In a significant development in U.S. politics, Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges in Los Angeles.
These charges, related to his business dealings between 2016 and 2019, have also sparked an impeachment inquiry against his father.
Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to tax evasion charges, trial set for June
Hunter, 53, is accused of evading $1.4 million in taxes while indulging in extravagant spending on various luxury items. He faces a potential prison sentence of up to 17 years if convicted.
Dressed in a navy blue suit, Hunter Biden firmly stated “not guilty” to the charges in response to U.S. District Judge Mark Scarsi’s query during the court session.
Judge Scarsi scheduled the trial for June 20. Post-hearing, Biden made no comments to the media or protesters and left the courthouse in a federal motorcade through a rear exit.
His lawyer, Abbe Lowell, contends that Biden, having paid his back taxes, is being targeted due to his family’s high profile.
Substance abuse and separate federal case
Hunter Biden, who has openly talked about his struggles with substance abuse, has not held any position in the White House or his father’s campaign.
He also faces unrelated charges in Delaware for allegedly lying about his drug use while purchasing a gun, a crime carrying up to a decade in prison if he’s found guilty.
Both cases are led by federal prosecutor David Weiss, appointed special prosecutor in 2019.
Last year, a federal judge dismissed a proposed plea deal, and the Justice Department has indicated that the investigation into Hunter Biden is ongoing.
Contempt of Congress and political implications
U.S. House Republicans are seeking to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for his refusal to testify privately in their impeachment inquiry against President Biden, which could lead to additional criminal charges.
Hunter has agreed to testify publicly, but lawmakers have declined this offer.
His surprise appearance at a House hearing has heightened tensions on Capitol Hill.
Republican investigators are scrutinizing his work with businesses in Ukraine and China during his father’s vice presidency, but no evidence of misconduct by the elder Biden has been found.
Hunter Biden’s income and international connections
Prosecutors claim that Hunter Biden earned over $7 million from 2016 to 2019, including substantial income from his role on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian industrial conglomerate, and CEFC China Energy Co Ltd, a Chinese energy conglomerate.
Amidst these legal battles, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll indicates that public opinion is divided on whether the prosecution is politically motivated and whether Hunter receives preferential treatment from prosecutors.
This high-profile case involving the president’s son has become a focal point of political and legal controversy, with implications for the Biden administration and the broader political landscape in the United States.
As the trial approaches, it continues to garner significant attention from the media, public, and political circles.