A federal judge in Delaware formally dismissed misdemeanor tax charges against Hunter Biden on Thursday, but the president's son is expected to face the same charges — or new ones — in the near future.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika had been expected following a failed plea agreement last month between federal prosecutors and President Joe Biden's son.
Special counsel David Weiss' office moved to dismiss the charges last week, citing venue problems that would not have been an issue had Biden pleaded guilty, as initially expected.
Biden had agreed this year to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges related to his failure to pay income taxes in return for prosecutors’ recommending a sentence of probation. But the agreement fell apart over confusion at the plea hearing about a separate gun charge and questions the judge had about the deals.
As the U.S. attorney for Delaware. Weiss was the main prosecutor at the time. He has since been named special counsel.
“After the hearing, the parties continued negotiating but reached an impasse. A trial is therefore in order,” prosecutors said last week.
They indicated they would most likely charge Biden in California or Washington, D.C. “The Government, in the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion, is considering what tax charges to bring in another district and may elect to bring the same charges set forth in the instant information or different ones,” the filing said.
Biden attorney Abbe Lowell said Friday in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that if the special counsel does anything other than refile the same misdemeanor tax charges in a jurisdiction that has venue, "then people should ask themselves the following question: After five years and all the things that were investigated, if anything changes in what happens next, then people should ask it has to be something other than the facts or the law that has been infecting the process at this point."
The judge has not ruled on an issue involving the separate gun charge, a felony alleging Biden illegally owned a Colt Cobra .38 Special handgun during a period when he was using drugs. Under the terms of the scuttled plea deal, the charge would have been dropped in two years had Biden honored the terms of a diversion agreement with prosecutors.
Biden's attorneys said last week they consider that deal — which included a passage protecting him from some other possible charges — was still in effect because both sides had signed it.
Prosecutors say the deal was not in effect, because the agreement also needed to be signed off on by the probation office and it had not been.
One of Biden's lawyers, Chris Clark, moved to withdraw from the case during the back and forth, saying he expected to be called as a witness in the dispute. Noreika signed off on his withdrawal in a separate order late Thursday.