GOP Demands Garland Explain Hunter’s ‘Not Standard’ Plea Deal

GOP Demands Garland Explain Hunter’s ‘Not Standard’ Plea Deal

August 2, 2023

The House Committees on Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Oversight issued a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding he provide answers as to why the Justice Department (DOJ) agreed to a plea deal with Hunter Biden that was “not standard” and “different” from what the judge normally sees.

Hunter Biden pled not guilty last Wednesday to gun and tax charges, refusing to accept a new plea deal laid out by prosecutors after negotiations fell apart due to questioning by Judge Maryellen Noreika about the “diversion agreement.”

A diversion agreement is a deal between a defendant and a prosecutor whereby the prosecutor agrees to forego the prosecution of the crime in return for some penalty received by the defendant.

In Hunter Biden’s case, “DOJ and Hunter’s lawyers effectively hid that part of the agreement in what was publicly described as a pretrial diversion agreement relating to a § 922(g)(3) gun charge against Hunter for being a drug user in possession of a firearm,” former Federal Prosecutor Will Scharf stated. “That pretrial diversion agreement as written was actually MUCH broader than just the gun charge,” protecting Hunter Biden from any potential future charges related to an ongoing case, such as failing to register as a foreign agent.

The committees’ letter summarized the concern:

In short, the Department shifted a broad immunity provision, which benefits Mr. Biden, from the plea agreement to the pretrial diversion agreement apparently to prevent the District Court from being able to scrutinize and reject that immunity provision. And then, the Department has benefitted Mr. Biden by giving up its unilateral ability to bring charges against him if it concludes that he has breached the pretrial diversion agreement. Instead, it has placed upon itself the burden of getting the District Court’s permission to bring charges even though the District Court normally has no role in policing a pretrial diversion agreement in that manner. So, the District Court is apparently removed from the equation when it helps Mr. Biden and inserted into the equation when it helps Mr. Biden.

The Committees are also concerned that, contrary to its representations to the Judiciary Committee, the Department may be claiming that other investigations into Mr. Biden are ongoing to shield the Department from Congressional oversight about this matter. In that regard, it was notable that Mr. Biden’s counsel stated at the hearing that it was his understanding that the immunity provision in the pretrial diversion agreement would preclude the Department from bringing charges against Mr. Biden under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. While the Department did not agree with that position, it is difficult to understand how the parties would not have a meeting of the minds regarding a clause of the agreement as fundamental as the scope of the immunity provision, and it raises questions about what discussions have taken place between the Department and Mr. Biden’s counsel regarding the status of those investigations.

The lawmakers’ questions to Garland included:

How many times in the last ten years has the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware shaped a diversion agreement like Hunter Biden’s?
How many times in the last ten years has any unit of the DOJ included, in a diversion agreement, a plea deal to not prosecute crimes unrelated to the charges being diverted?
Was the diversion agreement Hunter Biden or U.S. Prosecutor David Weiss’s idea?

The lawmakers demanded Garland reply by 5:00 p.m. on August 14, 2023.

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