By Jack Queen
(Reuters) -Lawyers for Hunter Biden said in a late Sunday court filing that prosecutors reneged on a plea deal that would have resolved tax and firearms charges against the U.S. president’s son as his father seeks reelection.
Delaware federal prosecutors said on Friday that Hunter Biden may be headed for a criminal trial after plea negotiations broke down.
U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected a proposed plea deal in July, raising concerns over its legality and the scope of immunity it offered Hunter Biden.
Under that proposed arrangement, Hunter Biden would have pleaded guilty to not paying taxes on $1.5 million in income between 2017 and 2018 and entered into a separate deferred prosecution agreement for illegally owning a firearm while using drugs, a felony.
The case has become a political lightning rod as Republicans in Congress raise the possibility of impeaching Biden over his son’s business dealings and accuse the Department of Justice of giving him a “sweetheart deal.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has denied Republican accusations of favoritism. On Friday, he elevated Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, an appointee of former President Donald Trump who has been investigating the case since 2019, to special counsel status, which gives him additional authority.
If the case goes to trial, the president would be campaigning for reelection in November 2024, likely against former president Donald Trump, as his son faces criminal prosecution.
Trump, a Republican, faces three criminal trials of his own next year.
(Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru and Jack Queen in New York; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Robert Birsel)