Federal prosecutors who are weighing whether to bring charges against Hunter Biden for tax crimes and making a false statement to purchase a gun are reportedly concerned that the drug addiction that makes one case for them could provide a defense to the other.
The US attorney’s office in Delaware, which will make the decision on whether to bring a case against President Biden’s 52-year-old son, are currently holding off on a final determination as they review defense evidence, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The prosecutors are said to be struggling with whether the defense team could rely on Hunter’s sordid drug-fueled history — which is the basis for the gun permit lie allegations — to argue in the tax crimes case that he wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time.
President Biden’s son has been candid about his history of drug abuse and admitted in his own memoir released last year that he had been addicted to crack cocaine.
Meanwhile, Hunter’s defense team have met with Justice Department attorneys in recent weeks as they try to oppose the government’s potential case, the newspaper reported.
“As is proper and legally required, we believe the prosecutors in this case are diligently and thoroughly weighing not just evidence provided by agents, but also all the other witnesses in this case, including witnesses for the defense,” Hunter’s attorney Chris Clark said in a statement.
The revelations come after the Washington Post, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that federal agents determined months ago that they had enough evidence to bring a viable criminal case against Hunter.
But prosecutors are now assessing whether they think that evidence is actually strong enough to stand up in court and bring a conviction.
Law expert Jonathan Turley, who is a George Washington University professor, told The Post on Friday that drug addictions aren’t normally a factor in whether to bring charges in case.
“Usually a drug addiction is a mitigating factor on sentencing, not a bar to a charge,” he said.
Turley added that there was a concern that prosecutors could bring a “narrow scope of charges” — and then seal a plea bargain with “little or no jail time.”
“The result would be to practically close off the matter before any investigation by a GOP-controlled House of Representatives,” he said. “A convenient plea would work to the advantage of many in Washington, including the media.”
Meanwhile, former Detroit US Attorney Barbara McQuade noted that prosecutors needed to prove high criminal intent for a tax crime case.
“Tax violations require the highest level of criminal intent, willfulness, that is, the government must prove that the person not only knew what he was doing, but that he knew it was illegal,” McQuade said.
The initial tax crimes probe, which started in 2018 and focused on Hunter’s overseas business dealings, has since shifted to whether he reported all his income from foreign transactions.
Hunter announced in December 2020 that his “tax affairs” were being investigated by federal authorities in Delaware — and said he was “confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately.”
Meanwhile, Hunter is also facing charges by the same Trump-appointed prosecutor over whether he lied about his history of drug abuse to purchase a gun in 2018.
A copy of his Oct. 12, 2018 gun transaction form, obtained by Politico last year, revealed that Hunter had answered “no” to the question asking, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
Hunter was in the midst of his crack cocaine addiction around the time he purchased the firearm, according to material on his abandoned laptop and in his memoir.
Lying on a federal gun purchase form is a felony and the DOJ previously has jailed people for similar offenses.