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Judge to rule by April 17 on defense motions in Hunter Biden tax case

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(LOS ANGELES) — The federal judge overseeing Hunter Biden’s tax case in California heard several defense motions to dismiss the charges Wednesday, and said afterward that he would issue rulings by April 17.

After a relatively civil start to the hearing, tensions escalated as defense attorney Abbe Lowell and prosecutor Leo Wise bickered and, at times, approached open hostility — ultimately drawing a response from the judge.

Wise repeatedly said Lowell could not make an argument on the merits of the case “other than insulting us,” and invoked what he referred to as “the old adage: if you can’t argue the facts, argue the law … and if you can’t argue the law, attack the prosecutors.”

The frequent bickering prompted Judge Mark Scarsi to remind the parties that “we’re just looking at the facts and the law …. aspersions cast on each other roll off.”

Hunter Biden did not attend the hearing.

Special counsel David Weiss has accused Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, of failing to pay taxes on millions of dollars of income he earned from overseas business ventures. A sprawling 56-page indictment filed in December described in vivid detail how Hunter Biden, in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction, spent recklessly on women, clothing and adult entertainment.

“In short, everything but his taxes,” prosecutors wrote.

The back taxes and penalties were subsequently paid in full by a third party, identified by ABC News as Hunter Biden’s attorney and confidant, Kevin Morris. Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Scarsi appeared skeptical of several of Hunter Biden’s motions to dismiss, especially the motion to toss counts 1-4 on the basis that the charges were brought in the wrong venue.

Lowell argued that Hunter Biden was a resident of Washington, D.C., and Delaware in the calendar year 2018, which he said would make it improper to charge several counts in California.

Judge Scarsi repeatedly expressed that it was not the court’s role to weigh in on factual matters — that it was a matter for a jury to decide. He told Lowell he was “hamstrung” and “that’s the rub.”

“I don’t think there’s anything this court can do pretrial,” Judge Scarsi said.

The judge also pressed Lowell about his claim that the indictment was the result of a “selective and vindictive” prosecution.

“There doesn’t seem to be any evidence” that efforts by Republicans to pressure special counsel Weiss “influenced the prosecutors’ decision other than the timeline,” Judge Scarsi said — likening the motion to some “smoke” but without sufficient “fire.”

Lowell conceded that he had no direct evidence, but asked the court to investigate the matter further and “connect the dots.” He repeatedly sparred with Judge Scarsi over the significance of a timeline he’d filed — which included allegations made by House Republicans and two IRS whistleblowers in an effort to demonstrate that Weiss buckled to political pressure.

“It’s a timeline, but it’s a pretty juicy timeline,” Lowell said.

Derek Hines, an attorney in Weiss’ office, called Lowell’s timeline theories “absolutely outrageous accusations” and a “fallacy.”

Lowell, earlier in the hearing, argued that “the whole” of his eight motions to dismiss the case “is actually greater than the sum of its parts.”

Wise called elements of Hunter Biden’s pleadings “revisionist history” and “effectively fact-free.”

The charges, which carry a penalty of up to 17 years in prison, include six misdemeanor charges and three felonies, including alleged tax evasion and filing a false return.

Judge Scarsi has scheduled the trial to begin on June 20.

Hunter Biden has also pleaded not guilty to three additional firearm-related charges brought by Weiss’ office in Delaware. That case is expected to go to trial in early June.

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