Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, pleaded not guilty to tax charges on Wednesday after a federal judge in Delaware rejected a proposed plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid a felony gun charge.
The stunning turnabout came after what was expected to be a routine plea hearing turned into a three-hour affair featuring hushed negotiations between lawyers and pointed questions from U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika.
Noreika said she needed more time to review the plea deal, which would have required Hunter Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and pay a fine. She also said she was concerned about the potential for the deal to be seen as preferential treatment for the president’s son.
As a result, Hunter Biden will now go to trial on the tax charges, as well as a separate charge of unlawfully owning a firearm while addicted to and using a controlled substance.
The charges against Hunter Biden stem from his failure to pay taxes on more than $1.5 million in income in 2017 and 2018. He is also accused of possessing a gun while addicted to drugs.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers have said that he is innocent of the charges and that he will be vindicated at trial.
The case has been a source of controversy since it was first announced in 2019. Republicans have accused Hunter Biden of using his father’s political position to enrich himself, while Democrats have said that the charges are politically motivated.
The rejection of the plea deal is a setback for Hunter Biden, but it is not necessarily a sign that he will be found guilty at trial. The case is still in its early stages, and it is possible that the charges against him will be dropped or that he will be acquitted.
The case is likely to continue to be a source of scrutiny for the Biden administration, as it could be used by Republicans to attack the president. However, it is also possible that the case will fade from the headlines if Hunter Biden is acquitted or the charges are dropped.