US President Joe Biden's son Hunter has reached a plea deal on minor tax and gun charges, concluding a five-year investigation that involved persistent Republican allegations that major crimes were being covered up.
Hunter Biden, 53, has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of failure to pay federal income tax and admitted to illegally possessing a gun despite being a drug user, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The plea agreement between Hunter and the US Attorney's Office in his home state of Delaware will need to be approved by a federal judge.
The president's son is unlikely to face any prison time.
According to The Washington Post, prosecutors will seek probation on the tax and gun charges.
When asked on Tuesday about the plea deal, President Biden, 80, told reporters at an event in California that he was "very proud of my son."
US Attorney David Weiss, an appointee of former president Donald Trump, said Hunter had agreed to plead guilty to "two counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax."
According to the charges, Hunter, a Yale-trained lawyer and lobbyist, failed to file his tax returns on time on earnings of more than $1.5 million for 2017 and 2018.
In both years, he owed more than $100,000 in taxes on those earnings. Each count brings up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 or double what he stood to gain by breaking the law.
Weiss said Hunter was also facing one count of "possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance."
Hunter detailed his struggles with crack cocaine and other drugs in a 2021 memoir, released months after his father took office.
He will not be prosecuted on the gun charge but will enter what is known as "pretrial diversion," which often involves counselling or rehabilitation.
In a statement, Christopher Clark, Hunter's lawyer, said "it is my understanding that the five-year investigation into Hunter is resolved.
"Hunter will take responsibility for two instances of misdemeanour failure to file tax payments when due," Clark said.
"I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life," he added.
"He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward."
Misdemeanour tax cases aren't common, and most that are filed end with a sentence that doesn't include time behind bars, said Caroline Ciraolo, an attorney who served as head of the Justice Department’s tax division from 2015 to 2017.
'Slap on the wrist'
Trump, who is facing felony charges in Florida of mishandling government secrets and charges in New York for paying hush money to an adult actress, sought to contrast his own legal woes with those of the president's son.
Trump slammed the plea agreement as a mere "traffic ticket" for Hunter Biden and a "full scale election interference 'scam.'"
"Our system is BROKEN!" Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform.
Representative James Comer, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, described the plea agreement as a "slap on the wrist" and pledged to continue his investigation into the Biden family's business dealings.
An expected federal conviction "is not a slap on the wrist," Ciraolo said.
"These charges against Hunter Biden and sweetheart plea deal have no impact on the Oversight Committee's investigation," Comer said.
Hunter became a regular focus of Trump's attacks ahead of the November 2020 election for his work in Ukraine and China.