Hunter Biden Plea Bargain
This page will be for documents relevant to the 2023 Hunter Biden criminal case, and to the plea bargain in particular.
Hunter Biden failed to file tax returns in many tax years, also failed to pay his taxes (a separate crime, since sometimes people file without including a check), and also lied on his tax return (e.g., reporting payments for a sex club, for prostitutes' air travel, and for health insurnace for the mother of his illegitimate child as business expenses). After he was under investigation, a lawyer paid something like $2 million of his unpaid taxes for him as a gift.
The IRS investigated, with the Justice Dept. following along. The Justice Dept. cut out the IRS from many key discussions, and warned the investigation's targets in advance so they couldn't be surprised by visits from agents asking questions or arriving with a search warrant for a building suspected of housing documents. The Justice Dept allowed the statute of limitations to lapse on prosecutions for 2014 and 2015. In 2023, IRS agent Shapley, feeling disgusted and betrayed, testified about all this in a hearing of the House of Representatives. The Justice Dept. then moved quickly to indict Hunter Biden for his tax offenses, charging him with two misdemeanors and recommending probation, no jail time, in exchange for a guilty plea. The prosecutor also accused him of gun crimes, but agreed to pre-trial diversion-- that is, not to prosecute-- if Hunter agreed not to possess a gun in the future. The Diversion Agreement and Plea Bargain were presented to a judge in July 2023, but blew up there because Hunter Biden's lawyer said the fine print of the Diversion Agreement would prevent future prosecution of him for the unrelated crime of being an unregistered foreign agent but the Justice Dept. said it would not.
The Heritage Foundation and Rep. Jason Smith filed papers as amici curiae (friends of the court) to bring under judicial notice the Shapley hearing transcript and other facts kept hidden by the Justice Dept. in the documents filed by the Prosecutor.
Note the section below titled "Flacks". It contains news stories in defense of Hunter Biden. Do not believe those stories. The New York Times, for example, refers to non-filing and failure to pay as "failure to meet filing deadlines" (because people got him to file and paid his taxes with their own money later) and to his deduction of sex-related payments as "improperly claimed $30,000 in deductions for business expenses." I include these stories as indicating the spin the White House is trying to put on the story, and the dishonesty of Democratic news reports. If you doubt this, read the primary sources-- in particular, the Shapley transcript and the Plea Agreement.
I later wrote up my version of the story in three parts on Substack: Part I of "Hunter Was Too Clever by Half": The Plea Bargain and Part II of Hunter Was Too Clever by Half: Judge Noreika and Part III of Hunter Was Too Clever by Half: After the Special Counsel Appointment. I hope to write a Part IV in light of the conflict between Justice and Hunter after the Special Counsel appointment over whether the Diversion Agreement is valid. The NYT and Politico August 19 stories below are part of that.
- amicus brief from Rep. Jason Smith.
- Hertiage amicus brief and its Exhibits 1-12 (776 pages!) with Ex 5 of the earlier hearing at p. 45 and with Ex. 7 transcript of the July 19 Shapley-Ziegler hearing starting at p. 429, and Exhibits 13+
- Letter objecting to the Smith amicus from Hunter's lawyer.
- Gun crime case docket from Courtlistener.
- Tax crime case docket from Courtlistener.
- Defendant tax crime Information Sheet saying the County of the offense is New Castle.
- July 26 hearing transcript (not available via PACER]
- August 15 Reply of the US on the question of the validity of the Diversion Agreement. Extremely interesting. Did a new Justice Dept. lawyer take over the case, even though the signatures are the same as last week?
Statutes and Rules
- The Justice Dept. Criminal Tax Manual for policy on charging criminal tax evasion.
- The Tax Code, via Cornell. Hunter is charged with 26 (7203), though the fine does not match up with what the Plea Bargain says.
- Special Counsel section of the Code of Federal Regulations.
- Justice Dept. regulations for plea bargains," .e.g. "in accordance with JM 9-27.630, United States Attorneys may not make agreements which prejudice civil or tax liability without the express agreement of all affected Divisions and/or agencies. For additional discussion regarding plea agreements, see the Principles of Federal Prosecution, JM 9-27.400 et seq."
- Sentencing policies for tax cases, an excerpt in a tweet by Tigani.
- Flynn case order by Judge Sullivan appointing a court-chosen amicus because he didn't trust the Justice Dept. (I wrote an amicus for In Re Flynn myself.)
- Docket for Roger Stone's tax case (2021) and the Complaint and the Consent Judgement that settled the case. Stone had ceased repayment of late taxes, a civil suit. See also the Politico article. Stone lost, basically.
- "Can Judges Reject Plea Deals?" Findlaw blog. Three exmaples of federal judges rejecting plea bargains, with links.
- "Broken Government Promises: A Contract-Based Approach to Enforcing Plea Bargains," Michael D. Cicchini, 38 N.M. L. Rev. 159 (2008). Example of broken agreements and discussion of the caselaw of remedies.
- Daniels (2023), the 5th Circuit opinion that says Hunter's offense of owning a gun while using an illegal drug is unconstitutional (Jerry Smith, J.) .
- The transcript of the IRS agent talking to the House of Representatives committee about Hunter Biden's tax investigation for three hours.
- The July 17 House Hearing with an FBI agent, released August 15.
Articles on Technical Legal Points
- "no-appointing-a-special-counsel-is-not-a-license-for-doj-to-obstruct-congress/" by Tristan Leavitt and Jason Foster, on congressional investigations over history of the Justice Department, including the Teapot Dome and the Truman tax scandals.
- "6 Takeaways from the Hunter Biden Speical COunsel Appointment You Won't Hear from Big Media," Margot Cleveland, The Federalist(August 15, 2023).
- Biden laptop report by Marcopolo.com. This is a long and detailed report on the Biden business operations and sex scandals.
- "Are The DOJ And Hunter Biden Attempting To Commit Fraud In Federal Court?" MARGOT CLEVELAND, The Federalist (JULY 31, 2023). "There will be no justice if the court allows the government and Hunter Biden to pretend the $1 million payment from Patrick Ho was for legal representation."
- @shipwreckedcrew on the normal procedural history of a guilty plea in a federal court"
New Stories, Tweets, etc.
- A good August 23 story by Margot Cleveland summarizing what happened up to then.
- An August 18 tweet laying out the chronology of Hunter Biden news being followed with a Trump indictment the next day, four times. See also the Fox News presentation of the dates.
- July 28 Sentencing law and policy blog entry on the Diversion Agreement. The blog entry says little; the comments say more but were hijacked by a theoretical discussion of waivers of appeals.
- June Sentencing Law and Policy blog entry which is very good in the comments on venue and the gun charges.
- "Hunter Biden deducted payments to prostitute, sex club from his taxes," Victor Nava, The New York Post (June 22, 2023). A newspaper account of the highlights of the Shapley testimony, including a quote from the owner about how Hunter was kicked out of the sex club for immature behavior.
- "Undelivered Goods," the 2015 Harper's article by Andrew Cockburn on corruption in the Ukraine and how U.S. aid was stolen. A good summary with lots of technical detail on bank dealings.
White House Flacks
- The Emptywheel Twitter account.
- Washington Post's article on Weiss and his Delaware career.
- Politico's August 19 article laying out details of what Hunter's lawyers did, spun to make him look good.
- New York Times coverage: A Timeline of Hunter Biden (Aug. 11) and The Hunter Biden Case: An example of America’s dueling realities (Aug. 11) and Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Steps Down From Case (Aug. 15) and Inside the Collapse of Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal (Aug. 19).
- July 27 Axios article highly sympathetic to Hunter, suggesting that lawyer Lowell saw things were going badly for lawyer Clark and wants to stop things from being fouled up.
- "I Investigated Tax Crimes. Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal Was Very Fair," MARTIN J. SHEIL, Slate (July 26, 2023). Amazing lies. "As someone with more than 30 years of experience for the IRS investigating the exact sorts of tax crimes of which Hunter Biden is accused, I can tell you very firmly: Biden did not get a sweetheart deal. In fact, not only would you not be going to prison if you did what Hunter Biden did, you likely wouldn’t even be charged. Thefact of the matter is no one goes to jail anymore for not paying their taxes on time, as much as the WSJ would like one to think they do."
- "Hunter Biden Reaches Deal to Plead Guilty to Misdemeanor Tax Charges: Under an agreement with the Justice Department, the president’s son agreed to probation for filing his taxes late, and he can avoid a charge that he lied about his drug use when he bought a gun," By Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Entous (June 20, 2023). "The crimes to which Mr. Biden is pleading guilty, said Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and a sentencing expert, are ones that the average person is rarely prosecuted for because they are usually only brought along with more serious offenses." Just plain false. This is amazing. "Prosecutors had been considering whether to indict him in connection with his failure to meet filing deadlines for his 2017 and 2018 taxes, and whether he had improperly claimed $30,000 in deductions for business expenses."