US District Judge Maryellen Noreika said she was not ready to accept the plea deal, and has asked both sides to file additional briefs explaining the legal structure of the revised deal.
The hearing was temporarily derailed when judge Noreika said she didn’t understand what Hunter Biden could still be charged with. She asked questions that exposed a difference of understanding between Justice Department prosecutors and Biden’s lawyer, Chris Clark.
“I don’t really understand the scope” of the agreement, Noreika said. She noted that Biden has had numerous foreign business dealings. At one point, she raised a hypothetical as to whether Biden could be charged as acting as an unregistered foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. –Bloomberg
She also called the deal federal prosecutors reached with Hunter over his gun possession offense “unusual,” and that it contains some “non-standard terms,” such as “broad immunity” from other potential charges.
“We don’t usually make diversion agreements public,” she said.
Leo Wise, an assistant US attorney representing the government at the hearing, said that Biden could still be charged with a FARA violation. His statement prompted Clark to object to the scope of what Biden could still be charged with.
Noreika asked the prosecutors and defense lawyers to resolve their differences about the plea agreement and temporarily adjourned the hearing.
When the hearing resumed, Wise and Clark said they were in agreement that the non-prosecution aspects of the deal will be limited to only tax violations, drug offenses and a firearm violation during the years 2014 to 2019. Biden can still be charged for crimes outside the scope of the deal. -Bloomberg
Under the original plea agreement, Biden intended to plea guilty to two misdemeanor tax crimes committed in 2017 and 2018, and would avoid prison on the gun possession charge.
As part of the conditions for Hunter’s release, he must not consume alcohol or prohibited drugs, or possess a firearm, must submit to random drug tests as required, must actively seek employment and not violate any laws.