For weeks, the public has been led to believe that Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea agreement just needed the nod, wink, and blessing of the presiding judge, but in the last 48 hours, that outcome fell flat in court on Wednesday and with an even more bizarre twist the day before on Tuesday.
On Tuesday afternoon U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika threatened to sanction Hunter Biden’s legal team because one of them called the court’s clerk office and allegedly misrepresented their legal association.
Judge Norma wrote a brief order Tuesday afternoon and claimed that the Latham & Watkins attorney had called the clerk’s office and falsely claimed to work for a Republican lawyer in the hopes of persuading the clerk to remove documents filed in the docket that apparently contained Biden’s personal tax information.
Latham denied the claim and disagreed with the judge factually. Latham claimed that their lawyer identified herself as a Latham staffer. Latham & Watkins said there must have been an “unfortunate and unintentional miscommunication” between the employee and court staff.
The documents that Latham & Watkins wanted removed had been submitted earlier in the the day as part of an amicus brief by House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.). Smith had complained that Hunter Biden’s plea deal on gun and tax charges was too lenient, and that federal prosecutors’ investigation of Biden was soiled by political interference mirroring the testimony of the two IRS whistleblowers who testified to such under oath before the committee.
Hunter Biden has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and enter a pretrial diversion program in order to avoid being prosecuted for a felony gun charge.
Smith’s amicus brief was signed and submitted to the court by Theodore Kittila, the managing partner of the Wilmington law firm Halloran Farkas + Kittila.
After the brief was filed, the clerk’s office informed Judge Noreika that Jessica Bengels, who worked at Latham & Watkins, had called the clerk and claimed to work at Kittila. Bengels allegedly asked that Smith’s filing be removed from the public docket due to sensitive information in it, Judge Noreika wrote in her order.
“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, before ordering Biden’s legal team to explain why Noreika should not issue formal sanctions “for misrepresentations to the Court.”
Latham lawyers representing Biden said in a court filing Tuesday night that Bengels never misrepresented herself.
“The matter under consideration appears to stem from an unfortunate and unintentional miscommunication between a staff member at our firm and employees of the Court. We have no idea how the misunderstanding occurred, but our understanding is there was no misrepresentation,” Latham partner Matthew Salerno wrote.
Bengels is not part of the Hunter Biden’s official legal team in this case. .
Bengels also submitted a declaration to the court.
“I am completely confident that I never indicated that I was calling from Mr. Kittila’s firm or that I worked with him in any way,” wrote Bengels.
Kittila claimed that all the information about Hunter Biden contained in Smith’s brief was public on the House Ways and Means Committee website.
But Christopher Clark, Biden’s lead attorney, argued that was beside the point if court rules forbid putting it on the public docket.
“Most troubling is that you have sought to append to a filing on the public docket hundreds of pages of documents, many of which contain grand jury secret information and confidential taxpayer information,” Clark wrote in a letter to Kittila also contained in the court docket. “We have alerted you to this issue and you have refused to file these materials under seal, frivolously claiming that because a congressional committee has improperly disseminated these materials, they no longer need protection. Your position is baseless and abusive.”
Hunter Biden’s plea agreement details called for Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax offenses for failing to pay or file his federal taxes over a two-year period and to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement on a felony charge of possessing a firearm while being a drug user.
On Wednesday, the plea agreement became unraveled after Biden’s lawyers asked for a broad immunity. Judge Noreika asked Biden’s attorneys if the investigation into Hunter Biden was still ongoing and open. When the prosecutor told the court that the investigation is still open and ongoing, the judge stalled the approval of the plea agreement.
If the plea agreement had been approved, it was expected that Hunter Biden would receive probation on the tax charges and no punishment on the gun charges with specific stipulations. Biden would have been subjected to random drug tests, and prohibited to own a gun.
With the investigation still open, and Devon Archer, Hunter’s former business partner, expected to testify before the House Way and Means Committee next week, who knows what that testimony will reveal.
Earlier in the week, Miranda Devine at the New York Post reported that Archer is expected to attest to that Hunter Biden often had his Father on the phone with some of his foreign business partners while Joe Biden was Vice-President.
In court, the issue of FARA violations was raised. That is the formal requirement of registering with the Department of Justice when representing a foreign government.
That now leads to whether Hunter Biden and his partners actually parlayed cash for foreign lobbying of the U.S.., and whether they actually lobbied then Vice-President Joe Biden for their clients.
Biden’s lawyers and the prosecutors may continue to work on a plea agreement, but in the meantime, Hunter Biden today walked into the court and pled guilty and walked out without a plea agreement and pleaded non-guilty to his charges by the time the court concluded its hearings.
Not exactly, a good day for Hunter Biden and the resolution of the federal investigation.
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