In the unfolding saga surrounding Hunter Biden’s highly favorable plea deal, at least two prominent legal minds have demanded a more discerning examination of the proceedings before an agreement is accepted. They argue that this deal holds consequences beyond Hunter’s actions, resonating throughout the Justice Department and hinting at a need for procedural reform.
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” argued that the presiding judge in the plea deal case needs to summon Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney David Weiss, and six crucial witnesses identified by whistleblower Gary Shapley’s legal team. This, he maintains, is a prerequisite for the judge to evaluate the merits of the plea deal properly.
“The law provides that a judge need not accept a plea bargain agreed to by both sides if there is a problem here,”
— R R Souza (@RRSGold) June 28, 2023
“The judge who is sentencing Hunter Biden must call these six witnesses, and must say, look, Hunter Biden’s lawyers, we know you want the deal to go through. But I’m a judge, I represent the people of the United States of America,” Dershowitz stated emphatically.
His comments came on the heels of Former Director of National Intelligence and U.S. attorney John Ratcliffe’s critique of the handling of the plea deal. On Fox News’s “Sunday Night in America,” Ratcliffe called for a comprehensive evaluation of Hunter’s conduct before a plea deal should be approved.
Ratcliffe drew attention to the whistleblower’s claims of prosecution obstruction in the investigation, including a shutdown of queries into Hunter and Joe Biden. He underscored the importance of the judge’s role in scrutinizing all elements of the case, including the allegations surrounding the $5 million payment Hunter allegedly received from a Chinese businessman. Ratcliffe also put forth a thought-provoking comparison, noting the stark disparity in handling cases against Joe Biden’s son and President Donald Trump, his father’s top political rival.
Turning to the case’s overseer, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, her history of bipartisan donations and support from Democratic senators does raise questions about impartiality. Though nominated for her current position by President Trump, her connection to Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), co-chair of President Biden’s re-election campaign, may give some pause.
Under the current plea agreement, Hunter will admit to two misdemeanor counts of intentionally neglecting to pay his federal income taxes and agree to a pretrial diversion agreement for a felony count of illegal firearm possession. Notably, these crimes carry potential penalties of 12 months behind bars and up to 10 years in prison, respectively.
Prominent Republicans have already voiced dissatisfaction with the deal, labeling it a “slap on the wrist.” The case has attracted attention beyond its immediate circle, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) considering impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Merrick Garland over alleged Justice Department interference.
As Dershowitz and Ratcliffe have made abundantly clear, the case is not just about one individual’s actions but about the principles and integrity of our judicial system. It remains to be seen whether Judge Noreika will heed their advice and seek out all sides of the story before deciding whether to accept the proposed plea agreement.