Hunter Biden's lawyers played heavy with the Department of Justice, effectively threatening to force President Joe Biden to testify in any criminal trial against the First Son if a plea agreement wasn't reached over his multiple alleged crimes.
"President Biden now unquestionably would be a fact witness for the defense in any criminal trial," wrote Hunter Biden attorney Chris Clark in a 32-page letter last fall, Politico reports, calling the news that there was enough evidence to charge Hunter an "illegal" leak.
That letter, along with more than 300 pages of previously unreported emails and documents exchanged between Hunter Biden’s legal team and prosecutors, sheds new light on the fraught negotiations that nearly produced a broad plea deal. That deal would have resolved Biden’s most pressing legal issues — the gun purchase and his failure to pay taxes for several years — and it also could have helped insulate Biden from future prosecution by a Republican-led Justice Department.
The documents show how the deal collapsed — a sudden turnabout that occurred after Republicans bashed it and a judge raised questions about it. The collapse renewed the prospect that Biden will head to trial as his father ramps up his 2024 reelection bid. -Politico
According to Clark, putting Joe Biden on the stand would create political and constitutional chaos by pitting Joe Biden against his own DOJ.
"This of all cases justifies neither the spectacle of a sitting President testifying at a criminal trial nor the potential for a resulting Constitutional crisis," reads the letter, which was shared with Politico along with several other documents.
In the spring of 2022, Hunter Biden's legal team was on the war path - using a PowerPoint presentation that invoked the looming ghost of Trump right from their opening slide. Their point was clear: Trump's ceaseless haranguing of Hunter makes any charges against the younger Biden appear as yielding to political pressure, thus damaging the integrity of the Justice Department.
Of course, Hunter put himself in the spotlight by taking tens of millions of dollars from Ukraine, China and Russia in exchange for zero identifiable benefit aside from access to his father.
While initial concerns surrounded possible charges of influence peddling or money laundering, the actual case circled around late tax payments from 2014 to 2019. Biden’s lawyers argued that charging Hunter with tax crimes would make the DOJ look like they had capitulated to Trump’s call for an investigation.
Fast-forward to later in 2022, and we discover that Hunter could also face federal gun charges, traced back to 2018 when he was deeply hooked on crack cocaine. As things escalated, Hunter’s attorneys sought meetings with the highest echelons of the DOJ. These were not mere fishing expeditions but highly strategic maneuvers designed to corner the department into a position where it had to make a call: either it would take a reputation hit for being "politically influenced" or face accusations of providing “preferential treatment” to the President’s son.
By spring 2023, it seems the DOJ was looking for an exit strategy, and were open to cutting a deal that would save face for everyone involved - especially the department itself. The proposed agreement doesn't require a guilty plea from Hunter but has its own laundry list of requirements.
From the fall of 2022 through the spring of 2023, Clark sought meetings with people at the highest levels of the Justice Department — almost entirely without success. In multiple emails, he asked to meet with the head of the Criminal Division, the head of the Tax Division, the Office of Legal Counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and the attorney general himself. On Feb. 21, 2023, Clark’s team reached out to multiple officials at Main Justice, who passed his request from one person to the next.
The search ended when Clark sent Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer an exasperated email, saying he had asked the government over and over to tell him who at headquarters they could appeal to if Weiss decided to charge their client. -Politico
"Please advise whether you would be the appropriate person to hear our client’s appeal, in the event that the U.S. Attorney’s Office decides to charge Mr. Biden," wrote Clark.
Two new reports -- one from NYT, the other from POLITICO -- report the Biden DOJ was eager to drop the Hunter Biden investigation entirely without even misdemeanor charges. Only the 2 IRS whistleblowers prevented this.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 20, 2023
Now, Biden's lawyers want the 2 whistleblowers prosecuted: https://t.co/aMP1LWsPZj
Weinsheimer caved, meeting with Clark and Weiss on April 26. While it's not clear what happened during the meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported that an IRS supervisor was prepared to testify that there was internal political pressure to slow walk and stonewall the investigation. Unlike Biden's lawyers who argued that their client was being treated too harshly because of politics, the IRS supervisor was set to testify that Hunter was receiving "preferential treatment."
After that, a deal emerged in May which would see Hunter admit to filing taxes late in 2017 and 2018, that he owned a gun while using drugs, and that he would both pay back-taxes and never own a gun again. If Hunter could stick to these basic agreements until January 2025, the DOJ would promise not to prosecute him for anything they'd investigated thus far.
"The Department of Justice agrees not to criminally prosecute Robert Hunter Biden and the affiliated businesses (namely: Owasco P.C.; Owasco LLC; and Skaneateles LLC): (a) for any federal crimes arising from the conduct generally described in the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A); or (b) for any other federal crimes relating to matters investigated by the United States," reads the now-dead plea deal.
Then, IRS investigator Gary Shapley testified that the DOJ had "slow-walked" the investigation.
Within days of the interview airing, Justice Department prosecutors made clear to Biden’s lawyers that the deal would have to change and that Biden would need to plead guilty to tax charges, according to two people familiar with the talks who were granted anonymity to share sensitive details.
Biden’s team acceded to the new demand, agreeing he would plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to pay his taxes. But he wouldn’t plead guilty to the gun charge; instead, that issue would be resolved through a pretrial diversion agreement that could result in withdrawal of charges after a few years. -Politico
Then, on the evening of June 2, Clark emailed Wolf to say that immunity from prosecution was vital to the deal - sending language to include saying that the US would not prosecute Hunter Biden for "any federal crimes arising from the conduct generally described" in the two documents that would be included in the final deal.
"This language or its functional equivalent is very critical to us," Clark added.
Reading between the lines - the deal would protect Hunter from a potential Trump administration, or that of another Republican who might win the 2024 election. The language Clark insisted on would have immense consequences:
"The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day. This Agreement does not provide any protection against prosecution for any future conduct by Biden or by any of his affiliated businesses."
Then, after a judge asked several questions about the deal at a hearing last month, the deal completely unraveled - and the prosecutor overseeing the probe has been made a special counsel, who says that the case is heading to trial.
On Thursday, the judge greenlighted a motion by prosecutors to withdraw the tax charges so they can be filed elsewhere. She also approved Clark's request to leave Biden's legal team because he may be called as a witness at a potential trial.
Whether Joe Biden could become a witness is now the big question.