.”