Hunter Biden Must Cross Country for Court Hearing, Judge Rules, as IRS Official Corroborates Whistleblowers’ Allegations That Garland’s Lieutenants Stymied Probe
The first son’s court appearance will come just days after the first hearing of the House’s Oversight Committee’s first impeachment inquiry probing the president’s role in his son’s business affairs and whether he profited from them.
A judge has ruled that Hunter Biden must appear in person at a Delaware courthouse for a procedural hearing related to the firearms felonies he is facing. This comes as House Republicans forge ahead toward a formal impeachment inquiry, about to begin, into Mr. Biden’s business affairs and their connection to President Biden.
Mr. Biden fils will appear in a federal courthouse at Wilmington on October 3. He has been indicted on three counts related to his illegal purchase of a firearm in 2018 when he was in the throes of a yearslong drug and alcohol addiction.
The younger Mr. Biden’s attempt to keep himself out of the national spotlight as he prepares for trial began with a letter to a magistrate judge on Monday. “We respectfully request that the Court hold Mr. Biden’s initial appearance in this matter by video conference,” the first son’s lawyers wrote, arguing that his cross-country travel and the press attention the pretrial hearing would draw could create a “financial impact on government resources” and a “logistical burden on the downtown area of Wilmington.”
A federal magistrate judge at Delaware, Christopher Burke, issued an order on Wednesday denying Mr. Biden’s request for a virtual hearing, saying that the first son “should not receive special treatment in this manner — absent some unusual circumstances.” Because Judge Burke is a magistrate judge and not a Senate-confirmed federal judge, he will not preside over Mr. Biden’s criminal trial. The jurist who will take on that effort has yet to be chosen.
The younger Mr. Biden previously tried to brush off these criminal liabilities with what Republicans called a “sweetheart plea deal” with Delaware’s United States attorney, David Weiss, who has since been appointed special counsel to further the criminal investigation into the first son. The agreement would have allowed him to avoid prison time for “willful” income tax evasion and enter a pretrial diversion program for the handgun offense.
Mr. Biden is also still under investigation for the allegations of tax evasion, according to Mr. Weiss’s office, which said in a court filing that such activities will not be resolved “short of a trial.”
Allegations that Mr. Weiss mishandled the investigation into Mr. Biden’s alleged tax evasion went wide earlier this year when two Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers came before Congress to accuse Department of Justice higher-ups of slow-walking and obstructing Mr. Weiss’s five-year investigation into Mr. Biden. On September 12, a senior IRS criminal investigator, Michael Batdorf, spoke to the House Ways and Means Committee to defend one of those whistleblowers, Gary Shapley, describing him as an “excellent” criminal investigator.
The first son’s court appearance — which will handle the question of when the trial will begin and what the dollar amount for Mr. Biden’s bail will be — will come just days after the first hearing of the House’s impeachment inquiry probing the elder Mr. Biden’s role in his son’s business affairs and whether he profited from them — accusations the president denies forcefully.
A spokeswoman for the House Oversight Committee, Jessica Collins, told USA Today that the September 28 hearing would focus on “constitutional and legal questions surrounding” what Republicans claim is “the President’s involvement in corruption and abuse of public office.”
In a sign of the difficult political and legal challenges to come for the White House, Mr. Biden on September 1 appointed a new White House counsel, Ed Siskel, who has years of experience in handling congressional investigations during the Obama administration.
When he served President Obama between 2009 and 2014, Mr. Siskel played a key role in implementing the Affordable Care Act and handling Republican congressional investigations, including probes into the 2011 terrorist attack on the American consulate at Benghazi, Libya, and into Operation Fast and Furious, a botched Department of Justice operation in which federal agents were running weapons to Mexican drug cartels. As a result of the “Fast and Furious” investigation, Attorney General Holder was held in contempt of Congress.
Mr. Biden has also tasked a veteran Democratic public relations strategist, Ian Sams, to serve as the White House’s spokesman for oversight and investigations — a position that had not previously existed. Mr. Sams has taken an active role since assuming the position earlier this year in responding to Republican allegations of corruption.