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Justice Dept. pushes back on Hunter Biden’s efforts to dismiss charges, mirroring fights between Trump and prosecutors

Special counsel David Weiss ridiculed efforts by Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, to dismiss tax charges against him as legally baseless and steeped in a “conspiracy theory,” in court filings Friday.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys have argued that the tax case against him should be dismissed because, among other things, Weiss was unlawfully appointed as special counsel and that the plea agreement between the president’s son and Weiss – which blew up in hearing last summer – is still valid.

The arguments between Weiss and Hunter Biden’s attorneys mirror arguments put forth by Donald Trump in his own special counsel cases. Their similarities underscore how cases brought by a special counsel – no matter who the defendant is – are often fought through similar, and sometimes political, playbooks.

Hunter Biden faces nine tax-related charges in California for allegedly failing to pay over $1 million dollars in taxes from 2016 to 2019 as well as several gun charges in a separate case out of Delaware over allegedly purchasing a pistol while using illicit drugs. He has pleaded not guilty.

Like Trump, Hunter Biden has argued the special counsel overseeing his criminal cases was unlawfully appointed. But there were fundamental differences in their arguments – while Trump slammed Attorney General Merrick Garland as not having any power to appoint special counsel Jack Smith, Hunter Biden claimed that Garland is required to tap someone from outside the Justice Department and should not have picked Weiss, who previously served as the US attorney for Delaware.

Both Weiss and Smith pushed back in the same way, arguing that Garland has the authority to appoint whoever he wants as special counsel.

“For 150 years, the Attorney General has had plenary authority to empower one of his officers to litigate particular cases in federal court,” Weiss wrote in a court filing Friday. “Defendant offers no persuasive reason as to why that authority has not been properly exercised here.”

In another filing in the California case Friday, Weiss also dismissed Hunter Biden’s argument that his office decided to renege on their original plea agreement because of political pressure.

Trump, in his own cases, has continued to claim he too is the victim of political games. His argument, however, rests on a deep-state conspiracy theory that Smith is directly doing the bidding of the president, and not the more innocuous – but also unproven – arguments from Hunter Biden.

Weiss, in his filing, said that after a federal judge refused in the summer of 2023 to accept the plea deal with Hunter Biden, the parties continued to negotiate over the proposed plea agreement but “those negotiations were unsuccessful” and the deal was withdrawn.

“From this fairly unremarkable set of procedural events,” Weiss wrote, “the defendant concocts a conspiracy theory that the prosecution has ‘upped the ante’ to appease politicians who have absolutely nothing to do with the prosecution and are not even members of the current Executive Branch.”

A trial for the California tax case is currently set for June and the judge presiding over the gun-related case in Delaware has set a status conference next week to discuss a trial timeline in the case there.

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