The special counsel investigating Hunter Biden charged the president’s son late Thursday on nine counts stemming from his failure to pay his federal taxes on time on millions in income from foreign businesses, the second indictment against him this year — and the latest development in a case Republicans have made the cornerstone of a possible impeachment of President Biden.
A grand jury in the Central District of California charged Mr. Biden with three counts each of evasion of a tax assessment, failure to file and pay taxes, and filing a false or fraudulent tax return, according to the 56-page indictment.
Mr. Biden “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019” wrote the special counsel, David C. Weiss, who first began investigating the president’s son five years ago as the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Delaware.
The charges come after Mr. Biden had appeared this summer to be on the verge of a plea deal that would not have led to jail time and in the view of his lawyer at the time would have granted him immunity for potential crimes stemming from his business dealings. But the deal collapsed at the last minute, and in September he was indicted on separate charges stemming from his failure to acknowledge his drug use when he purchased a handgun in 2018.
The new indictment also comes on the cusp of a vote by the Republican-led House to formalize its impeachment inquiry into President Biden, which is based almost entirely on unsubstantiated allegations that he benefited from his son’s lucrative consulting work for companies in Ukraine and China.
The decision to file criminal charges against the president’s troubled son was an extraordinary step for Mr. Weiss, who was named a special counsel in August by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland after the dramatic last-minute collapse of the plea deal that would have resolved the long-running investigation without Mr. Biden serving any prison time.
The Hunter Biden case sits at the crowded intersection of America’s colliding political and legal systems. There is now a very real prospect that President Biden’s son will be defending himself in two federal criminal trials during a presidential election year — as former President Donald J. Trump, his father’s likely opponent, confronts two possible trials in his federal documents and election interference cases.
Republican leaders in the House released draft text of a procedural impeachment resolution against President Biden on Thursday, just hours before word of the new charges started to percolate through official Washington. It is not clear what effect the indictment will have their inquiry.