A judge overseeing Hunter Biden’s criminal case sided with special counsel David Weiss on Wednesday by throwing out a plea agreement that would have shielded the president’s son from felony gun charges.
The move could deal a blow to Biden’s defense, which had centered on the argument that the plea agreement floated by Weiss in June was still in effect because both he and Biden signed it.
Earlier this month, Weiss’s team had filed a motion to dismiss the pretrial diversion agreement it had previously offered Biden. That part of the plea deal would have allowed Biden to avoid gun charges by meeting a set of conditions. The other part of the deal would have required Biden to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges.
Judge Maryellen Noreika had questioned the unusual structure of the plea agreement and diversion agreement, scrutinizing, in particular, a broad immunity provision that prosecutors placed in the diversion agreement.
Biden’s lawyers signaled in a filing last week that they planned to ask the court to dismiss the entire case based on the argument that the agreement had taken effect on July 26th, the day Noreika declined to sign off on the plea deal at a contentious hearing.
Biden and Weiss may have signed the agreement, but the court did not, leading Weiss to argue that it never took effect.
Abbe Lowell, Biden’s lead defense attorney, has publicly questioned both the constitutionality of the gun law under which his client is being prosecuted and the motivations of prosecutors. So far, however, defense attorneys have not mounted a defense of the actual conduct at issue.
The president’s son faces three charges related to his purchase of a firearm in 2018; prosecutors allege that he lied on paperwork to obtain the gun when he asserted he was not using illegal drugs at the time.
In the years since, Biden has given media interviews and written a memoir in which he admits he struggled with substance abuse during the period in which he bought the gun.
Biden’s lawyers have until Nov. 3rd to file their motion to dismiss the case. It’s unclear whether Noreika’s filing this week will prompt a change in Biden’s strategy.
In a filing last week, Lowell wrote that Biden “will seek to dismiss the Indictment based on the immunity provisions of that agreement,” referring to the diversion agreement that Noreika has now discarded.