(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden is appearing in a Delaware courthouse Wednesday to formally agree to the plea deal he negotiated last month with federal prosecutors, in what could bring a close to the Justice Department’s yearslong probe into the younger Biden’s business affairs.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Jul 26, 10:25 AM EDT
Hunter Biden arrives at courthouse
Hunter Biden has arrived at the federal court in Delaware for this morning’s hearing.
The younger Biden and his legal team arrived shortly before 9:30 a.m.
Jul 26, 7:20 AM EDT
Hunter Biden’s legal team threatened with sanctions
Less than 24 hours before Hunter Biden was expected in federal court, the judge overseeing his case threatened his legal team with sanctions after she found that a staffer might have “misrepresented her identity” in communications with the court clerk.
The bizarre saga played out Tuesday on the court’s public docket, where Ted Kittila, an attorney for the GOP-led House Ways and Means Committee, shared Hunter Biden’s taxpayer information as part of an effort to intervene in the case.
Chris Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, asked Kittila to seal the information, and when Kittila refused, a member of the firm representing Hunter Biden reached out to the court seeking to have it removed from the docket.
Judge Maryellen Noreika wrote late Tuesday that, having “discussed the matter with the relevant individuals,” Jessica Bengels, an attorney with Clark’s firm, “represented that she worked with Mr. Kittila and requested the amicus materials be taken down.”
“It appears that the caller misrepresented her identity and who she worked for in an attempt to improperly convince the Clerk’s Office to remove the amicus materials from the docket,” Noreika wrote.
Noreika asked Hunter Biden’s legal team to explain why she should not level sanctions against them. In response, Matthew Salerno, an attorney for Biden, called it “an unfortunate and unintentional miscommunication,” dispelling Noreika’s suggestion that it might have been a nefarious ploy to have a docket entry suppressed.
“We have no idea how the misunderstanding occurred,” wrote Salerno. “But our understanding is there was no misrepresentation.”
Jul 26, 6:56 AM EDT
Republicans urge judge to block Hunter Biden plea deal
Republicans embarked on a long shot bid in the hours leading up to Hunter Biden’s expected arrival in court to press Judge Maryellen Noreika to consider denying his plea agreement until the court reviews testimony from a pair of IRS whistleblowers.
Those whistleblowers, according to an attorney for the GOP-led House Ways and Means Committee in court documents filed Tuesday, have said the younger Biden “appears to have benefitted from political interference which calls into question the propriety of the investigation.”
Experts said it would be exceedingly rare for the judge to deny a plea deal negotiated in good faith. But Theodore Kittila, the attorney for the House panel, wrote that the judge should “evaluate” the IRS whistleblowers’ remarks before ruling, claiming that “plea negotiations were tainted by improper conduct at various levels of government.”
The judge did not indicate whether she would consider Republicans’ arguments at Wednesday’s hearing.
Republican lawmakers have for weeks publicly decried Hunter Biden’s plea agreement as a “sweetheart deal” and called on the judge to either delay Wednesday’s hearing or reject it outright. Experts have told ABC News that both scenarios are unlikely.
Jul 26, 6:52 AM EDT
Judge will weigh Hunter Biden’s plea deal with DOJ
A federal judge will have the opportunity to either reject or accept the terms of the plea deal Hunter Biden struck with the Justice Department last month.
Judge Maryellen Noreika will preside over the younger Biden’s initial court appearance in the case, set to take place in a Delaware courtroom.
According to the plea agreement, Hunter Biden has agreed to acknowledge his failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2017 and 2018. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend probation, meaning he will likely avoid prison time.
He will also agree to a pretrial diversion on a separate gun charge, with the charge being dropped if he adheres to certain terms.
“I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life,” Christopher Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, said in a statement last month. “He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”
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