White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre fielded questions from reporters on Friday about whether President Joe Biden would pardon his son, Hunter Biden, after he was slapped with nine new tax charges.
On Thursday, a California grand jury returned a nine-count indictment against Hunter Biden, charging him with three felony tax offenses and six misdemeanor tax offenses. The indictment alleges that the president’s son spent millions on a lavish lifestyle and drugs instead of fulfilling roughly $1.4 million in tax obligations.
If convicted on all counts, Hunter Biden could face a maximum penalty of 17 years in prison.
His attorney has called the charges politically motivated and, on Friday, the White House press secretary was asked by reporters to comment on the latest charges—and to reveal whether a presidential pardon is in the works.
‘Proud of His Son’
President Biden loves and supports his son as he faces a fresh round of criminal charges, according to the press secretary.
“The president has said this before, and he will continue to say, which is that he loves his son and supports him as he continues to rebuild his life,” Ms. Jean-Pierre told reporters while on board Air Force One. “He’s proud of his son.”
A reporter then asked whether a presidential pardon was in the works for Hunter Biden.
“You’ve said before that the president would not pardon his son. Is that still the case?” the reporter asked.
“Nothing has changed. That is still the case,” Ms. Jean-Pierre replied.
While leaving the White House on Friday, President Biden was asked by reporters whether he had spoken to his son after the new charges were revealed and whether he had any comment. The president ignored reporters’ questions and walked away.
Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s attorney, said that the latest charges—as well as the prior ones—were driven by political rather than substantive factors.
“Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought,” Mr. Lowell said.
For his part, Hunter Biden has accused Republicans of “weaponizing” his mistakes and struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.
Republicans, meanwhile, have been investigating President Biden for allegedly profiting off his family’s business dealings, in particular those of Hunter Biden.
While the president has denied wrongdoing, a recent poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that President Biden acted either illegally or unethically in how he handled his son’s international business affairs.
The House Oversight Committee has released more than 20 examples of evidence tying President Biden to his son’s business affairs.
New Charges Against Hunter Biden
On Thursday, special counsel David Weiss announced the latest indictment against Hunter Biden, which alleges that he failed to fulfill his tax obligations between 2016 and 2019.
Instead of paying his taxes, Hunter Biden “spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes,” per the indictment.
The charges include three counts of failure to pay taxes for the years 2016, 2017, and 2019, and three counts of failure to file tax returns for the years 2017 and 2018.
“The Defendant spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle at the same time he chose not to pay his taxes,” reads the indictment.
Additionally, Hunter Biden faces charges of tax evasion, filing a false return, and filing a false return for his company, Owasco PC, for the tax year 2018.
His alleged actions involved a deliberate effort to avoid paying taxes, including subverting his own company’s payroll and tax withholding process by withdrawing millions outside of the established procedures, according to the indictment.
The latest indictment comes after a plea deal that Hunter Biden entered into with prosecutors fell apart over the summer after a judge objected to some of the terms.
Gun Charges and Plea Deal
Earlier this year, Hunter Biden was charged with several felony counts in connection with allegations he made false statements to a gun dealer and possessed a firearm while using drugs.
A conviction on those charges could land him behind bars for as long as 25 years.
However, Hunter Biden agreed with prosecutors to enter a so-called diversion agreement for the gun charges, which would have averted a criminal trial and allowed him to avoid prison time in exchange for certain conditions.
Republicans objected to what they described as a sweetheart deal, which ultimately fell apart in court.
In an unusual twist, Hunter Biden’s attorney suggested that the diversion agreement’s terms were still in effect, in line with earlier court filings by the defense team.
However, the special counsel, Mr. Weiss, said in a separate filing that because the agreement never went into effect, “none of its terms are binding on either party.”
Democrats, meanwhile, have lamented that Hunter Biden’s indictment could be politically damaging to his father, President Biden.