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Judge agrees to delay Hunter Biden trial in California tax fraud case as Delaware trial looms

5/22: CBS Morning News
5/22: CBS Morning News 20:14

Washington — A federal judge in Los Angeles agreed Wednesday to postpone Hunter Biden's federal criminal trial on tax fraud charges until September.

The case was originally scheduled to go to trial on June 20, but Biden's legal team asked the court for the delay. 

In court filings, his attorneys argued that a series of scheduling conflicts and pending appeals would overlap with his criminal case in Delaware, where he faces three felony gun charges and is expected to go to trial on June 3. Biden has pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied wrongdoing.

Biden's attorney's also argued that challenges securing expert witnesses warranted a delay during Wednesday's hearing. Prosecutor Leo Wise rebuffed their claims saying, "Justice delayed is justice denied."

In a 56-page indictment, special counsel David Weiss — appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware by former President Donald Trump and named special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee the Hunter Biden probe — alleged President Joe Biden's son engaged in a "four-year scheme" to avoid paying at least $1.4 million in federal taxes. In December, he was charged with three felony and six misdemeanor counts related to his alleged failure to file and pay taxes, evasion of assessment and filing of a false or fraudulent tax return. 

The Justice Department said Hunter Biden earned more than $7 million in gross income when he failed to pay taxes and alleged he funded an "extravagant lifestyle" and dodged taxes by classifying some personal expenditures — such as luxury hotel stays, luxury vehicle rentals and escort services — as business deductions.  

He was not present for Wednesday's hearing. 

The continuance announced in court by U.S. District Judge Mark Scarsi comes weeks before Biden is to stand trial in Delaware federal court on felony gun charges, also brought by Weiss' office. The president's son is accused of illegally owning a firearm while using illicit drugs. His attorneys have unsuccessfully tried several times to delay the trial. 

On Tuesday, the special counsel revealed his plans to call numerous witnesses as part of the gun case, including Hunter Biden's ex-wife and former girlfriends. 

Prosecutors also said Wednesday they will try to show the jury photos from his Apple iCloud account and laptop and messages he sent at the upcoming felony gun trial. 

A computer repair shop owner provided the FBI with a laptop that the shop owner says was left by Hunter Biden in 2019. He also gave a copy of the laptop data to former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Last September, Hunter Biden sued Giuliani for hacking data from his laptop.

Giuliani has shown off the laptop in public: "This belongs to Hunter Biden," he  said, while holding up a laptop during a Feb. 2, 2023, episode of "America's Mayor Live." But a spokesman for him said when the lawsuit was filed that the accusation that the drive had been manipulated was false. The lawsuit has not been resolved.

Hunter Biden's legal team has sought to limit what evidence from the laptop can be used by prosecutors at trial.

The dueling cases against the president's son came after a plea agreement on two misdemeanor tax charges and a diversion agreement stemming from the firearms charge unraveled in court in July 2023 when the judge questioned whether the agreement would allow Hunter Biden to avoid potential future charges, as well as the charges related to his taxes. 

Hunter Biden's legal team has argued the agreement from last summer that would have avoided the trials was still in effect and urged judges to dismiss the counts. So far, those arguments have been unsuccessful. 

Elli Fitzgerald reported from Los Angeles.

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