Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two tax offenses. President Joe Biden's son tentatively assured that he had not evaded federal income tax during 2017 and 2018. The charges against him were minor, but they already represent an increasing problem for the White House.
It all started with an investigation against Hunter that has been going on for five years. During this time, several controversies involving Biden's son were uncovered. These included photos of him engaging in sexual activities and taking drugs, which were published by the Marco Polo group. That issue, although it aroused the curiosity and anger of a large part of society, went unnoticed by Justice, which decided to focus on other matters in which Hunter's role was also relevant.
An investigation that has been active for five years
It happened in 2018. That year, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, Davis Weiss, began probing Hunter Biden's finances. The counsel, appointed by then-President Donald Trump, found that the current president's son may have committed a money laundering offense. In addition, he was charged with a lesser charge after failing to pay more than $100,000 in income tax between 2017 and 2018.
Along with this, he was also charged with a new count of having purchased and thereby possessing an illegal handgun in 2018. In order to acquire it, he had to make a false declaration on the government form for the purchase of weapons. A crime punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
The charges against him were filed on June 21 and, at that time, Hunter Biden decided to enter into a plea agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and pleaded guilty to the two lesser cases. The settlement had to be approved by a federal judge and, after that, the president's son had to appear in court.
IRS accuses DOJ of stalling Hunter Biden investigation
Everything seemed settled but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) jumped right into the case and claimed that the DOJ was interfering with its investigation. An employee of the federal organization, Gary Shapley, testified in May before the House Ways and Means Committee and claimed that Joe Biden's son owed $2.2 million in taxes between 2014 and 2019.
It wasn't the only thing he accused Hunter of. He also stated that the investigation team found a few suspicious expenditures and that the evidence gathered would land "any other person" in prison. It was then that Hunter Biden's illegal activities were discovered, including prostitution and payments to drug traffickers.
Gary Shapley was not the only IRS employee to testify in the case against Hunter. So did another Internal Revenue Service worker, Joseph Ziegler, both of whom were harshly attacked by the lawyers in charge of defending Joe Biden's son. Hunter's attorney, Abbe Lowell, wrote a letter to the committee's chairman, Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO), in which he accused the witnesses of "feeding the misinformation campaign to harm our client." According to him, they did so "in an attempt to evade their own misconduct":
It is no secret these interviews were orchestrated recitations of mischaracterized an incomplete "facts" by disgruntled agents who believed they knew better than the federal prosecutors who had all the evidence as they conducted their five-year investigation of Mr. Biden.
NEW w/ @StefWKight: Hunter's lawyer Abbe Lowell has sent a blistering letter to House Ways and Means chairman Jason smith over the IRS Transcripts, accusing him of "feed the misinformation campaign to harm our client...as a vehicle to attack his father."https://t.co/iat8DBcIFC pic.twitter.com/rkqQJtwkm9
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) June 30, 2023
Illegal activities abroad
The investigation continued and thanks to the statements of the two IRS witnesses it was also discovered that Hunter Biden may have illegal business dealings abroad. The DOJ, however, had another culprit in mind and decided to charge Dr. Gal Luft with eight federal crimes.
Luft thus faced felonies for acting as an unregistered foreign agent, arms trafficking, violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, and making false statements to federal agents. Charges spoken about by FBI Acting Deputy Assistant Director Chris M. Curtis, who said the bureau's intention was to arrest the man, considered a key witness in the Biden family corruption investigation:
The defendant engaged in multiple schemes to evade sanctions and laws intended to protect our national security. The FBI is determined to defend our nation by enforcing laws designed to promote transparency of foreign influence within the United States.
The indictment came shortly after Luft released a video claiming he had fled the country after being arrested in Cyprus in February in an attempt to stop him from testifying against the Biden family before the House Oversight Committee:
BREAKING — Israeli professor Dr. Gal Luft, the "missing witness" in the Biden corruption investigation, accuses the Bidens of receiving bribes from individuals linked to Chinese military intelligence and using an FBI mole named "One Eye" to share classified information with CEFC… pic.twitter.com/ADGC8pXTr8
— KanekoaTheGreat (@KanekoaTheGreat) July 6, 2023
A few weeks later, Ziegler and Shapley testified before the House Oversight Committee and, once again, the subject of the Biden family's foreign influence came up again. In this case, IRS workers claimed that the Biden family received several payments from various foreign entities between 2014 and 2019. The sum, they revealed, was worth up to $17 million and came from Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and China.
The relationship between Hunter Biden and Burisma
This brought in the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which became particularly relevant in the investigation. James Comer, president of the commission, assured that there was an FBI report that corroborated the bribes of Hunter Biden's son to favor his dealings with the Ukrainian energy company.
According to the documents Comer filed, both Hunter and the family's limited liability companies received payments from Burisma. The goal? To prevent the Ukrainian prosecutor general from investigating the energy company.
Shortly thereafter, Senator Chuck Grassley released an unclassified document that would show that indeed Burisma CEO Mykola Zlochevsky had paid both Joe Biden and his son Hunter a substantial sum of money. In addition, the senator assured that the "confidential human source" who had revealed this information had many messages and recordings showing that the Biden family had forced the director of Burisma to pay millions of dollars for their help:
Thx to whistleblowers now the world can see what ive seen & what the FBI tried to conceal Serious allegations from trusted FBI source What did the FBI do to investigate???? pic.twitter.com/7Asokoc6ao
— Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley) July 20, 2023
Problems with Hunter Biden's legal team
The case continued, and days before Joe Biden's son was scheduled to testify in court, his legal team began making headlines. The first to do so was his attorney, Abbe Lowell. He lashed out at Marjorie Taylor Greene when the Georgia representative showed sexually explicit photos of his client during a congressional hearing.
In a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), Lowell said that the representative's behavior was "abhorrent" and "blatantly violates House Ethics rules and standards of official conduct":
If the OCE takes its responsibilities seriously, it will promptly and decisively condemn and discipline Ms. Greene for her latest actions. Now more than ever, the House has a duty to make loud and clear that it does not endorse, condone, or agree with her outrageous, undignified conduct and brazen violations of the standards of official conduct that do not reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.
He was followed by another of Hunter Biden's lawyers, Kevin Morris. He was captured smoking a bong while receiving a visit from Hunter Biden, although it could not be ascertained what substance it contained.
Jessica Bengels' mysterious call to the Tribunal
However, the most serious thing happened the day before Hunter Biden's deposition in court. That day the committee's attorney, Theodore Kittila, charged that Hunter's attorney, Jessica Bengels, had pretended to be on his team in an attempt to have the transcribed testimony of the two IRS whistleblowers removed from the trial. She did so by "misrepresenting her identity" through a call to the Court.
An action that was discovered when the Delaware District Judge in charge of the case, Maryellen Noreika, published part of a letter she received in which Kittila denounced what had happened:
At approximately 1:30 p.m., we received word that our filing was removed from the docket. We promptly contacted the Clerk’s office, and we were advised that someone contacted the Court representing that they worked with my office and that they were asking the Court to remove this from the docket. We immediately advised that this was inaccurate. The Clerk’s Office responded that we would need to re-file. We have done so now.
Hours later, both Bengels and Hunter Biden's legal team claimed that it was a misunderstanding caused by miscommunication between her and the person who received the call:
I am completely confident that I never indicated that I was calling from Mr. Kittila’s firm or that I worked with him in any way. The only mention of his name was when [the clerk] had asked me if the filings had been entered by Mr. Kittila’s firm and I answered that I believed that to be the case.
Hunter Biden pleads not guilty
That same day, Hunter Biden appeared in court and to everyone's surprise, provisionally pleaded not guilty to the two lesser charges of tax evasion. He did so after it became known that Judge Maryellen Noreika had rejected Hunter Biden's agreement with the DOJ because she had doubts about its constitutionality. A pact that would prevent the president's son from going to prison for the crime of illegal purchase and possession of a firearm as long as he pleads guilty to the tax crimes.
Despite pleading not guilty, Justice Department prosecutors assured that the investigation into Hunter Biden remains ongoing, although they did not elaborate on the reasons for that investigation.