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President Biden's son Hunter faces a second federal indictment

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Hunter Biden is facing new criminal charges. The president's son was indicted last night.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Justice Department's special counsel, David Weiss, brought this case, part of his investigation into Hunter Biden and his business activities. This second indictment of Joe Biden's son comes in December, just before an election year.

MARTIN: NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas is covering this and is with us now to tell us more. Good morning, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: What specific charges is Hunter Biden facing with this indictment?

LUCAS: Well, this is a nine-count indictment. It was handed up by a federal grand jury in the Central District of California. The charges are related to tax years 2016 through 2019. Three of the counts that Hunter Biden is facing here are felony tax counts, one for tax evasion, two for filing a false return. The other six counts are misdemeanors, and those are for failing to pay his taxes and failing to file his taxes.

MARTIN: OK, so this all relates to the 2016 through the 2019 time period. What does the special counsel say that Hunter Biden was doing?

LUCAS: Well, prosecutors say that over four years, Hunter engaged in a scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in taxes that he owed. It also says that he evaded paying taxes for 2018. Now, the indictment says that between 2016 and 2020, Hunter made more than $7 million in total gross income. The indictment references business dealings in Ukraine, business dealings related to connections in Romania and China. It says that Hunter got another $1.2 million in financial support. But prosecutors say that Hunter spent his money on drugs, on escorts and girlfriends, on luxury hotels, exotic cars, among other things. Prosecutors say, in short, that Hunter Biden spent his money on his extravagant lifestyle, not on his taxes.

MARTIN: And so I guess they're saying that he willfully didn't pay his taxes...

LUCAS: That's right.

MARTIN: ...Although he had the money to - OK. So this is the second set of charges the special counsel has brought against Hunter Biden. Can you just remind us about the others?

LUCAS: Right. He was indicted this summer on federal gun charges as part of the special counsel's investigation. Those charges came about after a tentative plea deal that Biden had agreed to in Delaware fell apart. He had agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges there. That whole deal unraveled. He was later charged on the gun counts. He's pleaded not guilty to those. After that deal fell apart, we knew that there was a possibility that he would get hit with federal tax charges. And of course, he now has.

MARTIN: Has there been any response from Hunter Biden or his attorneys to this new indictment?

LUCAS: Right. His attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement last night that if Hunter's name was anything other than Biden, that none of these charges - not the gun charges or the new tax charges - would have been brought against him. Lowell accused the special counsel of, in essence, folding under Republican pressure to go after Hunter, and he said that Weiss had investigated all of this for five years without bringing charges. And now, with no new evidence, he's brought these nine charges after agreeing a few months ago to resolve all of this with misdemeanors in that plea deal that ultimately collapsed. He also said that Hunter Biden paid his taxes in full two years ago.

MARTIN: Seems remarkable that the president's son is now facing two federal indictments, but also the Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential campaign.

LUCAS: And not to forget that House Republicans have made Hunter a focus of their impeachment inquiry into President Biden as well. But yes, as you said, the situation is extraordinary. Two federal indictments that Trump is facing, of course, are for trying to overturn the 2020 election results, for mishandling classified documents. Hunter's, as we've said, are for gun and tax charges. But what we have now is the possibility of these cases all grinding through the justice system in the middle of the 2024 presidential campaign.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Ryan Lucas. Ryan, thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.
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