Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, entered a plea of not guilty to tax evasion charges in a federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday. The 53-year-old businessman, currently in recovery from past drug addiction, faces increased legal scrutiny, adding pressure to his father as he heads toward a contentious reelection battle against Donald Trump.
Charged with nine counts related to tax crimes, Hunter Biden has become a constant target for Republicans who use the case to allege, without evidence, a “Criminal Biden Family.”
A day before his court appearance in Los Angeles, Hunter Biden unexpectedly appeared at the Capitol in Washington, where two Republican-dominated committees were discussing contempt measures against him for refusing to testify behind closed doors last month regarding his business dealings.
The charges, issued on December 7, claim that funds meant for the government were misappropriated for an “extravagant lifestyle.” Between 2016 and October 2020, the indictment alleges that Hunter Biden spent the money on drugs, companions, luxury hotels, exotic cars, clothing, and other personal items, neglecting his tax obligations.
During the court appearance, the judge informed Biden of the criminal charges, to which he responded with a “not guilty” plea. The hearing lasted approximately half an hour, and Biden will remain free throughout the legal process, with the next hearing scheduled for March 27 and the trial expected to commence on June 20.
If convicted on all charges, Hunter Biden could face up to 17 years in prison, with three of the charges considered serious offenses. He also faces another accusation in Delaware related to federal charges concerning drug users’ firearm possession.
Last year, a plea deal attempting to negotiate his legal situation collapsed amid criticism, with claims that a reduced sentence indicated preferential treatment due to being the president’s son.
Hunter Biden has become a focal point for Republicans seeking to attack Joe Biden in the lead-up to the November presidential elections, launching investigations without evidence to challenge the president’s integrity regarding his son’s international dealings.
Responding to the attacks, the first lady, Jill Biden, criticized the Republicans on Thursday, describing their actions against Hunter as “cruel” and expressing pride in his recovery journey from addiction.