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Hunter Biden live updates: No plea as judge refuses to ‘rubber-stamp’ deal

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden is appearing in a Delaware courthouse Wednesday to formally agree to the plea deal he negotiated last month with federal prosecutors, in what could bring a close to the Justice Department’s yearslong probe into the younger Biden’s business affairs.


Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 26, 6:02 PM EDT
Attorneys have 30 days to submit briefs

No date has been set for a follow-up hearing after the judge deferred a decision on the plea deal at today’s hearing.

The judge gave both parties 30 days to submit briefs meant to assuage the concerns she so thoroughly expressed in court, after attorneys for both parties, toward the end of the proceeding, agreed to hash out some of the judge’s concerns.

A spokesperson for Hunter Biden’s legal team says they do not plan to comment on Wednesday’s hearing.

Jul 26, 4:08 PM EDT
McCarthy, more lawmakers weigh in on Hunter Biden

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reacted Wednesday to Hunter Biden’s plea dealing being deferred for the time being.

He reiterated his allegation that the president’s son has received different treatment from prosecutors, which the Department of Justice has pushed back on.

“There shouldn’t be two justice systems in America, and hopefully today that’s what is being done,” McCarthy said.

“So now is the window to show that we have equal justice, and that’s the real question … is it going to be fair as you treat every other American? That will be the question,” McCarthy said as he left the House floor.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said Wednesday that he hoped Hunter Biden will “acknowledge his responsibility for the proceeding” and that the outcome will be “fair and just.”

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin and Lauren Peller

Jul 26, 4:01 PM EDT
White House comments on deferred plea deal

At the top of her briefing on Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented on “the news in Delaware today,” as she called it, emphasizing that “Hunter Biden is a private citizen … this was a personal matter for him,” and saying the case was handled by a prosecutor appointed by former President Trump.

“As we have said, the president, the first lady, they love their son and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life,” Jean-Pierre said. “This case was handled independently, as all of you know, by the Justice Department.”

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

Jul 26, 2:39 PM EDT
Judge said she wouldn’t ‘rubber-stamp’ the deal

Judge Noreika scrutinized nearly every facet of the plea deal before deciding to defer the agreement so the parties could reconvene at a later date.

The hearing was punctuated by multiple recesses, during which lawyers scrambled to negotiate their way out of the deal’s divergent perspectives.

A visibly agitated Hunter Biden spent much of the time shifting between sitting and standing, summoning members of his legal team to discuss developments. Across the room, U.S. Attorney David Weiss appeared to share his demeanor.

Toward the end of the hearing, Noreika herself lashed out, repeatedly saying she felt as though she was being asked to “rubber-stamp” the deal.

In the end, she did not.

Jul 26, 1:47 PM EDT
Judge defers plea deal

U.S. Judge Maryellen Noreika deferred the plea deal negotiated by Hunter Biden’s attorneys and federal prosecutors after a contentious hearing, taking issue with the structure of the arrangement and lamenting on multiple occasions the deal’s “form over substance.”

In the interim, Hunter Biden entered a not guilty plea. Noreika requested additional briefings from the parties in the coming weeks before determining next steps.

“I’m not going to say I’m going to accept the agreement, I’m not going to say I’ll deny it,” she said.

The three-hour hearing featured several turbulent interludes. Noreika’s line of questioning about an immunity agreement exposed fissures between the two parties, with the discussion culminating in prosecutors threatening to bring foreign agent charges, prompting Chris Clark, an attorney for Biden, to say: “As far as I’m concerned, the plea agreement is null and void.”

The parties moved past those disagreements, with both sides stressing their desire to move forward. But Noreika asked the parties to consult and brief her in the coming weeks.

In the understatement of the day, Noreika acknowledged that her probing threw “a little bit of a curveball” into the proceeding.

Jul 26, 1:36 PM EDT
Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to charges after deal falls apart

In a dramatic scene in court, the plea deal struck by Hunter Biden fell apart amid the judge’s concerns over the terms of the agreement.

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika had raised concerns about the parties linking the tax plea agreement to the deal on the gun charge, and over whether or not a provision in the deal would grant Hunter Biden blanket immunity, meaning that the government would not prosecute him further.

Jul 26, 1:27 PM EDT
No plea deal amid judge’s concerns

There is no plea deal in the Hunter Biden case.

Jul 26, 11:59 AM EDT
Plea deal is in jeopardy of falling apart

A deal between federal prosecutors and Hunter Biden is in jeopardy of falling apart.

There is now a brief recess as the parties try to come to terms.

Jul 26, 10:25 AM EDT
Hunter Biden arrives at courthouse

Hunter Biden has arrived at the federal court in Delaware for this morning’s hearing.

The younger Biden and his legal team arrived shortly before 9:30 a.m.

Jul 26, 7:20 AM EDT
Hunter Biden’s legal team threatened with sanctions

Less than 24 hours before Hunter Biden was expected in federal court, the judge overseeing his case threatened his legal team with sanctions after she found that a staffer might have “misrepresented her identity” in communications with the court clerk.

The bizarre saga played out Tuesday on the court’s public docket, where Ted Kittila, an attorney for the GOP-led House Ways and Means Committee, shared Hunter Biden’s taxpayer information as part of an effort to intervene in the case.

Chris Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, asked Kittila to seal the information, and when Kittila refused, a member of the firm representing Hunter Biden reached out to the court seeking to have it removed from the docket.

Judge Maryellen Noreika wrote late Tuesday that, having “discussed the matter with the relevant individuals,” Jessica Bengels, an attorney with Clark’s firm, “represented that she worked with Mr. Kittila and requested the amicus materials be taken down.”

“It appears that the caller misrepresented her identity and who she worked for in an attempt to improperly convince the Clerk’s Office to remove the amicus materials from the docket,” Noreika wrote.

Noreika asked Hunter Biden’s legal team to explain why she should not level sanctions against them. In response, Matthew Salerno, an attorney for Biden, called it “an unfortunate and unintentional miscommunication,” dispelling Noreika’s suggestion that it might have been a nefarious ploy to have a docket entry suppressed.

“We have no idea how the misunderstanding occurred,” wrote Salerno. “But our understanding is there was no misrepresentation.”

Jul 26, 6:56 AM EDT
Republicans urge judge to block Hunter Biden plea deal

Republicans embarked on a long shot bid in the hours leading up to Hunter Biden’s expected arrival in court to press Judge Maryellen Noreika to consider denying his plea agreement until the court reviews testimony from a pair of IRS whistleblowers.

Those whistleblowers, according to an attorney for the GOP-led House Ways and Means Committee in court documents filed Tuesday, have said the younger Biden “appears to have benefitted from political interference which calls into question the propriety of the investigation.”

Experts said it would be exceedingly rare for the judge to deny a plea deal negotiated in good faith. But Theodore Kittila, the attorney for the House panel, wrote that the judge should “evaluate” the IRS whistleblowers’ remarks before ruling, claiming that “plea negotiations were tainted by improper conduct at various levels of government.”

The judge did not indicate whether she would consider Republicans’ arguments at Wednesday’s hearing.

Republican lawmakers have for weeks publicly decried Hunter Biden’s plea agreement as a “sweetheart deal” and called on the judge to either delay Wednesday’s hearing or reject it outright. Experts have told ABC News that both scenarios are unlikely.

Jul 26, 6:52 AM EDT
Judge will weigh Hunter Biden’s plea deal with DOJ

A federal judge will have the opportunity to either reject or accept the terms of the plea deal Hunter Biden struck with the Justice Department last month.

Judge Maryellen Noreika will preside over the younger Biden’s initial court appearance in the case, set to take place in a Delaware courtroom.

According to the plea agreement, Hunter Biden has agreed to acknowledge his failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2017 and 2018. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend probation, meaning he will likely avoid prison time.

He will also agree to a pretrial diversion on a separate gun charge, with the charge being dropped if he adheres to certain terms.

“I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life,” Christopher Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, said in a statement last month. “He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward.”

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