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Hunter Biden’s tax case heads to a California courtroom as his defense seeks to have it tossed out

LOS ANGELES — Lawyers for Hunter Biden are expected in court in Los Angeles on Wednesday, where he is accused of what prosecutors call a four-year scheme to avoid paying $1.4 million in taxes while living an extravagant lifestyle.

President Joe Biden’s son has pleaded not guilty to nine tax crimes. He asks the judge to dismiss the case, arguing that the prosecution was politically motivated, tainted by leaks from IRS agents who publicly alleged the case was mishandled and contains some allegations from before he moved to California.

He has also been charged in Delaware with lying on a federal form to buy a gun in 2018 by saying he was not using or addicted to illegal drugs, even though he has admitted to being addicted to crack cocaine at the time. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, in which he is also accused of illegal possession of the weapon.

Both cases are being overseen by special counsel David Weiss and preliminary trials are now scheduled for June, although attorneys are also trying to have the gun charges dropped in Delaware.

The two sets of charges stem from a yearslong federal investigation that was expected to conclude in the summer with a plea deal that would have given Hunter Biden two years of probation after pleading guilty to tax charges. He also would have avoided prosecution on gun charges if he had stayed out of trouble.

Defense attorneys argue that the immunity provisions in the deal were signed by a prosecutor and are still in effect, although prosecutors disagree.

But the deal that could have spared Hunter Biden the spectacle of a criminal trial during the 2024 presidential campaign fell apart after a federal judge began questioning it. Now the tax and gun cases are moving forward as part of an unprecedented confluence of political and legal drama: As the November election approaches, the Justice Department is actively prosecuting both the Democratic president’s son and the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Hunter Biden’s original proposed plea deal with prosecutors had been pilloried by Republicans, including Trump, as a “cute deal.” The former president is facing his own criminal problems — 91 charges in four cases, including that he plotted to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election, which he lost to Joe Biden.

Hunter Biden’s criminal proceedings also parallel so-far failed attempts by Republicans in Congress to link his business activities to his father. Republicans are pursuing an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, alleging he was involved in an influence-peddling scheme with his son. No evidence has emerged that Joe Biden, as president or previously as vice president, abused his role or accepted bribes, although questions have been raised about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business dealings.

In launching their impeachment inquiry into Biden last year, House Republicans relied largely on unverified claims from an FBI informant released by Senate Republicans suggesting that payments from a total of $10 million from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma to the Bidens had been discussed. The now former FBI informant, Alexander Smirnov, was arrested last month in a case also supervised by Weiss. He has denied being guilty of charges that he fabricated the bribery allegations.

If convicted of the tax charges, 53-year-old Hunter Biden could face a maximum of 17 years in prison.