Hunter Biden asks skeptical judge to dismiss tax charges he says are politically motivated

Lawyers for Hunter Biden asked a judge at a hearing in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday to dismiss tax charges filed against him last year, arguing that the case is politically motivated — allegations that did not appear to sway the seemingly skeptical judge.

Biden contends prosecutors caved in to pressure from Republican lawmakers, who launched an impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden, after an earlier plea deal fell through.

“There’s nothing regular about how this case was initially investigated,” Biden attorney Abbe Lowell argued to U.S. District Judge Mark Scarsi.

“This is the least ordinary prosecution this person could imagine,” he said as he began making his client’s case.

The president’s son was not in attendance.

Hunter Biden In House Oversight (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file)

Hunter Biden In House Oversight (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file)

The judge heard arguments on several motions filed in recent weeks from both Biden’s legal team and special counsel David Weiss’ office, represented by lead prosecutor Leo Wise.

Weiss was in attendance, sitting in the first row in the courtroom.

The first motion centered on Biden’s contention that an agreement that was part of the initial plea talks is still in effect and should protect him against the charges that were filed in California.

“We were relying on good faith that Biden was going to plead guilty,” Wise told the judge, adding that the agreement that Biden is trying to cling to “was not finalized.”

Lowell insisted it was and said his client had been abiding by its terms.

The judge seemed skeptical — and critical — of some of Biden’s arguments, especially Lowell’s contention that the case should be dismissed on the grounds Biden was the victim of selective targeting by prosecutors. The motion contends the prosecution of tougher charges was brought after complaints from House Republicans that Biden was getting special treatment.

“There really is no evidence” to support Biden’s motion, the judge said, beyond the timing of the probe and the charges.

Lowell did not point to any other evidence to back up the claim.

“It’s a timeline, but it’s a juicy timeline,” Lowell said.

Derek Hines of the special counsel’s office was incredulous and mocked the idea that “when former President Trump posts ‘Where’s Hunter’ we’re at his beck and call” and “ready to type up an indictment.”

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” Hines said.

Scarsi said he expected to rule on the motions by April 17.

Also at the courthouse for the hearing Wednesday was David Chesnoff, the attorney for ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov. Smirnov has been charged with providing false information to the FBI about Hunter Biden and his father, something Lowell is likely to bring up.

“The same prosecutor’s office is charging my client and the arguments that are being made for dismissal may impact his case. I want to hear it for my client’s benefit,” Chesnoff told NBC News.

Weiss brought nine tax-related charges — three felony and six misdemeanor charges — against Hunter Biden in a California federal court last year. Weiss alleged that the president’s son failed to pay at least $1.4 million in taxes as part of a multiyear scheme to evade federal taxes, instead opting to “spend millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle,” including, according to the indictment, “drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature.”

The president’s son pleaded not guilty to the charges in January. His lawyers filed several motions last month asking the judge to dismiss the charges, arguing that prosecutors had “bowed to political pressure,” among other things.

“The special counsel has gone to extreme lengths to bring charges against Mr. Biden that would not have been filed against anyone else,” Lowell said in a statement when the motions were filed last month. “Prosecutors reneged on binding agreements, bowed to political pressure to bring unprecedented charges, overreached in their authority, ignored the rules and allowed their agents to run amok, and repeatedly misstated evidence to the court to defend their conduct.”

Federal prosecutors pushed back against Hunter Biden’s claims, arguing that he came up with “a conspiracy theory” to dodge tax charges after the earlier plea deal unraveled.

“The defendant concocts a conspiracy theory that the prosecution has ‘upped the ante’ to appease politicians who have absolutely nothing to do with the prosecution and are not even members of the current Executive Branch,” prosecutors wrote in a filing this month.

In addition to the tax charges, Hunter Biden was indicted on federal gun charges in Delaware last year, accused of possessing a gun while using narcotics. The trial for the gun charges is scheduled for June.

Hunter Biden has become a major figure in House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into the president. He gave a closed-door deposition with the GOP-led House Oversight and Judiciary committees last month and railed against the investigation as a “charade” in his prepared remarks.

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