For perhaps the first time in his life, Hunter Biden’s last name didn’t land him an easy day in court. The New York Post summed it up perfectly: “Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal on gun, tax charges torpedoed by judge in sensational court room dust up.”
Hunter’s “probation-only plea deal fell apart” with US District Judge Maryellen Noreika accusing both sides of wanted her to “rubber-stamp” an improperly broad agreement. The Post reports:
The stunning turn of events came more than 90 minutes into the hearing at the federal courthouse in Wilmington, Del., where Hunter was expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay taxes and enter a diversion program on a felony federal weapons charge.
But US District Judge Maryellen Noreika ran the rule over both prosecutors and the lawyers for President Biden’s 53-year-old son — asking assistant US attorney Leo Wise if Hunter was still under scrutiny for potential offenses including failing to register as a foreign agent for lucrative dealings in countries such as China and Ukraine that allegedly involved his father.
“Yes,” admitted Wise, echoing repeated statements by his boss, Delaware US Attorney David Weiss, whose office confirmed the ongoing nature of the probe to The Post Wednesday. Hunter’s main attorney, Chris Clark, has insisted that he believed the first son’s criminal liability is resolved by the plea deal, and responded to Wise by dramatically announcing: “As far as I’m concerned, the plea agreement is null and void.”
After a 20-minute recess “that doubled as a bargaining period, both sides tried to move forward with a revised plea deal that specified Hunter would face no additional charges.” Judge Noreika was still not convinced.
Finally, after three hours of high drama, Noreika told Wise and Clark that the revised agreement was still “not straightforward” and included “atypical provisions.”
“I think having you guys talk more makes sense,” the judge said, before asking Hunter: “Without me saying I’ll agree to the plea agreement, how do you plead?”
“Not guilty, your honor,” the president’s son answered, a pro forma statement ahead of his next hearing, set for Aug. 25.
Among accusations Hunter could still answer to is that he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The Post explains:
FARA can carry stiff penalties, and a five-year statute of limitations means that charges likely would have to come soon for Hunter — who left the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma in 2019 and whose most lucrative Chinese government-linked partnership spanned 2017 and 2018.
iolations of the law can send perpetrators to prison. Former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced in 2018 to 60 months behind bars specifically for FARA violations related to his work in Ukraine, plus another 30 months for tax and bank fraud and witness tampering.
The first son thus far has avoided charges for allegedly working as an unregistered foreign agent, and congressional Republicans are demanding to know what if anything Weiss’ team did to investigate an FBI informant’s June 2020 tip that a Ukrainian oligarch said he paid $10 million in bribes to Hunter and then-Vice President Joe Biden to influence US government policy.
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Elizabeth Warren Acknowledges Unintended Consequences of Obamacare
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a longtime supporter of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is now acknowledging the unintended consequences of the healthcare legislation, particularly its impact on industry consolidation and rising healthcare prices.
Warren, who has been a vocal proponent of Obamacare, has recently had what the Wall Street Journal reported as an “epiphany” regarding the consequences of the healthcare law. In a letter addressed to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, Warren, along with Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, expressed concerns about vertically-integrated healthcare companies potentially increasing prescription drug costs and evading federal regulations.
According to reports from Fox News, the bipartisan letter highlighted issues with the nation’s largest health insurers allegedly bypassing Obamacare’s medical loss ratio (MLR). According to Warren, these insurers, through vertical integration, have manipulated the system, leading to “sky-high prescription drug costs and excessive corporate profits.”
The senators detailed how conglomerates, like UnitedHealth Group, with ownership across various healthcare sectors, could inflate medical payments to pharmacies and, by realizing those payments on the pharmacy side, appear to comply with MLR requirements while retaining more profits.
Moreover, despite the Democrats’ argument that the MLR would benefit patients, it has incentivized insurers to merge with or acquire pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), retail and specialty pharmacies, and healthcare providers. This, in turn, has made healthcare spending less transparent, as insurers can allegedly shift profits to their affiliates by increasing reimbursements.
Warren, who has consistently voted against Obamacare repeal efforts, notably advocated for a “Medicare for All” proposal during her 2020 presidential campaign. Despite her prior support for the healthcare law, Warren’s recent concerns about its unintended consequences have raised questions about the long-term effects of Obamacare and its impact on the healthcare industry.
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