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News / Nation & World

Hunter Biden seeks a delay in his federal tax trial set to begin in Los Angeles next month

By STEFANIE DAZIO and ALANNA DURKIN RICHER, Associated Press
Published: May 22, 2024, 9:17am

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hunter Biden’s lawyers will press a judge on Wednesday to delay his trial that’s set to begin next month in Los Angeles on charges that he schemed to avoid paying $1.4 million in taxes.

President Joe Biden’s son is seeking to push the June 20 trial date back until at least September, noting that he is also scheduled to stand trial in Delaware beginning June 3 on federal firearms charges. He has pleaded not guilty to both indictments brought by Justice Department special counsel David Weiss, which he has claimed are politically motivated.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers say they cannot adequately prepare for both trials at the same time, and they have sought delays — and dismissals — in both cases. If Judge Mark C. Scarsi denies his bid to delay the California case, he could be headed to trial in two federal cases on opposite coasts next month as the Democratic president campaigns for reelection against former President Donald Trump.

Scarsi, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, a Republican, will hear arguments on the request, which prosecutors are opposing. The defense is also seeking to block both prosecutions from moving forward by arguing the special counsel’s funding was not appropriately approved by Congress.

In pressing for the delay, Hunter Biden’s lawyers noted the “uniquely challenging and high-profile nature of this case” as well as “the fact Mr. Biden and the same counsel will be starting trial in Delaware just two and a half weeks before this trial is set to begin.”

Prosecutors say the heightened press coverage does not impact the defense’s preparation for trial in any way, describing it as a “straightforward tax case.”

“He is not above the rule of law and should be treated like any other defendant,” the special counsel’s team wrote in a recent court filing.

The indictment alleges that Hunter Biden failed to pay at least $1.4 million in taxes over four years while living an “extravagant lifestyle” during a period in which he has acknowledged struggling with addiction. The back taxes have since been paid.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week rejected a defense bid to dismiss the case. The appeals court didn’t rule on the merits of his claims but said the issues can’t be appealed at this time.

In the gun case, prosecutors allege that Biden lied about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a firearm that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. He has acknowledged an addiction to crack cocaine during that period, but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law.

His lawyers had urged the judge last week to push that trial to September, saying they needed time to line up witnesses and sort through evidence. But U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika in Delaware denied that request, saying she believes “everyone can get done what needs to get done” by June 3.

The long-running federal investigation into the president’s son had looked ready to wrap up with a plea deal last year, but the agreement imploded after a judge raised questions about it. Hunter Biden was subsequently indicted.

Under the deal, he would have gotten two years’ probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax charges. He also would have avoided prosecution on the gun charge if he stayed out of trouble.

His attorneys have argued that prosecutors bowed to political pressure to indict him amid heavy criticism of the plea deal from Trump and other Republicans.

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