US prosecutors to seek Hunter Biden indictment by Sept. 29 -court filing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. prosecutors said in a court filing on Wednesday they will seek an indictment of President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, by Sept. 29 in his tax and firearms case.

David Weiss, who was appointed U.S. special counsel by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in August, said in a court filing that the government would seek a grand jury indictment before the Sept. 29 deadline under the Speedy Trial Act.

"The government intends to seek the return of an indictment in this case before that date," Weiss wrote in a status report to U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika.

In July, Noreika rejected a proposed plea deal that would have resolved the tax and gun charges, raising concerns over its legality and the scope of immunity it offered Hunter Biden.

Hunter Biden's lawyers said in court filings last month that prosecutors reneged on a plea deal that would have resolved the charges, raising the possibility of a criminal trial as the 2024 presidential election approaches.

Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell expressed his belief on Wednesday that the deal was still in effect.

“We believe the signed and filed diversion agreement remains valid and prevents any additional charges from being filed against Mr. Biden, who has been abiding by the conditions of release under that agreement for the last several weeks," including regular probation office visits, Lowell said in a statement released by a spokesperson.

"We expect a fair resolution of the sprawling, 5-year investigation into Mr. Biden that was based on the evidence and the law, not outside political pressure, and we’ll do what is necessary on behalf of Mr. Biden to achieve that,” he said.

Under the proposed plea arrangement, Hunter Biden would have pleaded guilty to not paying taxes on $1.5 million in income between 2017 and 2018 and entered into a separate deferred prosecution agreement for illegally owning a firearm while using drugs, a felony.

The case has become a political lightning rod. Republicans in Congress have raised the possibility of impeaching President Biden over his son's business dealings and accuse the Department of Justice of giving him a "sweetheart deal."

Garland has denied Republican accusations of favoritism and elevated Weiss from U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware who has been investigating the case since 2019. As special counsel, Weiss, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, has additional authority.

If the case goes to trial, the president would be campaigning for reelection in November 2024, likely against former president Donald Trump, as his son faces criminal prosecution.

Trump, a Republican, faces at least three criminal trials of his own next year.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh, Eric Beech, Tom Hals and Jeff Mason; editing by Rami Ayyub and David Gregorio)