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CNN’s Paula Reid Fact-Checks GOP Hunter Biden Complaints — Dismisses ‘Ongoing Investigation’ As Standard Language

Poppy Harlow CNN
Thought Leader: Poppy Harlow
June 21, 2023
Source: CNN

CNN’s Paula Reid fact-checked Republicans who complain the Hunter Biden plea deal is unfair, and also dismissed a statement that said the investigation into Biden is “ongoing.”

After news broke Tuesday morning that President Joe Biden’s only surviving son Hunter has reached a plea deal on three federal charges — two tax misdemeanors and one gun felony — Trump and many other Republicans immediately complained loudly about the deal.

On Wednesday morning’s edition of CNN This Morning, anchor Poppy Harlow asked Reid to deliver the facts around those complaints, and Reid explained the deal is not unusual, and that the “confusion” about whether the investigation is “ongoing” is due to the use of “boilerplate” language in the charging announcement:

HARLOW: Up to get straight to our colleague, Paula Reid. She joins us now, Paula, good morning to you. Nancy Mace is among a lot of Republicans both candidates for the White House. And also, Republicans in Congress who are saying this isn’t fair, this doesn’t make sense, this is only because his last name is Biden. Tell us more about the reaction and the facts.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that’s exactly why you hear the Attorney General there trying to emphasize, that this case has been overseen by a Trump appointed U.S. Attorney someone that he had stay on to continue to oversee this investigation. As he has also appointed special counsels to handle the investigations into President Biden and former President Trump. He is trying to preserve and protect the independence and the reputation of the Justice Department.

Specifically, when it comes to Hunter Biden, we know the president’s son continues to be a political flashpoint with Republicans really capitalizing on his personal and legal problems and trying to connect them to his father. But here, after five years of a Trump appointed U.S. attorney with all the resources of the Justice Department, who has investigated everything from possible foreign lobbying to money laundering. All that’s left on the table here in this plea deal are two misdemeanor tax charges.

So, Hunter Biden is expected to plead guilty to failing to pay his taxes on time in 2017 and 2018. He owed about $100,000 in each of those years. He failed to pay by the deadline, but he did eventually pay those taxes along with fees and penalties. And we’ve learned from our sources, the Justice Department is expected to recommend probation for his sentence. And Poppy, this is not an unusual way to resolve the case where someone failed to pay taxes for the first time by a deadline.

Now, as part of this deal, Hunter Biden can also avoid facing a felony gun charge for failing to disclose his addiction on a form when buying a firearm. It is very unusual at the federal level to be charged with anything like this. But at the state level, it is common to use what is called a diversion program to avoid sending someone to jail or penalizing them when drugs or alcohol are involved.

So, he’ll have to comply with some court ordered requirements in order to get that charge expunged. But Poppy, all of this is subject to approval by a judge. But at the end of the day, what the Justice Department is presenting here and what Hunter is agreeing to plead guilty too, does not corroborate. Many of the accusations that have made against Hunter Biden.

HARLOW: Right, that’s right. And just to be clear, a deal for diversion program like this is not rare, maybe rare to be charged federally, but not rare for someone who’s not a convicted felon or has not used that gun in the commission of a violent crime. To your point about where this goes, a judge needs to sign off on it. But the memo from David Weiss announcing this deal used the word ongoing to describe the investigation. What does that mean?

REID: So, a lot of confusion over this Poppy, because Hunter Biden’s lawyers released a statement saying that they believe this plea deal would resolve out all outstanding matters. So, it was a little surprising when the U.S. Attorney released a statement saying this matter is ongoing. Now, in speaking to experts and our sources, it appears that that’s just boilerplate language that you put in an announcement.

Because look, the plea deal? This is not the final disposition of this case. A judge has to approve it, Hunter Biden has to hold up his end of the deal. So, clearly, this case is going to be open until all of those issues are resolved. But it is expected that there was unlikely that any other issues would be outstanding because it would be highly irregular for the Justice Department to resolve a case with a plea deal if they were still investigating other substantial issues.

Now, we know lawmakers have said that if they get a chance to talk to the U.S. Attorney, they’re going to seek clarity. We may also get some clarification if and when Hunter Biden appears in court to plead guilty and be arraigned which we expect will happen in the coming weeks.

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