Special counsel David Weiss intends to seek an indictment against President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, relating to gun charges by the end of the month, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Hunter Biden had previously reached a deal involving a felony gun possession charge that would have allowed him to avoid prosecution if he met certain conditions over a 24 month period. However, after his plea deal to resolve two tax charges fell apart in court, the future of the gun deal has been in limbo.
“The Speedy Trial Act requires that the Government obtain the return of an indictment by a grand jury by Friday, September 29, 2023, at the earliest. The Government intends to seek the return of an indictment in this case before that date,” the special counsel’s office said in a court filing.
Prosecutors did not say how many charges would be brought.
Hunter Biden’s gun-related legal troubles relate to a firearm he purchased in October 2018. While buying a revolver at Delaware gun shop, he lied on a federal form when he swore that he was not using, and was not addicted to, any illegal drugs – even though he was struggling with crack cocaine addiction at the time of the purchase.
It’s a federal crime to lie on that ATF form or to possess a firearm as a drug user. (Hunter Biden possessed the gun for about 11 days in 2018.) Prosecutors have previously said the statute of limitations for some of these offenses is set to expire in October.
Weiss has been leading the Hunter Biden investigation since late 2018. Over the years, his team investigated potential felony tax evasion, illegal foreign lobbying, money laundering and other matters, largely tied to Hunter Biden’s overseas business deals.
The probe appeared to be winding down in June, when Weiss announced a two-pronged agreement where Hunter Biden would plead guilty to two federal tax misdemeanors, and enter into a “diversion agreement” where the gun charge would be dropped in two years if he passed drug tests and stayed out of legal trouble.
But at a stunning court hearing in July, the deal collapsed under scrutiny from the federal judge overseeing the case. The two sides tried to renegotiate an agreement, but talks reached an impasse and Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel status in August – a major escalation in the probe.
In addition to the gun case, Weiss is still weighing whether to charge Hunter Biden with tax crimes. He said in a court filing last month that “a trial is now in order” on the tax offenses ad that he “may bring tax charges” possibly in California or Washington, DC.
Hunter Biden’s tax-related legal jeopardy emerged after he repeatedly missed IRS deadlines to pay his taxes on time. (He eventually paid roughly $2 million to the federal government to settle his debts, along with penalties and interest.)
House Republicans made their first official ask to Hunter Biden’s attorneys for documents on Wednesday related to the defunct plea agreement, two sources told CNN, laying the groundwork for a potential subpoena down the line.
The request for documents marks a new chapter for the House Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees, which have been investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings for months without turning up any direct evidence that pinpoints wrongdoing by the president.
“Should you refuse to provide the Committee with the requested information because of any purported privilege, the Committee may need to seek testimony from you and/or Hunter Biden regarding the disclosure of these documents and communications,” the letter from the committee chairs to Hunter Biden’s lawyers reads.
Their request focuses on a series of communications between Weiss and other DOJ officials regarding the potential gun- and tax-related charges against Hunter Biden, drafts of the proposed plea agreement and immunity language, and emails between Hunter Biden’s attorneys and The New York Times and Politico, among other materials.
The committees gave Hunter Biden’s attorneys until September 20 to respond.
This story has been updated with additional developments.