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Hunter Biden's tax trial set for September as judge agrees to delay, with gun trial still in June

Hunter Biden walks to board Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport, March 29, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) Hunter Biden walks to board Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport, March 29, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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Hunter Biden is scheduled to stand trial on federal tax charges in September after a judge on Wednesday granted his request to delay the California trial that had been approaching next month.

U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi agreed during a hearing to push the case to September 5 after defense lawyers said they need more time to prepare with Hunter Biden also facing a separate trial on federal gun charges beginning June 3 in Delaware.

He has pleaded not guilty to both indictments, which his lawyers have claimed are politically motivated. Both cases are being overseen by judges nominated by then-President Donald Trump, a Republican who is running to unseat the Democratic president in November.

The trials will add to an already acrimonious presidential election as Trump's allies again seize on embarrassing details from the younger Biden's troubled life to attack his father, even as Trump faces his own legal problems. Trump is charged in four criminal cases, including a hush money trial underway in New York.

Hunter Biden's lawyers, who have pushed for dismissals and delays in both cases, say they have been struggling to line up expert witnesses to testify in the high-profile trial.

Prosecutors pushed back on the delay request, describing it as a straightforward tax case. Prosecutor Leo Wise told the judge: "The time to try this case is now."

"He is not above the rule of law and should be treated like any other defendant," Justice Department special counsel David Weiss' team wrote in a recent court filing.

Hunter Biden was not required to attend the hearing in Los Angeles federal court and did not do so. The judge cautioned his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, that this would be the only delay in the case, barring an order from a higher court.

Prosecutors say they have lined up roughly 30 witnesses to testify in the case alleging he failed to pay at least US$1.4 million in taxes over four years while living an "extravagant lifestyle" during a period in which he has acknowledged struggling with addiction. The back taxes have since been paid.

In the gun case, prosecutors allege that Biden lied about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a firearm that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. He has acknowledged an addiction to crack cocaine during that period, but his lawyers have said he didn't break the law.

Prosecutors plan to show jurors in the gun case portions of his 2021 memoir "Beautiful Things," in which he detailed his struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse following the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer at age 46.

Hunter Biden's lawyers have pushed unsuccessfully in both cases to have them dismissed. They have argued, among other things, that prosecutors bowed to political pressure to indict him after a plea agreement hit the skids in court and was publicly pilloried by Republicans, including Trump, as a "sweetheart deal."

The long-running federal investigation into the president's son had looked ready to wrap up with a plea deal last year, but the agreement imploded after a judge raised questions about it. Hunter Biden was subsequently indicted.

Under the deal, he would have gotten two years of probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanour tax charges. He also would have avoided prosecution on the gun charge if he stayed out of trouble.

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