Hunter Biden’s lead attorney in his criminal defense has formally requested permission from a federal judge to step down from the case, citing the breakdown of a previously arranged plea deal in late July.
Christopher Clark, a long-standing legal representative for Hunter, submitted a motion to the Delaware judge overseeing the case. As CNN reported, this move comes as Clark anticipates being called as a potential witness in future legal proceedings.
Recent developments indicate that federal prosecutors hit an impasse regarding Hunter’s plea agreement concerning tax-related offenses and a “diversion agreement” addressing charges related to firearm possession. This impasse led federal prosecutors to approach Judge Maryellen Noreika to revoke the late August deadline for renegotiating the plea deal. The judge expressed her hesitance to accept the deal as is and requested both sides to present additional legal arguments clarifying the revised terms.
Judge Noreika also remarked on the peculiarities of the arrangement federal prosecutors had reached with Hunter pertaining to the firearm possession offense. The terms included aspects such as “broad immunity” from potential further charges, which were considered non-standard.
The initial plea arrangement involved Hunter Biden admitting guilt to two misdemeanor tax-related violations committed in 2017 and 2018. In exchange, he would evade imprisonment for the firearm possession offense. Hunter was required to abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs and surrender his firearms as conditions of his release. The probationary period also required him to undergo random drug tests, actively seek employment, and to uphold the law.
In response to the unraveling of the plea deal, Hunter’s attorney Abbe Lowell blamed prosecutors for drafting agreements that the judge declined to approve. Despite these setbacks, Biden’s legal team maintains that the “gun diversion deal” remains legally binding.
Following the dissolution of the plea deal, US Attorney David Weiss was granted the status of “special counsel” by Attorney General Merrick Garland. This move was driven by an ongoing investigation that could potentially lead to charges outside the scope of the initial agreement.
The plea deal aimed to conclude a five-year inquiry into Hunter’s financial dealings and tax-related matters. Federal prosecutors assert that Hunter neglected to pay over $100,000 in income tax for earnings exceeding $1.5 million between 2017 and 2018.