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Hunter Biden: President’s Son Takes Plea Deal on Tax & Gun Charges, But Legal Trouble May Not Be Over

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Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, is pleading guilty to federal tax offenses and a separate felony gun charge for which he is avoiding prosecution, according to a plea agreement with the Justice Department announced Tuesday. The deal caps a multiyear probe by the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware. As a result, Hunter Biden is unlikely to spend any time behind bars despite the sweeping investigation into his personal and business conduct that Republicans have attempted to portray as unethical influence peddling directly implicating the president in corruption. But is this the end of Hunter Biden’s legal trouble? We speak with The Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein about the plea deal, as well as what other evidence the FBI may have about Hunter Biden.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Hunter Biden, the son of the president, has reached a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges as part of a deal that will allow him to avoid facing prosecution on a separate gun charge. The deal caps a multiyear investigation by the U.S. attorney in Delaware, who was appointed by Donald Trump but allowed to stay in his role by President Biden. House Republicans have described the deal as a “slap on the wrist” and vowed to continue to investigate Hunter Biden.

For more, we’re joined by Ken Klippenstein, investigative reporter with The Intercept, who co-wrote the piece with Ryan Grim headlined “What Does the FBI Have on Hunter and Joe Biden?”

Ken, thanks so much for being with us. Why don’t you lay out the results of this case? And again, it’s not the Democrats who are criticizing here. It’s the Republicans, who have been going after Hunter Biden for so many years.

KEN KLIPPENSTEIN: Thanks for having me, Amy.

To speak to the case, in May, a whistleblower, an FBI whistleblower, came forward to Senator Chuck Grassley, who is the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the FBI, and in this whistleblower’s report alleged that the FBI had something called an FD-1023. That’s a type of document that memorializes tips that they get from what’s called confidential human sources. That’s FBIspeak for informants. And according to — and, you know, I should remind listeners that the information we’re getting from this is from both Grassley and Representative Comer, who sits on — who chairs the Oversight Committee.

So, what this FD-1023 claims, according to them, is that President — then-Vice President Joe Biden received $5 million in exchange for policy decisions specifically to fire — to get fired the top prosecutor of Ukraine, who had been investigating what’s called Burisma Holdings. This is one of the biggest natural gas companies in Ukraine. And the allegation is that the reason for that payment is President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of directors of Burisma.

But what’s left out in a lot of the, frankly, partisan discussion about this — and that’s really the reason that we did the story, was just to look at what the basic facts were — is that this FD-1023, that’s just an allegation. They have not been verified. And that’s something that if you look closely at what the Republicans are saying, the more cautious ones have conceded that.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ken, much has been made about the Hunter Biden laptop and the attempt to suppress it. And so, the investigation apparently found nothing illegal in that laptop?

KEN KLIPPENSTEIN: Well, it’s complicated, and there are a number of investigations. And when the FBI talks about these things, they’re always very vague about it. You know, they don’t want to interfere with an ongoing investigation. But what was interesting about the laptop case is that, yes, you know, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani played a role in having it delivered to the FBI. They ended up investigating it. It appears, from these charges, at least, that that was not something that resulted in prosecutorial charges. But that’s something that the Republicans have been pushing very ardently to try to investigate. But there’s been no information from that laptop verifying any of the allegations I described before.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of the plea agreement reached, there are some that say that even prosecution for these misdemeanors was a stretch. And, of course, the Republicans are arguing that this was extreme leniency and a double standard by the Justice Department when it came to Hunter Biden. Your sense of the facts of what you uncovered?

KEN KLIPPENSTEIN: Yeah, there have been a number of — I saw — recently quoted a public defender describing how unusual the sentence was, in terms of how aggressively it was prosecuted. But we’re in territory that’s, you know, extremely politically sensitive and very partisan in nature. I mean, these top Republicans that I mentioned before — Representative Comer, again, chairs the Oversight Committee, and then Senator Grassley — have all but admitted that, you know, President Trump is being — former President Trump is being prosecuted in the classified documents case and in New York, and they’ve all but come out and said, you know, “Why don’t they prosecute Biden?” And so they’re very explicitly connecting the two cases and not being particularly subtle about the partisan and political nature of their call for these investigations and prosecutions.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Ken, if you can quickly say what he has pled guilty to? Explain the gun and tax charges.

KEN KLIPPENSTEIN: Yeah, so, he pled guilty to the tax charges in exchange for not being prosecuted for the gun charges. And so, he was in possession of these firearms at a time that he, by his own admission, was in the throes of addiction issues. And so, this was basically a deal with the prosecutors to get them not to prosecute on the other half of the case, which a lot of Republicans are looking at and saying, you know, “Look how soft they went on him.” But that’s a very standard procedure by which prosecutors adhere, offering lighter sentences in exchange for admissions.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, we just have 10 seconds, but the U.S. attorney Trump appointed?

KEN KLIPPENSTEIN: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: Ken Klippenstein, I want to thank you for being with us, investigative reporter with The Intercept. We’ll link to the piece that you co-wrote with Ryan Grim, “What Does the FBI Have on Hunter and Joe Biden?”

That does it for our show. Democracy Now! produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks so much for joining us.

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