WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors plan to obtain a grand jury indictment of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter before the end of the month, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
The lawsuit came in a gun possession case in which Hunter Biden is accused of possessing a firearm while on drugs, though prosecutors haven’t specified exactly what charges they will seek. He is also under investigation by federal prosecutors for his business dealings.
Leo Wise, the veteran attorney general assigned to Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ team in June, said in a court filing Wednesday that the Justice Department will seek to reinstate the gun indictment before Sept. 29, citing a timeline set by the speedy trial law.
“The government intends to seek to return the indictment in this case before that date,” Weiss said in a letter to the court on Wednesday. “The government therefore does not believe that any court action is necessary at this time.”
However, attorneys for Hunter Biden said that prosecutors are barred from pressing additional charges under an agreement the two sides previously reached in the gun case. It contains a provision for immunity from federal prosecution for certain other potential crimes. Defense attorney Abe Lowell said Hunter Biden adhered to the terms of the deal, including regular visits by the probation office.
Under the original agreement, Biden agreed to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and to settle the weapons investigation without charging him.
Despite the collapse of the agreement, Lowell said his client has been abiding by the terms of the original deal “for the past few weeks.”
Lowell indicated that he continues to seek a “fair” deal with Weiss that is not subject to “external political pressure.”
He added, “We expect a fair resolution of the five-year long investigation of Mr. Biden that was based on evidence and the law, not external political pressure, and we will do what is necessary on Mr. Biden’s behalf to achieve that.” He said in a statement.
Prosecutors said the gun agreement is dead with the rest of the plea agreement that called on Hunter Biden to plead guilty to tax misdemeanor crimes. She broke down after US District Judge Marilyn Norica raised questions about it during her court appearance in July.
The Justice Department had no immediate comment.
Weiss’ letter comes after Norica in Delaware directed the government to inform her of the status of her case.
The timing of Weiss’s indictment on the gun charge isn’t particularly surprising, given that legal experts believe the statute of limitations on that alleged offense was set to expire in mid-October. But the filing is another sign that, after the plea bargain collapses, prosecutors plan to indict the president’s son with crimes, with just over a year until the 2024 election — meaning Hunter Biden could end up on trial in sweltering heat. From the campaign.
Prosecutors have previously indicated that the appropriate place to file any tax charges against the younger Biden would not be in Delaware, but in D.C. and California. It was not clear from Wednesday’s filing whether one or more indictments in those jurisdictions might arrive at the same time as the gun charge.
News of a possible new indictment comes as House Republicans prepare for a possible impeachment inquiry into President Biden over unsubstantiated allegations that he played a role in his son’s foreign business affairs during his tenure as vice president.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., recently told Fox News: “If you look at all the information that we’ve been able to gather so far, naturally you have to go to the impeachment inquiry.”
The younger Biden has been a target of congressional investigations since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in January, as lawmakers obtained thousands of pages of financial records from various Biden family members through subpoenas to the Treasury Department and various financial institutions. Three powerful House committees are now pursuing several lines of inquiry involving the president and his son.
And while Republicans have sought to tie Hunter Biden’s finances directly to his father, they have failed to provide evidence that the president was directly involved in his son’s business, even though he occasionally dined with Hunter Biden clients or greeted them over phone calls.
In recent months, Republicans have also shifted their focus to delving into the Justice Department’s investigation into Hunter Biden after whistleblower testimony alleged he received special treatment throughout the years-long case.
Hunter Biden was charged in June with two counts of failing to pay more than $100,000 in taxes from income of more than $1.5 million in 2017 and 2018. He had been expected to plead guilty in July, after reaching an agreement with prosecutors, who were planning to recommend two years of probation. The case collapsed during the hearing after Norica, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, raised multiple concerns about the details of the deal and her role in the proceedings.
If prosecutors file a new gun possession charge, they may face court challenges. A federal appeals court in Louisiana overturned the ban on gun possession by drug users last month, citing a 2022 US Supreme Court ruling on guns.
The potential indictment developments come after US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Weiss as special counsel, giving him broad authority to investigate and report his findings and intensify the investigation of the president’s son ahead of the 2024 election.
Garland has long resisted calls by conservatives in Congress to appoint a special counsel on the Biden case, saying Weiss is best suited to handle it. But after the plea bargain fell through, Weiss asked to be appointed special counsel, and Garland agreed. As special counsel, Weiss could bring criminal charges in any jurisdiction in the United States—something he would have needed special permission to do as a US attorney.
The Hunter Biden investigation saga took another strange turn this spring. Two IRS agents involved in the case became whistleblowers and told a congressional committee that Weiss and his office thwarted and slowed down the investigation over several months, frustrating the clients, who said they wanted to pursue tougher charges in the case.
When a plea deal negotiated with Hunter Biden collapsed in court in July, neither party could agree to what degree a guilty plea to tax charges would protect him from any future charges related to his business dealings in the 2014-2019 time frame.
The two sides remained apart. In their notice filed with the court on Wednesday, Lowell and the rest of the defense team suggested that, as far as they were concerned, the terms of the transfer agreement to settle the gun charge should still apply. As part of that agreement, Biden was to stay out of trouble and undergo drug testing over a two-year period.
“Mr. Biden has been following and will continue to follow the terms of that agreement that the US Attorney’s Office has approved and signed,” Lowell wrote.
The White House counsel’s office referred questions to Hunter Biden’s personal attorneys.
The gun charge stems from Hunter Biden answering “no” to a federal form he filled out as part of a gun purchase when asked if he was an “illegal user” of drugs. At the time, Biden, who was a cocaine addict, was struggling to stay sober.
Such federal prosecutions are relatively rare, and they are rarely pursued as standalone charges. Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responsible for reviewing Biden’s file were skeptical of bringing charges against him, especially considering that he had sought treatment and had no prior criminal history, according to another person familiar with the situation. His brother Bo’s widow later found the gun and threw it in the trash.
Another factor that may complicate the government’s case: a Supreme Court ruling last year that gave people a broad right to carry guns outside the home. Biden’s lawyers have argued that recent lawsuits challenging federal regulations, including drug use restrictions, could make Hunter Biden’s trial controversial.
Information for this article was contributed by Lindsey Whitehurst and Farnoosh Amiri of the Associated Press, Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post, Patricia Hurtado of Bloomberg News (TNS), and Glenn Thrash of The New York Times.