Washington — Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, has been charged with nine federal tax crimes, according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday in the Central District of California.
The indictment charges him with failure to file and pay taxes, evasion of assessment and filing a false or fraudulent tax return.
Federal prosecutors allege in the indictment that Hunter Biden engaged in “a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million” in federal income taxes for the years 2016 through 2019. According to the indictment, between 2016 and Oct. 15, 2020, Hunter Biden made over $7 million in total gross income.
The special counsel wrote that the president’s son spent millions on “an extravagant lifestyle” — including drugs, escorts and exotic cars — instead of paying his tax bills and in 2018, he stopped paying outstanding and overdue taxes for the tax year 2015.
The special counsel alleges that once Hunter Biden did file his 2018 tax return, it included “false business deductions” in an apparent effort to reduce his tax liabilities.
Hunter Biden’s legal team has not responded to a request for comment. The White House declined to respond and referred CBS News to Hunter Biden’s legal team.
The indictment secured by special counsel David Weiss was the second from his office, after prosecutors firstagainst the president’s son in Delaware in September that stemmed from his alleged possession of a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver in October 2018, which prosecutors previously said he unlawfully possessed for 11 days. Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Weiss, who was appointed U.S. attorney for Delaware by former President Donald Trump and kept on by the Biden administration to continue the Hunter Biden investigation, wasearlier this year by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
This latest indictment in California, Hunter Biden’s state of legal residence, comes as House Republicans pursue an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden. Hunter Biden’s personal finances and business ventures have been a focal point for the GOP-led congressional investigations probing whether Mr. Biden personally benefited from his family’s businesses and whether senior officials took any steps to obstruct or disrupt criminal investigations into the president’s son.
The indictments follow the collapse of a plea agreement between the government and Hunter Biden’s attorneys over taxes and diversion agreement on a firearms charge. In a court hearing that was meant to seal the deal, a federal judge questioned provisions that would have allowed Hunter Biden to avoid prison time on future charges, as well as the tax offenses. The deal fell apart in court, and Hunter Biden ultimately pleaded not guilty to the three felony charges.
The charges mark a turning point in the years-long probe into the president’s son, as congressional Republicanswith a vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry against Mr. Biden. If the resolution passes, it would give GOP-led committees more firepower to look into his family’s business dealings as they search for evidence of wrongdoing.
Republicans want to interview a number of people in the president’s orbit as part of the impeachment probe in the coming months, including Hunter Biden, who has been subpoenaed for a deposition before the House Oversight Committee next week. The committeefor Hunter Biden’s personal business records in September.
The special counsel last month voluntarily appeared before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee before submitting his special counsel report — an unusual move during an ongoing investigation — to “address misunderstandings about the scope of my authority” in the Hunter Biden probe.
He agreed to the closed-door testimony after IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, case agents previously assigned to the Hunter Biden investigation, told lawmakers that they recommended federal felony and misdemeanor charges be brought against Hunter Biden for tax violations but were told Weiss was “not the deciding person” to bring charges in the case. They alleged intentional slow-walking and “an undeniable pattern of preferential treatment” in the federal investigation.
“There were really earth-shaking statements made by David Weiss,” Shapley said in an exclusive interview with CBS News earlier this year. “And the first one was that he is not the deciding person on whether or not charges are filed,” the whistleblower added. “It was just shocking to me.”
Weiss has repeatedly refuted Shapley’s claims and told Congress that before being named special counsel, Justice Department officials assured him he would have the necessary authority to pursue criminal charges against the president’s son in any district he deemed necessary, but he ultimately did not seek or receive final authorization, according to a transcript of Weiss’ testimony reviewed by CBS News.
He was elevated to special counsel in August by Garland after telling him that his investigation had reached a stage where he believed his work required that designation. Garland said he concluded it was “in the public interest” to appoint Weiss as special counsel given the “extraordinary circumstances” of the case.
Earlier this week, Weiss’ office opposed a move by Hunter Biden’s legal team to subpoena Trump, former Attorney General William Barr and other former Justice Department officials for documents and materials that his legal counsel alleges were part of a partisan pressure campaign to pursue the investigation.
In the court filing, attorneys for the president’s son argued communications between Trump and former Justice Department officials during his presidency reveal “more than a mere appearance that President Trump improperly and unrelentingly pressured DOJ to pursue an investigation and prosecution of Mr. Biden to advance President Trump’s partisan ambitions.”
Weiss’ team, however, pushed back, writing this week, “No charges were brought against defendant during the prior administration when the subpoena recipients actually held office in the Executive Branch.”
Nancy Cordes and Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.