Hunter Biden asks Los Angeles judge to toss out $1.4m tax evasion case

<span>Hunter Biden’s trial is due to start in June, a few months before Americans vote in the 2024 election.</span><span>Photograph: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images</span>
Hunter Biden’s trial is due to start in June, a few months before Americans vote in the 2024 election.Photograph: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
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Attorneys representing Hunter Biden asked a US judge in Los Angeles to dismiss the criminal case accusing him of evading $1.4m in taxes, arguing that prosecutors bowed to political pressure from Republican lawmakers investigating his father, Joe Biden.

Hunter’s lawyers appeared before the US district judge Mark Scarsi in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday to press several legal challenges to the charges, including an argument that he was selectively targeted by prosecutors in response to Republican criticism. The 54-year-old was not present in the courtroom.

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Hunter has pleaded not guilty to failing to pay $1.4m in taxes between 2016 and 2019, while spending millions of dollars on drugs, escorts, exotic cars and other big-ticket items. His lawyer has said he paid back the money in full.

US district judge Mark Scarsi appeared to give a skeptical reception to dismissal request. At the hearing, Scarsi asked whether Hunter’s lawyers had any evidence that prosecutors had caved to pressure from Republicans, other than the fact that they filed charges after months of accusations by Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump that he had been treated leniently.

“Do you have any evidence other than the timeline?” Scarsi asked Hunter’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

Lowell acknowledged that “it’s a timeline, but it’s a juicy timeline”.

Scarsi also voiced skepticism about Hunter’s defense team’s argument that prosecutors had been pressured by two Internal Revenue Service agents who went public last year with information about his tax returns.

“How are they responsible for what’s in the indictment?” Scarsi asked.

“I can’t make the connection that that’s why that happened,” Lowell said, later adding that: “It was those two agents that started the dominoes.”

Leo Wise, one of the prosecutors on the case, said it was “patently absurd” that the agents had influenced prosecutors.

The trial of the president’s youngest son is due to start in June, a few months before Americans vote in a November presidential election that looks set to be a close and deeply divisive contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Hunter also faces a separate criminal case in federal court in Delaware over his alleged purchase of a handgun while he was using illegal drugs. He has pleaded not guilty and made similar arguments to dismiss the charges in that case.

The special counsel David Weiss, who brought both cases, has accused Hunter Biden’s legal team of spreading “conspiracy theories” about the prosecution. He has said the justice department would not act at the direction of Republican lawmakers, who are pursuing an impeachment investigation into whether Joe Biden profited from his son’s activities. The inquiry has turned up no evidence that the president personally benefited.

Hunter is also seeking to toss out the charges by arguing that Weiss, who has investigated him since 2019, was improperly appointed special counsel.

Hunter’s defense team has also argued that the case is barred by an earlier plea deal the president’s son struck with prosecutors. The deal collapsed under questioning from a federal judge last year. Prosecutors have said it never took effect.