Hunter Biden expected to plead guilty to tax-related misdemeanor crimes as part of a plea agreement

The president's son was charged with two misdemeanor tax offenses and a felony firearm crime by a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware.


The Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Delaware has reached a plea agreement with Hunter Biden, who is expected to plead guilty to two federal misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his taxes. Biden also faces a separate felony gun possession charge that is likely to be dismissed if he meets certain conditions, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Two sources familiar with the agreement said it includes a provision in which the U.S. attorney has agreed to recommend probation for Biden for his tax violations. Legal experts also said the tax and gun charges will most likely not result in any jail time for President Joe Biden’s son.

It’s the first time the Justice Department — part of the executive branch, headed by the president — has brought charges against a child of a sitting president.

The decision by U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump in 2018, indicates an end to the sweeping, five-year investigation by federal prosecutors, FBI agents and IRS officials into Hunter Biden’s conduct. The Biden administration has kept Weiss in place to avoid having a U.S. attorney appointed by the president oversee his son’s criminal case.

Weiss's office said in a statement: "Hunter Biden received taxable income in excess of $1,500,000 annually in calendar years 2017 and 2018. Despite owing in excess of $100,000 in federal income taxes each year, he did not pay the income tax due for either year." 

Regarding the gun charge, the statement said that "from on or about October 12, 2018 through October 23, 2018, Hunter Biden possessed a firearm despite knowing he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance."

Weiss's office also said its investigation continues.

Chris Clark, Hunter Biden’s attorney, said in a statement: “With the announcement of two agreements between my client, Hunter Biden, and the Unites States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, it is my understanding that the five-year investigation into Hunter is resolved.

"Hunter will take responsibility for two instances of misdemeanor failure to file tax payments when due pursuant to a plea agreement. A firearm charge, which will be subject to a pretrial diversion agreement and will not be the subject of the plea agreement, will also be filed by the Government. I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life. He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”

A White House spokesperson said: “The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment.”

Peppered with questions shouted by reporters about the charges at an event in California, the president said, "I'm very proud of my son."

Trump, who faces criminal charges for his alleged mishandling of classified documents, criticized the agreement in a post on his website, Truth Social.

“The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN,” Trump wrote.

The resolution suggests that prosecutors did not find cause to file charges related to Hunter Biden’s dealings with foreign entities or other wrongdoing. Trump and several Republican-led congressional inquiries have long alleged that Biden engaged in years of criminal conduct with people tied to the Chinese government and with companies in Ukraine and elsewhere.

In 2021, Biden paid all of the outstanding taxes he owed for 2017 and 2018, the years named in the charges. Biden wasn’t charged with failure to file returns for those years. He filed returns but agreed to plead guilty to not having paid enough in both years, which was over $100,000.

The felony gun possession charge will be resolved in what is known as pretrial diversion agreement, in which charges are dropped if the defendant meets certain conditions, such as not committing a crime in a given time period. The court documents didn’t disclose the specific conditions in Biden’s gun case.

In a statement, the Justice Department said Biden "faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison on each of the tax charges and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the firearm charge," but it noted that "sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties," adding, "A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors."

When there are agreements with prosecutors like this one, judges typically abide by the terms of the deal, which in this case would be a sentence of probation, but not always.

A judge will schedule an arraignment within the next several weeks. Hunter Biden is expected to surrender to Delaware authorities and will be processed by U.S. marshals there.

In April, NBC News reported that federal prosecutors were considering four charges against Biden. The charges filed Tuesday don’t include a previously discussed felony count of tax evasion related to a business expense for one year of taxes in 2018.

The criminal probe was overseen by Weiss, whose deliberations, which have dragged on for months, provoked frustration and bewilderment from other law enforcement officials, some of them inside the FBI and the IRS, as both agencies finished their respective investigations last year, according to three senior law enforcement officials. An additional senior U.S. official said the bulk of the IRS investigation was completed in 2020.

Biden’s drug purchasing initially came to the attention of local police in Delaware in 2018, and the FBI was brought in to assist shortly afterward, a senior law enforcement official said.

The federal investigation began in 2018 under the Trump administration as a broad inquiry of Biden’s international business relationships, with an emphasis on potential national security implications. Over time, it narrowed into an examination of his personal taxes and purchase of a pistol. A grand jury was convened in Delaware and continued to hear testimony from witnesses throughout 2022, according to two sources familiar with the matter. 

Biden has acknowledged that business partners sought him out because of his last name and that he made millions from deals related to foreign countries, but he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. In his memoir, Biden said he used the money for his drug addiction and to maintain his lifestyle. He has acknowledged his extensive use of cocaine during that period.

At times, tensions among investigating U.S. attorney's offices and agencies ran high, and there were disagreements about potential courses of action, two former senior law enforcement officials said.

In early 2020, the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh joined the investigation at the request of then-Attorney General William Barr, who was tasked with assessing information provided by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani about alleged corruption in Ukraine, which included allegations about Hunter Biden, three senior law enforcement officials said.

Investigators looked into whether Biden acted as an agent or a lobbyist for a foreign government — a potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Investigators ultimately determined there was no basis for charges beyond Biden’s gun application and his failure to pay his estimated taxes on time.

In April, an IRS special agent involved in the probe wrote to members of Congress claiming he could provide information that would reveal failures to handle “clear conflicts of interest” in the case and detail instances of “preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols.” The IRS has declined to comment on the allegations.

Law enforcement officials familiar with the matter described it as a thorough investigation involving criminal investigators, FBI agents and counterintelligence agents in Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware, white-collar crime and financial analysts from FBI headquarters in Washington and multiple prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware.

House Republicans have been investigating Hunter Biden's finances and have alleged that he was involved in a bribery scheme.

Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., said his committee would continue investigating Biden.

“These charges against Hunter Biden and sweetheart plea deal have no impact on the Oversight Committee’s investigation. We will not rest until the full extent of President Biden’s involvement in the family’s schemes are revealed,” Comer said Tuesday.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., suggested Weiss claimed the federal investigation is ongoing only in a bid to keep evidence from the probe out of Congress' hands.

"How can Hunter Biden plead guilty, no jail time, and the DOJ say there’s still an investigation, trying to withhold information to the House? That’s unacceptable and will not stand," McCarthy said.

Asked about McCarthy's comments Tuesday afternoon in an interview on MSNBC, Clark, Biden’s lawyer, said, "This was a five-year, very diligent investigation pursued by incredibly professional prosecutors," adding, "This is the resolution that was come to."

He also reiterated his belief that the agreement is the end of the investigation. Asked whether he would have signed off on the deal if he thought more charges were coming, Clark said, "No, I wouldn't."

The Justice Department wouldn’t comment on whether U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was consulted on the charges or played any role in signing off on them before Tuesday’s filing.

Garland had repeatedly vowed not to bend to any political pressure in the case, telling a Senate panel in April 2022 that “there will not be interference of any political or improper kind.”

Asked then how the public could have confidence in the investigation, Garland said: “Because we put the investigation in the hands of a Trump appointee from the previous administration. And because you have me as the attorney general, who is committed to the independence of the Justice Department from any influence from the White House in criminal matters.”

In a letter this month responding to Jordan's concerns about the treatment of the IRS agent who had complained about alleged conflicts of interest, Weiss said he couldn't answer questions about the case because it was an "open matter," but he reassured Jordan he was acting in accordance with the law, not politics.

"Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney my decisions have been made — and with respect to the matter must be made — without reference to political considerations," Weiss wrote.