A federal court judge overseeing the plea deal between federal prosecutors and Hunter Biden said she had concerns about the deal after the Department of Justice said it’s still investigating President Joe Biden’s son.
Questions over whether Hunter Biden could face additional charges stemming from the ongoing investigation, as well as the judge’s questions about the deal itself, led to the hearing ending without a resolution.
“It seems to me like you are saying ‘just rubber stamp the agreement, Your Honor.’ … This seems to me to be form over substance,” Judge Maryellen Noreika said, according to The Associated Press.
Hunter Biden pleaded guilty at the hearing to two misdemeanor charges related to allegedly fraudulent tax filings, and would receive a deferment on a felony firearms charge, but said he would reverse his plea if the agreement falls apart, according to Fox News.
Biden allegedly underpaid his federal taxes by over $100,000 in both 2017 and 2018, the AP reported.
Noreika, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump at the recommendation of Delaware’s two Democratic senators, said she would defer a decision on whether to implement the agreement, according to The New York Times.
The Times reported that Noreika, “at times angrily,” asked how she could approve an agreement she had “concerns about.”
She questioned whether, under the deal, Biden had blanket immunity from prosecution for other potential charges, and whether the federal investigation was ongoing.
Federal prosecutor Leo Wise said the investigation is still open and the government could potentially bring charges against Biden related to the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to Fox News.
After some back and forth, Biden attorney Chris Clark then said the plea agreement was “null and void,” per the Times.
Biden’s attorneys appeared to believe that the deal precluded any further charges against him, per The Times.
Noreika gave both defense attorneys and prosecutors 30 days to tell her why she should accept the deal, the AP said.
Republicans had questioned the plea agreement, saying it revealed an unfair criminal justice system. House Republicans have held hearings into Biden’s alleged dealings with foreign companies and officials, and have suggested his father may also be involved.
A former business associate of the Biden family, Devon Archer, is expected to testify in a closed-door House Oversight Committee hearing on Monday, where he will be asked questions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, China and Russia, according to a subpoena issued by the committee in June.
Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., released a statement after Hunter Biden’s appearance in court Wednesday, saying the judge “did the right thing by refusing to rubber-stamp Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal.”
“But let’s be clear: Hunter’s sweetheart plea deal belongs in the trash,” he continued.
The White House continues to avoid commenting on Hunter Biden and whether the president was engaged with him in any of his business dealings. At a press briefing Wednesday, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said he is a “private citizen.”
“The president, the first lady, they love their son and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life,” she said.
She said additional questions should be directed to the Department of Justice and Hunter Biden’s attorneys.