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Hunter Biden has been indicted on federal tax charges

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Biden's son, Hunter Biden, has been indicted on federal tax charges in California. The charges stem from a Justice Department special counsel investigation into the younger Biden and his business dealings. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas has been covering this and joins us now. Hey, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Hey there.

CHANG: OK, so I understand this is just breaking news as of the moment, but what can you tell us so far about these charges?

LUCAS: Right. This is a 56-page indictment that was handed up by a federal grand jury in the Central District of California. It charges Hunter Biden with nine counts. Three of them are felony tax counts - one for tax evasion, two for filing a false return. The other six counts are misdemeanors - so lesser charges. Those are for failing to pay his taxes and failing to file his taxes. Now, these nine counts in all are related to the tax years 2016 through 2019.

CHANG: OK, so a few years in question - what does the special counsel say was going on then?

LUCAS: Well, the indictment says that Hunter Biden engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed taxes and to evade the assessment of taxes for 2018. The indictment says he subverted his own company's payroll and tax withholding process, and he did that, it says, by withdrawing millions of dollars from outside that sort of standard withholding system. Now, the indictment says that, between 2016 and 2020, Hunter made more than $7 million in total gross income. It says he got another 1.2 million in financial support. It says he willfully did not pay his taxes on time, 2016 through 2019, despite, it says, having access to money to pay all or some of those taxes. And then there's a rather biting line in the indictment that says that Hunter Biden, quote, "spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills."

CHANG: Huh. OK, well, these are not the only federal charges he's facing, right? He was indicted earlier this year as well, yeah?

LUCAS: That's right. That's right. He was indicted this summer on federal gun charges as part of the special counsel's investigation. Those charges came about after a tentative plea deal that Biden had agreed to in Delaware fell apart. He had agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges there, but that deal all unraveled. He was later then charged on those gun counts. He's pleaded not guilty to those. We've known for a while that there was the possibility that he would also get hit with tax charges. Now, today, here he has been.

CHANG: He has. All right. Well, has there been any response so far from Hunter Biden or his attorneys?

LUCAS: I have reached out to his legal team. But, again, since this is breaking news, I have not heard yet back from them.

CHANG: OK. Well, let's just step back for a bit because Hunter Biden's business dealings - I mean, they've been at the center of Republican investigations on Capitol Hill for quite some time. What are the political implications, you think, of this indictment now?

LUCAS: Well, you're right. Republicans in the House and the Senate, but particularly the House, have zeroed in on Hunter and his business activities for several years now. House Republicans have made them a focus of their impeachment inquiry into President Biden, even though they haven't turned up any evidence directly linking the president to anything illegal. But certainly, what you have now is a second federal indictment against the president's son as House Republicans are pursuing their impeachment inquiry. And, of course, the country is starting to move into the 2024 presidential campaign. President Biden is seeking reelection. So there certainly will be some political repercussions to all of this, but I think we're just going to have to wait and see how that all plays out.

CHANG: That is NPR's Ryan Lucas. Thank you so much, Ryan.

LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ailsa Chang
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Ryan Lucas
Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.