Hunter Biden walked into a Delaware federal court on Wednesday expecting to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors that likely would have resulted in probation for two tax law misdemeanors, avoid prison on a felony gun charge, and receive broad immunity from future prosecution on a variety of other potential charges.
Biden instead pleaded not guilty to the tax violations after the deal was scuttled following probing questions from the federal judge who exposed and undermined the unprecedented and likely unconstitutional arrangement, the Conservative Brief reported.
Now, President Joe Biden's son possibly faces actual prosecution on the current charges, the potential for future charges in an admittedly ongoing federal investigation, as well as arrest and punishment if he violates the stringent conditions of release imposed on him by the judge following his not guilty plea.
According to Fox News, it was widely anticipated that U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika would sign off in approval of a plea deal arrangement worked out over the past month between Hunter Biden's defense attorneys and federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware.
However, the roughly three-hour-long Wednesday court hearing took an unexpected turn when Noreika stated that she refused to simply "rubberstamp" the plea deal on the tax misdemeanors and diversion agreement on the felony gun charge and instead began asking questions about various terms and provisions buried deep within them that raised constitutionality concerns.
Of particular concern was a provision within the diversion agreement that would seemingly grant broad immunity to Hunter Biden on a wide range of potential future criminal charges -- which compelled prosecutors to acknowledge, albeit rather vaguely, that the president's son was still under investigation and could potentially face additional charges in the future.
The judge also raised the issue of the constitutionality of a provision that would seemingly place the onus on her to decide whether or not to pursue federal charges against Biden if he violated the terms of the agreement -- a decision that is explicitly assigned to the executive branch and not the judicial branch by the U.S. Constitution.
Fox News further reported that Judge Noreika repeatedly granted brief periods of time for the defense and prosecutors to rework their agreement during the hearing, but noted that the deal fell apart completely after prosecutors were forced by the judge to admit to the existence of an "ongoing investigation" and the possibility that additional federal charges could eventually be filed.
That was deemed to be unacceptable by Biden's attorney Chris Clark, who openly declared in court, "As far as I’m concerned, the plea deal is null and void."
In the end, Judge Noreika declined to approve any sort of arrangement during that hearing and instead ordered both sides to continue to consult with one another and to submit additional briefings to her, though she did not immediately set a date for the next hearing in the matter.
With the original plea deal now scuttled, according to the Washington Examiner, Hunter Biden now faces the possibility of up to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of the two tax law misdemeanor violations and up to 10 years in prison and a substantial fine for the felony gun charge.
Those tax law violations include Biden's allegedly willful failure to pay taxes on income received in 2017 and 2018, while the felony gun charge stemmed from his lying about his admitted drug abuse and addiction on a federal firearms purchase form in 2018.
Meanwhile, following his not guilty plea, Biden was compelled by the judge to agree to certain "conditions of release" that included court supervision, active employment, notification of any international travel, a prohibition against the use of alcohol or drugs, submission to drug and alcohol testing, and possible substance abuse treatment and counseling.
If the president's son fails to fully abide by those terms, he could face arrest for contempt of court and imprisonment or fines in addition to any sentence he might receive if found guilty of the initial federal charges filed against him.