West News Wire: Hunter Biden is the subject of a special investigation by David C. Weiss, who announced on Wednesday that he intended to indict the president’s son on a firearms charge by the end of the month. This action was motivated by the contentious breakdown of a plea agreement in July. 

Mr. Weiss detailed preparations to pursue charges in connection with Mr. Biden’s purchase of a gun in 2018, when prosecutors said he lied on a federal form by asserting that he was not using narcotics at the time, in a three-page document submitted to federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. As part of the plea agreement, Mr. Biden had previously agreed to take part in a two-year diversion programme for nonviolent gun offenders. However, this summer, the plea agreement spectacularly fell apart. 

Mr. Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, signaled in a statement that he would challenge any effort to proceed with a trial, arguing that the original agreement reached over the summer “remains valid and prevents any additional charges from being filed.” 

The government’s filing, while expected, adds an additional and volatile element to an already packed calendar of criminal cases coinciding and colliding with the 2024 presidential race. It piles on a possible federal trial of President Biden’s son to former President Donald J. Trump’s two federal and two state criminal cases. 

A federal judge requested that Mr. Weiss submit a status report, which he did. The five-year investigation into Mr. Biden’s business dealings and subsequent failure to pay taxes, led by Mr. Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware who oversaw the investigation and was appointed last month as a special counsel, receives no mention of the status of likely separate charges. Prosecutors informed the court last month that they planned to bring the tax charges either in California or Washington, D.C. 

In a court filing on Wednesday, Leo Wise, a seasoned prosecutor assigned to Mr. Weiss’s team in June, stated that the Justice Department will seek the return of an indictment on the gun charge by September 29. He cited a deadline established by Mr. Weiss. 

Mr. Biden appeared to be just hours away from resolving his legal troubles this summer through a deal that would have cleared up both the tax and gun investigations. But under questioning by a judge in federal court in Wilmington, prosecutors and defense lawyers were forced to acknowledge that they had very different interpretations of the terms of the agreement, leading to its collapse. 

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After subsequent negotiations to revive an agreement on the tax and gun charges foundered, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland elevated Mr. Weiss to the status of special counsel, giving him more flexibility in pursuing the tax charges and the freedom to continue investigating other elements of the case. 

Under the original deal, Mr. Biden had agreed to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and to settle the gun investigation without being charged. 

Despite the agreement’s failure, Mr. Lowell said that his client had been adhering to its conditions “for the last several weeks” and had been visiting his court-appointed probation officer on a regular basis. 

Mr. Lowell claimed that he was still working towards a “fair” agreement with Mr. Weiss and was not being influenced by “outside political pressure.” 

Following Jack Smith, who is in charge of the investigations against Mr. Trump, and Robert K. Hur, who is looking into whether President Biden retained private records from his time as vice president, Mr. Weiss is the third special counsel to be appointed since Mr. Garland assumed office in March 2021. 

The gun charge stems from Hunter Biden’s response of “no” on a federal form he filled out as part of the purchase of a handgun when asked whether he was an “unlawful user” of drugs. At the time, Mr. Biden, who had been addicted to crack cocaine, was struggling to remain sober. 

Such federal prosecutions are relatively rare, and seldom pursued as stand-alone charges. Officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responsible for reviewing Mr. 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 with knowledge of the situation. (The widow of his brother, Beau, later found the gun and threw it in a dumpster.) 

Another factor that could complicate the government’s case: Last year’s Supreme Court ruling that gave people a broad right to carry guns outside the home. Mr. Biden’s lawyers have argued that recent lawsuits challenging federal regulations, including the drug use restriction, could render a prosecution of Mr. Biden moot. 


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