Special Counsel David Weiss on Tuesday strongly rejected claims that his office “reneged” on a plea deal for the president’s son to resolve federal tax and gun charges, while stressing that agreement is “not in effect.”
Weiss, in a filing Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, fired back at Hunter Biden’s legal team, which, over the weekend, filed a motion stating that “the parties have a valid and binding bilateral Diversion Agreement.”
“First, the Government did not ‘renege’ on the ‘previously agreed-upon Plea Agreement,’ as the Defendant inaccurately asserts in the first substantive sentence of his response,” Weiss wrote in the filing, adding that Hunter Biden “chose to plead not guilty at the hearing on July 26, 2023, and U.S. Probation declined to approve the proposed diversion agreement at that hearing. Thus, neither proposed agreement entered into effect.”
Weiss said instead, “as of the end of the hearing on July 26, the two proposed agreements were drafts that either party could propose changes to. And both parties did so following the hearing.
“Without going into the substance of the negotiations between the parties, in the afternoon after the hearing on July 26, defense counsel asked to meet with the Government,” Weiss continued. “At that meeting, defense counsel proposed changes to both documents. The Government considered the Defendant’s proposals but did not believe they were in the best interests of the United States and offered counterproposals on July 31, 2023.”
Weiss said that Hunter Biden “rejected these counterproposals on August 7, 2023.”
“Seeing that the parties were at an impasse, the Government informed the Defendant, in writing on August 9, 2023, that it was withdrawing the most recent version of its proposed plea and diversion agreements,” Weiss wrote in the filing. “That is why the Government has asked the Court to vacate its briefing order and has moved to dismiss the criminal tax information.”
The plea deal in question collapsed in court last month when Judge Maryellen Noreika of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware questioned the felony tax charge. The deal would have had Hunter Biden plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges, but, due to the diversion program initially agreed upon by federal prosecutors and the president’s son’s attorneys, the felony gun charge would have been dropped if he stayed followed the court’s orders for a period of time.
Noreika declined, during his first court appearance related to federal tax and gun charges he faces, to accept the plea and pretrial diversion agreements with Hunter Biden. She described the DOJ’s deal as unconstitutional, “not standard” and “different from what I normally see.”
“To reiterate, the now-withdrawn diversion agreement, by its own terms, is not in effect,” Weiss wrote.
Weiss said the chief U.S. probation officer “did not approve the now-withdrawn diversion agreement,” stressed that “it never went into effect and, therefore, none of its terms are binding on either party.”
Now, the judge must mediate and determine whether she agrees with the government that the gun charge diversion agreement is not valid—or whether she agrees with Hunter Biden’s attorneys that it is valid.
During Hunter Biden’s first court appearance, the judge pressed federal prosecutors on the investigation, questioned whether there was the possibility for future charges, and asked prosecutors if Hunter Biden was currently under active investigation. Prosecutors said he was, but would not answer what the president’s son is under investigation for.
Prosecutors did say, though, that Hunter Biden pleading guilty to the two misdemeanor tax offenses would not immunize him from future charges.
Weiss’ filing comes after the Justice Department on Friday submitted a filing requesting to dismiss the case in Delaware.
“At the hearing on July 26, 2023, the Defendant did not plead guilty and therefore did not waive venue,” the Justice Department filing said. “After the hearing, the parties continued negotiating but reached an impasse…A trial is therefore in order. And that trial cannot take place in this District because, as explained, venue does not lie here.”
The DOJ explained that the “information was filed in this District because the parties had previously agreed that the Defendant would waive any challenge to venue and plead guilty in this District.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday also appointed U.S. attorney for Delaware David Weiss to serve as special counsel with jurisdiction over the Hunter Biden investigation and any other issues that have come up, or may come up, related to that probe.
Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, has been leading the Hunter Biden investigation for years. His appointment as special counsel comes amid allegations of politicization impacting prosecutorial decisions in the years-long investigation into the president’s son.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and David Spunt contributed to this report.