1 of 2 | Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges Wednesday after a plea agreement fell through during a court hearing. File photo by Ting Shen/UPI | License Photo
July 26 (UPI) -- Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges as plans to reach a plea deal fell through Wednesday amid a dispute between the legal teams over a separate gun-related charge.
The plea came as lawyers deliberated for more than three hours over the terms of the original deal as Biden appeared in court with the intent of pleading guilty.
Presiding District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned whether he would still agree to the terms of his plea arrangement if there was a potential for additional charges in the future. Biden said he would not and Noreika ordered the proceedings to stop while calling for a "meeting of the minds" to help settle the issue.
Biden's lawyer Chris Clark said at one point during the hearing that the deal was off.
"As far as I'm concerned, the plea agreement is null and void," said Clark.
Noreika ordered the two sides to file additional briefs explaining the structure of the deal, which she described as "unusual."
"We don't usually make diversion agreements in public," she said.
If the issue isn't resolved, Hunter Biden would face a court trial.
Biden in June said he would plead guilty to two federal offenses connected with his taxes and businesses. The son of President Joe Biden, who is the first child of a sitting president to face charges from the Justice Department, faced misdemeanor charges for failing to pay federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018, despite owing more than $100,000 in taxes in each of those years.
Hunter Biden also possessed a firearm in October 2018 despite "knowing he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance," a charge for which he had agreed to enter a pretrial diversion agreement to avoid prosecution.
The case marks the first time the Justice Department has brought charges against the child of a sitting president. And amid claims of a "witch hunt" against Republicans, most notably against former President Donald Trump, the case against the younger Biden has become something of a rallying point for the GOP.
The investigation started during the Trump administration and continued under Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss when President Joe Biden took office. Republicans wanted a special prosecutor for the case, though the Justice Department rejected the call on grounds the investigation should be free of politics.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., has long suspected there's a legacy of foul play among the Biden family. The plea deal, he said, amounted to a "slap on the wrist" for federal offenses.
"Let's be clear: the Department of Justice's charges against President Biden's son Hunter reveals a two-tiered system of justice," he said.