Hunter Biden pleads not guilty at arraignment on tax charges

LOS ANGELES — Hunter Biden, the last surviving son of President Joe Biden, pleaded not guilty to nine tax-related charges at his arraignment in federal court Thursday.

Hunter Biden made his appearance in Los Angeles before U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi, who was appointed by Donald Trump; the former president appeared in court himself this week in connection with the criminal charges against him for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Biden’s hearing lasted about 30 minutes, with Scarsi noting that Biden had complied with his previous conditions of release and that the court “appreciates that and notes it for the record.” Scarsi proposed a potential trial date of June 20, just a few months before the 2024 presidential general election.

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Biden was arraigned just over a month after he was indicted in the Central District of California on allegations that he failed to pay his taxes. Prosecutors alleged that Biden, who has spoken extensively about his addiction, “spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature” from 2016 through October 2020.

The indictment was brought by David Weiss, who was appointed as U.S. attorney for Delaware by Trump and was named special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in August. He was appointed after a plea deal for Biden fell apart in July in a federal courthouse in Delaware after a judge raised questions about two separate plea deals: one involving tax charges and the other a rarely used gun charge that makes it unlawful for an “unlawful user” of “any controlled substance” to possess a firearm, a charge that could be used against millions of Americans who both own a gun and use marijuana, for example. That charge, which federal authorities have used as a catch-all charge against domestic extremists, faces court challenges.

On Wednesday, Biden made a surprise appearance at a circus-like hearing on the day Republicans formally recommended that the House hold him in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for testimony. Biden has said he would testify publicly, but House Republicans have demanded that he testify behind closed doors.

Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Biden, called the request for a closed-door deposition “a tactic that the Republicans have repeatedly misused in their political crusade to selectively leak and mischaracterize what witnesses have said.”

Ryan J Reilly reported from Washington. Daniel Barnes and Alicia Victoria Lozano reported from Los Angeles.