David Weiss Maintains He Can Use Hunter Biden’s Diversion Statements at Failed Plea Hearing

David Weiss has made a show of agreeing to Hunter Biden’s Motion in Limine to exclude statements from his failed plea colloquy but has done nothing of the sort.

In response, he claims that he has already agreed to this, but has submitted his own order because the scope Hunter is asking for is broader than that covered by rules of criminal procedure.

The United States, by and through undersigned counsel, respectfully submits this Response to defendant’s motion in limine (Doc. No. 137). The government previously advised the defendant that the government does not intend to introduce the defendant’s statements from the July 26, 2023, hearing outside the limits of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(f) and Federal Rule of Evidence 410. Because the relief he requests, the exclusion of such statements “in this matter,” is broader than Federal Rule of Evidence 410, the government asks the Court to grant his motion in part and enter the attached order to this pleading which conforms with the Rules.

FRE 410 has an exception, allowing prosecutors to use statements for use in false statements charges, as has been charged here.

(b) Exceptions. The court may admit a statement described in Rule 410(a)(3) or (4):

(1) in any proceeding in which another statement made during the same plea or plea discussions has been introduced, if in fairness the statements ought to be considered together; or

(2) in a criminal proceeding for perjury or false statement, if the defendant made the statement under oath, on the record, and with counsel present.

Hunter’s proposed order is broader than that — it excludes such statements altogether.

Among the things Hunter agreed to at the plea hearing was language written by Weiss’ team describing Hunter’s well-documented struggle with abuse.

THE COURT: All right. Thank you. Okay. In the next paragraph, it says you have a well-documented and long-standing struggle with abuse and you did tell me already, I’m not going to ask you again about your efforts to treat that. But when we talk about well-documented, is there a particular thing that we’re looking at for where it’s documented or is that just based on your discussions?

THE DEFENDANT: Well, I believe the government is referring to a book that I wrote about my struggles with addiction in that period of time in my life. And quite possibly other news outlets and interviews and things that have been done.

In other words, prosecutors made a big show of agreeing, but instead have carved out their ability to use Hunter’s admissions to being an addict at trial.

To be clear: Under the rules of evidence they can use the plea colloquy (something that has come up over and over). Hunter is asking for broader exclusion, but Weiss is playing games to make it look like he’s agreeing (meaning Judge Noreika will not review the issue), while instead getting her to sign an order permitting them to use everything.

How David Weiss Plans to Prove the Gun Case against Hunter Biden

In addition to their ham-handed attempt to cover up that the gun shop at which Hunter Biden purchased a gun fluffs gun purchase documents for “celebrity” purchasers, David Weiss’ team submitted their trial brief for the gun case yesterday. That, taken in conjunction with their Motions in Limine, provides a good sense of the gimmicks they plan to use to win the case against Hunter Biden. (You can find all these filings at my Hunter Biden page, which for the Delaware case is up to date.)

Ignore the Gun Shop’s Celebrity Treatment

As noted, David Weiss’ crack prosecutors only discovered that the gun shop had altered the Hunter Biden gun form after the fact when Abbe Lowell told them that at a status hearing last week.

They quickly reinterviewed gun shop employees, only to discover their testimony conflicts about whether they got that second form of ID in real time, or instead blew off doing so because Hunter was a “celebrity” purchaser and everyone knew his father.

In their belated motion in limine trying to prevent Hunter Biden from revealing that the gun shop altered this very form after the fact, prosecutors argue that relying on evidence about alterations made three years after the fact would amount to putting the gun shop owner on trial.

Except it’s not that simple. Both the 302 of the gun shop owner and the guy who sold the gun make it clear that someone in a back room is responsible for ensuring that the paperwork is in order, along with a clerk who handles the documents a third time. “He would not have paid attention to the paperwork side of the sale,” sales guy Gordon Cleveland told the FBI, “because he had already done his part by working with the customer and making the sale.” That is, the only guy in contact with the customer is not in charge of ensuring that the paperwork is in order — some guy in a back room, who submits the form to the authorities, is in charge of that.

Gun shop owner Ronald Palimere explained that his shop bifurcates the roles that way to “prevent errors.” Except even the tracking number did not get added to this form until after it was submitted to ATF; they appear to have added it after it was clear there was an investigation into the gun. The bifurcated role did the opposite of ensuring compliance.

In other words, if Judge Maryellen Noreika allows Hunter Biden to present this scandalous detail, it provides one way to sow doubt: if the gun shop was willing to alter the form three years after submission to belatedly comply with requirements, who’s to say they weren’t the ones who asserted that Hunter Biden wasn’t an addict?

Continue to Misrepresent Hunter Biden’s Memoir

When this is all said and done, I’m going to count the number of times that David Weiss and the two Trump-appointed judges justified this prosecution with a claim that everything they needed for the prosecution appeared in Hunter Biden’s memoir, with prosecutors and Judge Noreika all making false claims about what’s actually in the memoir, in the prosecutors’ case, repeatedly.

The problem is that Hunter actually didn’t say much about what happened between the time he returned to Delaware in October 2018 and when he went to Massachusetts for Ketamine treatment at the hands of Fox News pundit Keith Ablow that November. All those claims that the memoir provided abundant evidence to prove the gun case against Hunter? Nope.

And, as I’ve laid out repeatedly, what prosecutors once claimed showed the state of Hunter Biden’s addiction in October 2018, when he bought the gun, and still claim presents his continued state of addiction from October 2018, is actually his description of his addiction after (Hunter describes) the Ketamine treatment made it worse.

The therapy’s results were disastrous. I was in no way ready to process the feelings it unloosed or prompted by reliving past physical and emotional traumas. So I backslid. I did exactly what I’d come to Massachusetts to stop doing. I’d stay clean for a week, break away from the center to meet a connection I found in Rhode Island, smoke up, then return.


Finally, the therapist in Newburyport said there was little point in our continuing.

“Hunter,” he told me, with all the exasperated, empathetic sincerity he could muster, “this is not working.”

I headed back toward Delaware, in no shape to face anyone or anything. To ensure that I wouldn’t have to do either, I took an exit at New Haven. For the next three or four weeks, I lived in a series of low-budget, low-expectations motels up and down Interstate 95, between New Haven and Bridgeport.

I exchanged L.A.’s $400-a-night bungalows and their endless parade of blingy degenerates for the underbelly of Connecticut’s $59-a-night motel rooms and the dealers, hookers, and hard-core addicts—like me—who favored them. I no longer had one foot in polite society and one foot out. I avoided polite society altogether. I hardly went anywhere now, except to buy. It was me and a crack pipe in a Super 8, not knowing which the fuck way was up. [my emphasis]

And they keep massaging this timeline. In their latest iteration in the trial brief, prosecutors try to minimize how long Hunter was in Ablow’s treatment (which, in any case, is inaccurate in Hunter’s book).

In his book, the defendant describes that he had a short stint at a therapistrun wellness center in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where the defendant says he sought drug addiction therapy.

By “brief,” these prosecutors mean Hunter claimed he spent 8 weeks in Newburyport, but the available evidence shows his follow-up trip started in mid-January, weeks earlier than he claimed in the book.

I would make two trips up there, staying for about six weeks on the first visit, returning to Maryland, then heading back for a couple weeks of follow-up in February of the new year.

As noted here, prosecutors are trying to edit the memoir to say what they want it to say, cherry picking pages and presenting them out of context. After I noted that they had excluded the part that shows Hunter arriving back in Delaware, they’ve added it belatedly in their trial brief.

7 Page 203 was inadvertently omitted from the government’s excerpts at Doc. No. 119-1. The government includes this single page in Exhibit 1 to this filing (it is the only page added to the submission at 119-1).

Abbe Lowell unsurprisingly objected to this cherry picking.

Lastly, setting aside the admissibility of additional statements from Mr. Biden’s memoir, equally concerning is the Special Counsel’s selective redaction to statements contained in the pages in Exhibit 1, without regard to the completeness of those proffered pages. For example, on page 219 (Chapter 11 title page, “Saved”), the Special Counsel included the opening sentence, “By the time my plane touched down in Los Angeles in March 2019, I had no plan beyond the momentto-moment demands of the crack pipe.” Ex. 1 at 219. However, the very next sentence on the page is redacted: “I was committed to one thing: vanishing for good.” Such a statement—whether Mr. Biden was in such despair or depression that he wanted to disappear, or worse, relent to suicidal thoughts—again goes to Mr. Biden’s then-existing state of mind, and should Mr. Biden seek its admission at trial, it ought to be admissible subject to its relevance and probative value.


Just as importantly, these redacted pages ignore the common-law doctrine of completeness codified in Rule 106—limited to writings or recorded statements. Fed. R. Evid. 106, Adv. n.1. The rule’s purpose is to prevent a party from misleading the jury by allowing into the record relevant portions of the excluded testimony which clarify or explain the part already received. United States v. Ricks, 882 F.2d 885, 893 (4th Cir. 1989). But that is exactly what the Special Counsel has asked to do here—determining what it deems relevant, without regard to the complete context and conditions as Mr. Biden described it in his memoir.

This is one of just a few key decisions before Judge Noreika that may determine the outcome of the trial: whether she lets prosecutors effectively rewrite Hunter’s memoir so it tells a story that it really doesn’t.

Virgin Birth the Laptop

The other is what to do about the laptop.

Last August, prosecutors brashly told Abbe Lowell they didn’t need any laptop evidence to prove their case, that all of it also existed in Hunter’s iCloud data. That was, of course, over three months before they obtained the first warrant to search Hunter’s digital evidence for gun crimes, so they should not — and may not — have known how wrong they were.

Prosecutors now submitted what they bill as a summary chart of the communications they say support their case. Even more of the comms they’re relying on come from the laptop than when Derek Hines admitted they were relying on laptop comms in February.

Fully half — 148 out of 294 messages or videos — are sourced to the laptop (I’ve split out some of the laptop messages to highlight ones that are temporal outliers, which I may return to). And, as was true of Hines’ earlier filing, Weiss is relying on communications that only exist on the laptop to show Hunter’s state of mind in the period he owned the gun.


In a motion in limine, Weiss’ team tried to argue that because two FBI guys have certified that what they’ve shared is what they got from Apple and John Paul Mac Isaac, they don’t need to further validate these communications. They’re claiming this summary table is sufficient.

The government moves for a preliminary determination, as authorized by Federal Rule of Evidence 104, that a 1006 summary chart that summarizes the electronic evidence is admissible in evidence during trial, and the underlying evidence it summarizes is authentic pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 902(14). The summary chart satisfies the requirements of Rule 1006. The chart accurately summarizes electronic evidence derived from search warrants of the defendant’s Apple iCloud account and the defendant’s laptop and hard drive.

This ploy attempts to substitute the act of summarizing for the act of proving technical admissibility.

Unsurprisingly, the trial brief does not describe any plan to call the two technical experts — Robert Gearhart and Michael Waski — to describe the technical validity of the laptop. Weiss similarly is not calling Boyd Pritchard, the FBI agent who made a show of searching the laptop for gun crime evidence after Weiss finally got a warrant to do so.

In fact, Erika Jensen — the same woman who did interviews of the gun shop employees, at least one by herself — may be the only FBI employee (the forensic expert who tested the powder in the pouch that once held the gun may be the other) Weiss definitely plans to call to testify. And Jensen’s summary chart claims to rely on the original December 2019 laptop warrant rather than the December 2023 one as authority to have seized gun-related content.

This testimony will likely make or break any ongoing career at the FBI, because prosecutors are hanging this entire prosecution on her testimony (though I guess if Trump wins the election, she can expect a fat promotion). Particularly given that she’s the sole Agent to be involved in those key gun shop interviews, this could be more difficult than originally imagined.

It is common for prosecutors to try to “clean team” damning parts of the investigation — ensuring that investigative personnel privy to inconvenient facts never take the stand. Weiss has largely clean-teamed the entire underlying investigation.

This is, unsurprisingly, the topic about which Abbe Lowell had the most to say.

The Special Counsel seeks to exclude any authenticity challenge to six iCloud backup files included in its summary chart are self-authenticating pursuant to Rule 902(14). 1 That data, obtained in 2019 and 2020 from a search warrant to Apple, Inc. and, by subpoena and later a search warrant for The Mac Shop in Delaware, consists of more than 18,000 pages from various sources, including four iCloud backup files from Apple, Inc. and two backup files from a MacBook laptop and external hard drive subpoenaed from The Mac Shop in December 2019. (D.E.120 (“Mot.”) at 1, 3.) Defense counsel has numerous reasons to believe the data had been altered and compromised before investigators obtained the electronic material from Apple Inc. and The Mac Shop, such that the Special Counsel’s claim that the underlying data is “authentic” (id. at 4) and accurately reflects “defendant’s Apple Macbook Pro and [] hard drive” (id. at 2) is mistaken.


Mr. Biden’s counsel told the Special Counsel on May 10, 2024 it agrees not to challenge the authenticity of the electronic data the Special Counsel intends to use with respect to it being what law enforcement received on December 9, 2019 from John Paul Mac Isaac (owner of The Mac Shop), and from Apple on August 29, 2019 and in a follow-up search on July 10, 2020. (Mot. at n.3.) However, Mr. Biden cannot agree this electronic data is “authentic” as to being his data as he used and stored it prior to Mac Issac [sic] obtaining it. Mac Issac [sic] claims he received an Apple MacBook laptop from a customer on April 12, 2019. FBI investigators did not obtain that data until December 9, 2019 through a grand jury subpoena, or gain lawful permission to access it until December 13, 2019 through a search warrant (No. 19-309M), some eight months after the Mac Isaac acquired the laptop. 2

2 The prosecution only received Office of Enforcement Operations approval to seek a search warrant for the laptop and hard drive on December 12, 2019, with the warrant issued the following day. See Gary Shapley, Laptop and Hard Drive Timeline (Oct. 22, 2020), Ex. 6 to Test. before H. Comm. on Ways & Means (May 26, 2023). Any access by FBI CART agents prior to December 12, 2019 was unauthorized, and Mr. Biden’s counsel objects to the any unlawful access of the laptop or hard drive prior to December 13, 2019.

Lowell only cites John Paul Mac Isaac’s claims about accessing the laptop (which Lowell presumably has gotten in sworn fashion as part of the lawsuit), media reviews of the laptop (which probably reflect the data post-dating the FBI’s receipt of the laptop), and Lev Parnas’ description of being offered the laptop as part of Rudy’s information operation.

I’ve shown repeatedly (for example, one, two, three, four, five) that there are more indices of compromise throughout this data — indices that Weiss tries to brush away with a frankly stupid explanation that Hallie Biden will testify Hunter often “lost” phones.

Witness 3 observed that the defendant frequently lost phones and changed phones, which explains gaps in time where there are no messages.

Given the way Hunter backed up his data except on the laptop that ended up being delivered to John Paul Mac Isaac, this should not create the gaps Weiss has identified. He may have even more problems explaining why there are isolated comms in particular places where — given the temporal patterns here — they shouldn’t be.

In any case, in the five pages Lowell had, I’m not sure he has made this case. Plus, Judge Noreika is vulnerable on this point herself, having ruled that there’s no proof Rudy Giuliani influenced this case even while claiming data that is publicly available because of Rudy instead derived to Hunter’s memoir.

David Weiss’ case should be far more solid than it is. The gun shop’s alterations of gun form data provides Hunter a way to question whether he asserted he was not an addict or whether gun shop employees did. Only through shameless cherry picking have prosecutors made the memoir say what they need it to say. And Lowell should be able to raise real questions about the provenance of all the data derived from the laptop which, as I noted, includes the most important communications.

The success of what Weiss obviously thought was going to be a slam dunk may depend on Weiss’ success at getting Noreika to buy off on his gimmicks to shore up weak parts of the case.

Update: Derek Hines — he of the sawdust as cocaine — has filed a table-thumping reply accusing Hunter’s team of not understanding the laptop. He describes that Hallie will validate the comms between her and Hunter during the days after he purchased the gun.

Messages between the defendant and Witness 3, beginning in row 88 because the defendant began using his ex-wife’s phone in October 2018 and her old phone was not synced to his iCloud account. Witness 3 will testify to the authenticity of these messages at trial.

These are, without exception, the most important pieces of evidence in the case.

But then he admits he doesn’t have validation for around 83 other messages (about 21% of the total), including a bunch of videos that have mixed metadata (for example, one taken on an iPhone 8 on October 22 but saved onto the iPhone XS, another captured on October 16 but first saved on November 27, during the period when Ablow was involved).

Messages in Row 85-86 (a message where the defendant says “I need more chore boy,” which is used consistently in the message with how the defendant described “chore boy” in his book), Rows 87 and 135-137 (messages where the defendant says he in Delaware, which is consistent with his ATM withdrawal activity, location information on photographs on his phone, and his admissions in his book), Row 214 (a photograph of the defendant with a crack pipe in his hand), and 216-292 (videos and photographs of the defendant with a crack pipe and drug messages from December to March 2019, consistent with the defendant’s characterization of his activity in his book).

Hines — he of the sawdust as cocaine — is demanding that Hunter prove absence of chain of custody rather than prosecutors proving it affirmatively.

The crazier complaint comes in the way Hines — he of the sawdust as cocaine — claims that because Hunter cited Lev Parnas’ description of Vitaly Pruss’ offer of the laptop in this time period, Hunter is “asking people to believe Russian intelligence when it suits his interests.”

The defendant also relies on an allegation that a Russian businessman told a third-party that Biden’s devices were compromised by FSB during his 2014 trip to Kazakhstan. This is yet another example of the defendant asking people to believe Russian intelligence when it suits his interests, but not to believe Russian intelligence when it doesn’t suit his interests.

I get that Rudy Giuliani’s role in all this is particularly sensitive — particularly given his role in the Brady back channel that David Weiss chased credulously. But I’m not aware of any time when Hunter has chased Russian intelligence. David Weiss did that, not Hunter.

I asked Weiss’ spox for clarification, but he nodded only to court filings.

Hunter Biden Prosecutor Derek Hines Confesses He Failed To Do Basic Due Diligence, Again

I’ve written about how David Weiss’ prosecutors indicted Hunter Biden before they had taken basic investigative steps — like obtaining a warrant to search the President’s son’s digital data for evidence of gun crimes, or sending the gun to the FBI lab for testing, or figuring out what the evidence actually showed.

But wow, this one is a doozy.

Prosecutors just filed a late Motion in Limine (it was signed by Derek Hines, the sloppier of two sloppy AUSAs calling themselves Senior Assistant Special Counsels), seeking to prevent Hunter Biden from introducing evidence about how the guys at the gun store belatedly added information to the form on which he allegedly lied. They want to prevent Hunter’s team from telling the jury about how three years after the purchase, people in the gun store added information to the form to make it look like they had properly demanded a second form of identification after Hunter used his passport to buy a gun.

In other words, the original scanned form



Differs from the physical form that prosecutors would need to submit at trial.


The government says — citing what they claim is an interview with the gun shop owner, Ronald Palimere — that the gun store guy insists the original form is accurate (and it may well be).

Following the hearing on May 14, 2024, the government interviewed Palimere on May 16, 2024. Exh. 2. He confirmed that Certified Form 4473 was the accurate version of the form as it existed on the date the defendant purchased his firearm:

For the sale to Biden, all the fields completed on the certified 4473 were done before Biden left the store. . . Palimere scanned and emailed the certified 4473 to Reisch . . . The form was then filed away. Palimere did not handle the form again for three years and until he was requested to turn it over to ATF SA Veronica Hnat on September 23, 2021.

Id. at p. 3. According to the report, before he produced the form to ATF SA Hnat:

Palimere decided to write Delaware registration in the box labeled 18.b. Palimere does not know why that was chosen but he knew it had to be an official document and it was all they could think of. Turner was the one who wrote Delaware vehicle registration in the box. Palimere thinks that if Biden presented a vehicle registration on the day of the sale, it would have been documented on the certified 4473.

Id. at p. 4. With respect to annotating box 18.b., the report of Palimere’s interview states:

No one thought to get supplemental information because everyone in the area knows who lives at [the defendant’s father’s address]. The address is a celebrity address. At the time and to Palimere and the employees, the address was obvious. If a second form of identification with an address was presented by Biden, Palimere was not present when it happened.

Id. at p. 2. [my emphasis]

Only, these brain surgeons didn’t include Palimere’s interview 302. Exhibit 2 is, instead, the 302 from a guy named Gordon Cleveland — the guy who sold Hunter the gun. He told the FBI that he thinks Hunter got some kind of additional record, but “can not say with certainty.” But he “would not have paid attention to the paperwork side of the sale” because he had already made the sale.

In other words, the guy who sold Hunter Biden the gun testified that he didn’t much care about the paperwork.

Palimere’s described testimony (that no one bothered getting secondary ID because everyone knew Hunter’s father) is inconsistent with Cleveland’s (who claimed maybe he got the Delaware Registration).

The word “impeach” does not appear in this MIL. Instead, prosecutors complain that Palimere — the guy whose 302 they apparently didn’t provide — is not on trial and Hunter Biden shouldn’t be able to put him on trial.

Palimere is not on trial. Nor does his decision to annotate the Form 4473 years after the defendant bought his gun change anything the defendant did in 2018.

And while David Weiss’ guys are demanding that Hunter not get any extensions, they’re asking for one to clear this up.

1 The defense did not raise this issue until a hearing on May 14 and the government respectfully requests leave to file its motion in limine after the May 13 deadline imposed by the Court.

Meanwhile, Hunter Biden’s team is trying to subpoena these gun shop guys (Palimere, Cleveland), apparently thus far with no success.

Prosecute Hunter Biden, if you must. But for goodness sake, please try to exercise the most basic due diligence before you do so.

Update: David Weiss’ crack team has now submitted the exhibit they wanted to submit, as opposed to the one they did: the 302 from a video teleconference interview with gun shop owner Ronald Palimere. It revealed a number of things:

  1. Palimere has a proffer agreement, seemingly offering a gun shop owner legal protection for failures to fill out gun forms properly so long as his testimony is deemed truthful. In other words, David Weiss is now in the position of prosecuting Hunter for a 5-year old gun crime rather than doing anything about a gun shop owner who fudges on paperwork.
  2. The interview was conducted by Derek Hines and an FBI Agent Erika Jensen, with no second FBI Agent present. Jensen did the follow-up interview with Cleveland, linked above, by herself.  Jensen is the witness through whom prosecutors want to introduce all the digital evidence, which means she’ll have to take the stand and therefore be available for questioning based on these 302s.
  3. Derek Hines told Palimere that Agent Jensen found the discrepancies with the gun form, not Hunter Biden’s lawyers. That’s not a big deal, yet (the FBI is allowed to lie to witnesses), but could become one.
  4. In the filing, Hines relies on Palimere’s testimony to claim that, “For the sale to Biden, all the fields completed on the certified 4473 were done before Biden left the store.” Except he also testified that he, “never interacted with Biden” because he was “in the back of the building.” I assume the store has security cameras, but Palimere is not a direct witness to the documentation being completed while Hunter Biden was present. Jensen didn’t ask Cleveland (who is the witness they want to put on the stand) whether it was all completed while Hunter was still there.

Update: David Weiss has now gotten the DE Clerk to memory hole the Cleveland 302 that substantially conflicts with that of his boss.

Update: Judge Noreika has approved the subpoenas Hunter Biden’s team asked for, including (but not limited to) the gun shop employees, including the guy who altered the document.

Hunter Biden Moves to Enjoin David Weiss Under an Appropriations Argument Trump Adopted

Abbe Lowell has moved to enjoin David Weiss from spending any more unappropriated funds in the prosecution of Hunter Biden.

Mr. Biden moves to enjoin the Special Counsel’s investigation and prosecution of him from now into the future because the Special Counsel lacks a valid appropriation from Congress. Previously, Mr. Biden moved to dismiss the indictment as the tainted fruit of past Appropriations Clause violations (D.E.62). Had that motion been granted, no future violation would have occurred. That said, the Special Counsel insisted dismissal was not the proper remedy and that alleged Appropriations Clause violations “are ‘best seen as requests for injunctions.’” (D.E.72 at 24 (quoting United States v. Bilodeau, 24 F.4th 705, 711 n.6 (1st Cir. 2022)).) Although Mr. Biden preferred dismissal as a remedy (i.e., how could one enjoin past violations?), he did not object to injunctive relief, explaining: “Under either view, this case could not proceed, so it is unclear how the Special Counsel’s preferred remedy would benefit him.” (D.E.80 at 16.) This Court, however, found no Appropriations Clause violation, so it did not reach the question of the appropriate remedy. (D.E.101.) 1

1 At this morning’s hearing, the Court questioned the timeliness of this Motion. As explained above, the Motion is timely because the prior motion to dismiss the indictment was for past Appropriations Clause violations and Mr. Biden now seeks to enjoin future constitutional violations. While the time has passed for Mr. Biden to bring pre-trial motions to dismiss based on the Special Counsel’s past decision to indict, nothing prevents Mr. Biden from seeking to enjoin future constitutional violations. The Special Counsel cannot be given a blank check to indefinitely spend unappropriated federal funds in violation of the Appropriations Clause. The need to explicitly seek injunctive relief did not arise until the Third Circuit Motion Panel’s May 9, 2024 decision dismissed the appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a) because injunctive relief was not explicitly requested, and the Court declined to hear Biden’s claim for relief at law (dismissal) on an interlocutory basis. Parties frequently seek to cure defects identified by opinions, for example, plaintiffs often file amended complaints and prosecutors file superseding indictments following motions to dismiss all the time, and the situation is no different here. Additionally, the prior scheduling order for pre-trial motions were for motions to dismiss. (D.E.57.) The parties clearly understood there were other “pre-trial motions” that would be filed addressing future issues and this Court set a new schedule for addressing some of those issues (D.E.117 (e.g., motions in limine, expert disclosure motion)), and the Special Counsel filing several such motions in limine this morning. The Court has not limited the Special Counsel orMr. Biden’s from objectingto any kind of future conduct.

Lowell is doing so because the Third Circuit order finding that none of Hunter’s appeals merited interlocutory jurisdiction rejected his challenge to Weiss’ Special Counsel appointment (which argued both the appointing a sitting US Attorney SCO violated DOJ’s own rules and also that Weiss’ appointment was not appropriated) in part because Judge Noreika had not formally refused his injunction.

In the defendant’s third motion to dismiss, he argued (1) the prosecuting U.S. Attorney’s appointment as a special counsel violated 28 C.F.R. § 600.3(a)’s requirement that special counsel be “selected from outside the United States Government” and (2) the Special Counsel improperly used an appropriation established by Congress for “independent” counsel without the requisite independence. See United States v. Biden, No. 1:23-cr-00061-001, 2024 WL 1603775 (D. Del. Apr. 12, 2024). The defendant contends the denial of this motion is appealable because it, in effect, refused him an injunction. The District Court did not explicitly refuse to enjoin the continued appointment of the special counsel, nor the continued use of appropriation of funds, nor did the defendant explicitly ask for such an injunction. Furthermore, the defendant has not shown the order has a “serious, perhaps irreparable, consequence” and can be “effect[ually] challenged only by immediate appeal.” See, e.g., Office of the Comm’r of Baseball v. Markell, 579 F.3d 293, 297–98 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Carson v. Am. Brands, Inc., 450 U.S. 79, 84 (1981)). Accordingly, the denial of the defendant’s third motion to dismiss is not an appealable order denying an injunction.

The District Court’s denial of the defendant’s third motion is also not appealable as a collateral order. For collateral-order purposes, the rejection of the defendant’s claim that the Special Counsel’s appointment violated a regulation is analogous to other challenges to a prosecutor’s appointment or authority. Rejection of these challenges do not constitute collateral orders. See Deaver v. United States, 483 U.S. 1301, 1301–03 (1987) (Rehnquist, C.J., in chambers); United States v. Wallach, 870 F.2d 902, 907 (2d Cir. 1989); Deaver v. Seymour, 822 F.2d 66, 70–71 (D.C. Cir. 1987); United States v. Caggiano, 660 F.2d 184, 191 & n.7 (6th Cir. 1981). Moreover, categorically similar issues have been reviewed on appeal after a final or otherwise appealable decision. E.g., Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654, 668, 659 (1988); In re Grand Jury Investigation, 916 F.3d 1047, 1051 (D.C. Cir. 2019); United States v. Blackley, 167 F.3d 543, 545–49 (D.C. Cir. 1999); United States v. Wade, 83 F.3d 196, 197–98 (8th Cir. 1996); United States v. Prueitt, 540 F.2d 995, 999–1003 (9th Cir. 1976); In re Persico, 522 F.2d 41, 44–46 (2d Cir. 1975). Similarly, there is no collateral-order jurisdiction over the District Court’s rejection of the defendant’s appropriation argument and this order can be effectively reviewed after final judgment. E.g., United States v. Trevino, 7 F.4th 414, 420–23 (6th Cir. 2021); cf. United States v. Bilodeau, 24 F.4th 705, 711–12 (1st Cir. 2022) (finding appellant’s injunction request could not be effectively reviewed after final judgment). [my emphasis]

In other words, Lowell asked for this injunction so Noreika would refuse it, giving him a better shot at appeal before the Third Circuit.

I’ve consistently said I think this challenge is garbage — garbage on precedent and garbage on DOJ rules.

I still do — though David Weiss’ persistent efforts to claim he is also, simultaneously, the US Attorney who made deals he has since reneged on with Hunter Biden could make the challenge more interesting down the road. Effectively, David Weiss is claiming to be both SCO and US Attorney, all while hiding discovery US Attorney David Weiss knows to exist.

That said, since Hunter first made this argument, Trump has adopted it (I’ve got a post started comparing these things, but remember that Trump was indicted on the stolen documents case two months before Hunter was indicted on gun crimes, but Hunter’s gun trial is scheduled to be done before any of these frivolous hearings start in Florida) — with backing from right wing luminaries like Ed Meese. And Judge Cannon is so impressed with the garbage argument she has scheduled a hearing on it for June 21.

And Hunter has argued this same (IMO, garbage) argument in Los Angeles and the Ninth Circuit, where precedents for such appeals are somewhat more lenient (which Lowell addressed in a follow-up after the Third Circuit decision).

I’m not saying any of this will work. I think Lowell might be better served asking to make an amicus argument before Judge Cannon, if it’s not too late, if only because that’ll disrupt the political bias with which Cannon has run her courtroom. (Though again, that would do nothing to spare Hunter a trial.) We have long since spun free of actual evidence much less law in all these three Trump appointed judge’s courtrooms.

But Hunter’s continued effort to push this may complicate Cannon’s effort to treat this as a novel right wing argument. It could even — though this is unlikely — create a circuit split long before Cannon gets her show hearing. Or it could confuse the right wingers on SCOTUS.

The SCO challenge, in my opinion, is not interesting at all on the law. But the way in which these two cases are working in parallel on this point in particular makes the effort to better frame an appeal immediately more interesting.

Update: Unsurprisingly, the 9th Circuit — a panel of all Dem appointees — rejected Hunter Biden’s bid for interlocutory appeals of his failed Motions to Dismiss.

David Weiss Continues to Misrepresent the Damage Keith Ablow Did to Hunter Biden’s Addiction

Prosecutors have submitted their motions in limine in the Delaware case. Those include:

Most of these are pretty standard and uncontroversial — though Abbe Lowell made it clear that he reserves the right to contest whether Hunter’s iCloud and laptop had been tampered with before the government obtained them.

Where David Weiss has doubled down on past error comes in his choice of book excerpts he wants to use.

He wants to exclude everything from the book except the excerpts he has chosen.

The government intends to admit into evidence only the excerpts of the book and audiobook that are in Exhibit 1. Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2) provides the statement must be “a statement . . . offered against an opposing party.” Thus, a defendant cannot elicit his own self-serving statements without taking the stand and submitting to cross-examination. United States v. Willis, 759 F.2d 1486, 1501 (11th Cir. 1985); United States v. Wilkerson, 84 F.3d 692, 696 (4th Cir. 1996).

A defendant cannot sidestep the prohibition against hearsay by invoking the so-called “rule of completeness,” contained in Federal Rule of Evidence 106. This rule is designed to prevent “misunderstanding or distortion” caused by the introduction of only part of a statement that could only be cured by admission of the full record. Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey, 488 U.S. 153, 172 (1988). It does not allow adverse parties to introduce any unedited statement merely because the proponent party has offered an edited version. Indeed, “it is often perfectly proper to admit segments of prior testimony without including everything, and adverse parties are not entitled to offer additional segments just because they are there and the proponent has not offered them.” United States v. Collicott, 92 F.3d 973, 983 (9th Cir. 1996). The defendant has not identified for the government any portions of the excerpts that are misleading without additional surrounding context. The other portions of the book are therefore inadmissible hearsay.

The selections are not surprising. But in two ways, they are grotesquely dishonest. First, the chosen excerpts misleadingly lead from something that happened in August 2018.



To something that happened in February 2019.

Presented in the way it is, jurors will be wildly misled that Hunter’s New Haven exploits are what happened immediately after he relapsed in August 2018. They will be misled into believing the description of the New Haven depravity represent Hunter’s state in October 2018. They don’t.

Here’s what the language in the book describing his return to Delaware in fall 2018 looks like.

I had returned that fall of 2018, after my most recent relapse in California, with the hope of getting clean through a new therapy and reconciling with Hallie.

Neither happened.

For all the obvious reasons—my extended disappearances, my inability to stay sober, her need to stabilize and reorder her own life and family—Hallie and I called it quits. The relationship no longer helped either of us. Our attempt to reanimate Beau remained as doomed as it was from the start. The fallout piled up. I tried to explain things to my daughters, but how could I expect them to comprehend a situation I hardly understood myself?

Next on my agenda was getting clean. I drove up to Newburyport, Massachusetts, an old New England shipbuilding-turned-tourist town thirty-five miles north of Boston. A therapist ran a wellness center where he practiced a drug addiction therapy known as ketamine infusion. I would make two trips up there, staying for about six weeks on the first visit, returning to Maryland, then heading back for a couple weeks of follow-up in February of the new year.

Prosecutors were perfectly willing to use the transition into this passage in their response to Hunter’s MTD.

He wrote in Chapter 10 of his memoir, “I returned [to the East Coast] that fall of 2018, after my most recent relapse in California, with the hope of getting clean through a new therapy . . . Neither happened.” Id. at 203.

Perhaps now they’ve discovered that the book says nothing about Hunter’s state of mind when he was in Delaware, when he owned the gun.

More importantly, David Weiss repeats what might have been just another stupid error when he made it in response to Hunter’s motion to dismiss:

For example, the defendant admitted that he was experiencing “full blown addiction” to crack cocaine and by the fall of 2018 he had gotten to the point that:

It was me and a crack pipe in a Super 8, not knowing which the fuck way was up. All my energy revolved around smoking drugs and making arrangements to buy drugs—feeding the beast. To facilitate it, I resurrected the same sleep schedule I’d kept in L.A.: never. There was hardly any mistaking me now for a so-called respectable citizen. Crack is a great leveler.

David Weiss misrepresented this passage to Judge Noreika (and has not alerted her to the error). The scene in the Super 8 took place in February 2019.

Which means it took place after Keith Ablow’s treatment made Hunter Biden’s addiction worse.

The therapy’s results were disastrous. I was in no way ready to process the feelings it unloosed or prompted by reliving past physical and emotional traumas. So I backslid. I did exactly what I’d come to Massachusetts to stop doing. I’d stay clean for a week, break away from the center to meet a connection I found in Rhode Island, smoke up, then return. One thing I did remarkably well during that time was fool people about whether or not I was using. Between trips up there, I even bought clean urine from a dealer in New York to pass drug tests.

Of course, that made all that time and effort ineffective. I didn’t necessarily blame the treatment: I doubt much good comes from doing ketamine while you’re on crack. [my emphasis]

Weiss wants to exclude this critical context, imagining that Hunter included the Keith Ablow description because he knew that right wingers would demand he be prosecuted for the gun when he wrote it (Weiss emphasizes that Hunter started writing this in 2019, before he even knew of the investigation), and so said that the Ketamine treatment made his addiction worse for the moment he would be prosecuted.

I get what self-serving hearsay is. This is not it (though Judge Noreika has thus far been wildly favorable to Weiss’ misrepresentations).

This is basic facts of timeline — or more specifically, Weiss’ continued effort to misrepresent events that clearly happened in February 2019 as if they’re his smoking gun about 2018.

Judge Maryellen Noreika Prepares for a Hunter Biden Trial … without Bates Stamps

A series of decisions came down today in the Hunter Biden gun case that tee up the case for trial starting on June 3.

Those were:

  • A Third Circuit order denying his bid for an interlocutory appeal
  • A scheduling order hewing to the previous schedule to start trial on June 3
  • Judge Maryellen Noreika’s order denying Hunter’s motion to dismiss on Second Amendment grounds
  • Noreika’s order denying all Hunter’s requests for discovery
  • Two oral orders scheduling a status conference to deal with major issues on which the deadline has already passed:

ORAL ORDER: Defendant’s counsel has represented that he is unavailable to appear at the in-person May 10, 2024 status conference set in the Court’s Scheduling Order ( 112 ). Although the government objects to moving the conference, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the status conference is rescheduled for Tuesday May 14, 2024 at 11:00 am in Courtroom 4B. Defendant is not required to attend.

Virtually all of these should be regarded as expected to presumed. For example, while it wasn’t clear whether Noreika would rule on the 2A challenge before trial (Abbe Lowell had invited her not to), she relied on a recent 8th Circuit appeal to deny his motion, which made it far easier.

The Third Circuit appeal was unsurprising, and involved two Democratic appointees, including a judge — Cindy Chung — appointed by Hunter’s father. I think Hunter has a very good argument on a number of these points on appeal, but little basis to argue for interlocutory appeal.

Parts of the discovery order, however, are different. To be sure, many of these were expected. Having denied Hunter’s selective prosecution (while relying on evidence from Rudy Giuliani and falsely attributing it to Hunter’s memoir!!), it’s unsurprising that Noreika denied his discovery requests about Rudy’s role in the side channel that led to the Alexander Smirnov tip and therefore the collapse of the plea deal. It is nearly impossible to get discovery on grand jury proceedings, not even in a courthouse where a key staffer has it out for a defendant’s dad (which Abbe Lowell didn’t mention and may not know), so it’s unsurprising it failed here. Judges generally rely, as Noreika did, on prosecutors’ assurances they have complied with Brady, even in cases where it’s clear that AUSAs have been sheep-dipped so they don’t learn about Brady.

The degree to which David Weiss sat in a courtroom watching prosecutors make claims he knew to be false will all be ripe on appeal. But it’s not now.

Noreika’s order that prosecutors can sandbag Hunter with 404(b) material (describing otherwise incriminating details, which I expect will include an account from a sex worker in California about Hunter having a gun there, and probably other things from his memoir) a week before trial is churlish, but the kind of thing you might expect after you’ve threatened to mandamus a judge. It is totally within her purview, which is why it so risky to attempt to mandamus a judge before trial.

The one decision that surprises me is Noreika’s decision not to order prosecutors to tell Hunter where they’ve gotten evidence from the laptop.

Defendant closes his motion with a request that the government be ordered to “generally point defense counsel” to where, on a forensic image of Defendant’s “Apple MacBook Pro,” certain text and photographs can be located. (D.I. 83 at 18). That forensic image was produced to Defendant in October 2023 without an index, without any Bates stamps and without any indication of what will be used at trial. (Id. at 17). Although the government produced the laptop in the specific format requested by Defendant (D.I. 86 at 19), he complains that he has been unable to locate on the image certain text and photographs relied upon by the government (D.I. 83 at 17-18). In its opposition, the government provides an exhibit with images and annotations that appears to identify where the information resides on the laptop. (See D.I. 86 at Ex. 1). As best the Court can tell, this response satisfied Defendant, and there are no further outstanding requests with respect to the laptop. (See D.I. 89 at 19-20 (recognizing that the government has no index and expressing appreciation for the government’s disclosure of location of information)). Therefore, Defendant’s request as applied to the Apple MacBook Pro appears moot.

Given that Noreika has relied on laptop-derived evidence while ruling that Rudy didn’t have any influence in this case, this alarms me.

For reasons I don’t understand, after threatening to file a motion to suppress the laptop, Abbe Lowell has not done so. But the admissions Derek Hines made so far make it clear he has already relied on material that may violate US v. Riley not to mention material that will be ripe for other evidentiary challenges. And that came before the Robert Savage lawsuit made it clear this investigation has been tainted by fabricated evidence.

The decision not to move to suppress laptop evidence is Abbe Lowell’s. I can’t pretend to understand that choice.

Nevertheless, if prosecutors try to rely on laptop-based evidence, as they did extensively in defeating Hunter’s motion to dismiss, the decision to let prosecutors proceed without Bates stamps seems wildly ill-considered — all the more so given that they relied on evidence that arguably should have been treated as privileged and claimed sawdust was cocaine.

At the very least, it’ll dramatically raise the import of expert disclosure, which hasn’t even started, because someone from Hunter’s team and from the government team are going to have to argue at trial about whether every bit of evidence is reliable or is, instead, potentially the result of hacking. And it risks bogging down the trial. Thus far, the government hasn’t committed — at all!! — to have someone testify about why someone allegedly called John Paul Mac Issac to find out how to break into the machine before they had a warrant, about why they never took basic forensic steps with the laptop. If they intend to rely on laptop based evidence without Bates stamps, it will dramatically intensify any effort to admit this evidence.

Like I said, almost all of these decisions could be expected. They tee up a trial that will be enormously damaging to the President’s son.

But they also lay out decisions that I believe are incredibly ripe for appeal … after trial.

Update: Judge Mark Scarsi has denied David Weiss’ demand that Scarsi make Hunter adhere to the existing pretrial schedule. Hunter’s bid for interlocutory appeal is slightly less of a longshot in the 9th Circuit, though threatens to hold Hunter to existing deadlines.

To be clear, the Court has not vacated the pretrial schedule, and absent a request for relief, Mr. Biden ignores the Court’s orders at his own peril. If the Ninth Circuit dismisses the interlocutory appeal for lack of jurisdiction, the Court intends to proceed to trial without significant delay.

Brett Kavanaugh Thinks that Jack Smith Is as Crazy as Ken Starr Was

There was a subtle moment in yesterday’s SCOTUS hearing on Trump’s absolute immunity claim.

Former Whitewater prosecutor Brett Kavanaugh asked Michael Dreeben whether DOJ had weighed in on this prosecution.

Did the President weigh in? he asked. The Attorney General?

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: As you’ve indicated, this case has huge implications for the presidency, for the future of the presidency, for the future of the country, in my view. You’ve referred to the Department a few times as having supported the position. Who in the Department? Is it the president, the attorney general?

MR. DREEBEN: The Solicitor General of the United States. Part of the way in which the special counsel functions is as a component of the Department of Justice.

The regulations envision that we reach out and consult. And on a question of this magnitude, that involves equities that are far beyond this prosecution, as the questions of the Court have —

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: So it’s the solicitor general?


Having been told that Jack Smith consulted with a Senate-confirmed DOJ official on these tough issues, Kavanaugh immediately launched into a screed about Morrison v. Olson, the circuit court decision that upheld the Independent Counsel statute.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: Okay. Second, like Justice Gorsuch, I’m not focused on the here and now of this case. I’m very concerned about the future. And I think one of the Court’s biggest mistakes was Morrison versus Olson.

MR. DREEBEN: Mm-hmm.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: I think that was a terrible decision for the presidency and for the country. And not because there were bad people who were independent counsels, but President Reagan’s administration, President Bush’s administration, President Clinton’s administration were really hampered —


JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: — in their view —

MR. DREEBEN: Mm-hmm.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: — all three, by the independent counsel structure. And what I’m worried about here is that that was kind of let’s relax Article II a bit for the needs of the moment. And I’m worried about the similar kind of situation applying here. That was a prosecutor investigating a president in each of those circumstances. And someone picked from the opposite party, the current president and — usually —

MR. DREEBEN: Mm-hmm.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: — was how it worked. And Justice Scalia wrote that the — the fairness of a process must be adjudged on the basis of what it permits to happen —

Kavanaugh slipped here, and described the horror of “Presidents,” not former Presidents, routinely being subject to investigation going forward.

MR. DREEBEN: Mm-hmm.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: — not what it produced in a particular case. You’ve emphasized many times regularity, the Department of Justice. And he said: And I think this applied to the independent counsel system, and it could apply if presidents are routinely subject to investigation going forward. “One thing is certain, however. It involves investigating and perhaps prosecuting a particular individual. Can one imagine a less equitable manner of fulfilling the executive responsibility to investigate and prosecute? What would the reaction be if, in an area not covered by this statute, the Justice Department posted a public notice inviting applicants to assist in an investigation and possible prosecution of a certain prominent person? Does this not invite what Justice Jackson described as picking the man and then searching the law books or putting investigators to work to pin some offense on him? To be sure, the investigation must relate to the area of criminal offense” specified by the statute, “but that has often been and nothing prevents it from being very broad.” I paraphrased at the end because it was referring to the judges.

MR. DREEBEN: Mm-hmm. Yes.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: That’s the concern going forward, is that the — the system will — when former presidents are subject to prosecution and the history of Morrison versus Olson tells us it’s not going to stop. It’s going to — it’s going to cycle back and be used against the current president or the next president or — and the next president and the next president after that. All that, I want you to try to allay that concern. Why is this not Morrison v. Olson redux if we agree with you? [my emphasis]

Kavanaugh pretended, as he and others did throughout, that he wasn’t really suggesting this was a case of Morrison v. Olson redux; he was just talking hypothetically about the future.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: Right. No, I was just saying this is kind of the mirror image of that, is one way someone could perceive it, but I take your point about the different structural protections internally. And like Justice Scalia said, let me — I do not mean to suggest anything of the sort in the present case. I’m not talking about the present case. So I’m talking about the future.

This intervention came long after Kavanaugh suggested that charging Trump with defrauding the US for submitting fake election certificates and charging Trump with obstructing the vote certification after first charging hundreds of others with the same statute amounted to “creative” lawyering.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: Okay. For other official acts that the president may take that are not within that exclusive power, assume for the sake of argument this question that there’s not blanket immunity for those official acts but that to preserve the separation of powers, to provide fair notice, to make sure Congress has thought about this, that Congress has to speak clearly to criminalize official acts of the president by a specific reference. That seems to be what the OLC opinions suggest — I know you have a little bit of a disagreement with that — and what this Court’s cases also suggest.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: Well, it’s — isn’t — it’s a serious constitutional question whether a statute can be applied to the president’s official acts. So wouldn’t you always interpret the statute not to apply to the president, even under your formulation, unless Congress had spoken with some clarity?

MR. DREEBEN: I don’t think — I don’t think across the board that a serious constitutional question exists on applying any criminal statute to the president.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: The problem is the vague statute, you know, obstruction and 371, conspiracy to defraud the United States, can be used against a lot of presidential activities historically with a — a creative prosecutor who wants to go after a president.

But Kavanaugh returned to his insinuation that it was a stretch to prosecute a political candidate for submitting false certificates to Congress and the Archives under 18 USC 371 after his purported complaint about Morrison v. Olson.

Second, another point, you said talking about the criminal statutes, it’s very easy to characterize presidential actions as false or misleading under vague statutes. So President Lyndon Johnson, statements about the Vietnam War —

MR. DREEBEN: Mm-hmm.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: — say something’s false, turns out to be false that he says about the Vietnam War, 371 prosecution —


JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: — after he leaves office?

None of this intervention made any sense; it wouldn’t even have made sense if offered by someone who hadn’t criminalized an abusive, yet consensual, blowjob for years.

After all, contrary to the demands of many, Merrick Garland didn’t appoint a Special Counsel until Trump declared himself a candidate. By that point, hundreds of people had already been charged under 18 USC 1512(c)(2) and DOJ was at least four months into Executive Privilege fights over testimony from Mike Pence’s aides and Trump’s White House counsel. Jack Smith was appointed nine months after Lisa Monaco publicly confirmed that DOJ was investigating the fake electors and six months after overt subpoenas focused on the scheme came out (to say nothing of the treatment of Rudy Giuliani’s phones starting a year earlier).

This is not a Morrison v. Olson issue.

Rather, Kavanaugh is using his well-established hatred for Morrison v. Olson to complain that Trump was investigated at all — and that, after such time that a conflict arose, Garland appointed a non-partisan figure to head the already mature investigation.

It was one of many examples yesterday where the aggrieved white men on the court vomited up false claims made by Trump.

Kavanaugh made no mention of the appointment of Robert Hur — not just a Republican but a Trump appointee who had deprived Andy McCabe of due process — to investigate Joe Biden for precisely the same crime for which Trump was charged. That’ll become pertinent at such time as Donald Trump’s claim to Jack Smith’s appointment gets to SCOTUS. After all, in that case, Trump will have been similarly treated as Joe Biden. In that case, Hur’s distinction between Biden’s actions and Trump’s should (but probably won’t) reassure the right wing Justices that Trump was not selectively prosecuted.

Speaking of things Kavanaugh didn’t mention, his false complaint — and which Clarence Thomas raised as well — comes at a curious time.

Because of Aileen Cannon’s dawdling, Trump’s challenge to Jack Smith’s appointment won’t get to SCOTUS for months, if ever.

But Hunter Biden, whose challenge to David Weiss’ appointment takes the same novel form as Trump’s — an appropriations clause challenge — may be before the Third Circuit as soon as next week. In a passage of Abbe Lowell’s response to Weiss’ demand that the Third Circuit give Lowell, an observant Jew, three days including Passover to establish jurisdiction for his interlocutory appeal, Lowell scolded Weiss for presuming to know the basis of his appeals.

The Special Counsel boasts that it prepared its motion in “two days” (Mot.Exped.3), but the legal errors that permeate its motion to dismiss only underscore why more time is needed to adequately research and thoughtfully brief the jurisdictional issues for this Court. The Special Counsel ignores numerous bases for jurisdiction (e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291 (collateral order doctrine), 1292(a)(1) (denial of Appropriations Clause injunction), and 1651 (mandamus)) over this appeal, and the legal claims it does make are flatly wrong, compare Mot.6 (falsely claiming “all Circuit Courts” reject reviewing denials of motions to enforce plea agreements as collateral orders), with United States v. Morales, 465 F. App’x 734, 736 (9th Cir. 2012) (“We also have jurisdiction over interlocutory appeals of orders denying a motion to dismiss an indictment on the ground that it was filed in breach of a plea agreement.”)

In addition to mandamus (suggesting they may either attack Judge Noreika’s immunity decision directly or ask the Third Circuit to order Delaware’s Probation Department to approve the diversion agreement that would give Hunter Biden immunity), Lowell also invoked an Appropriations clause injunction — basically an argument that Weiss is spending money he should not be.

Normally, this would never work and it’s unlikely to work here.

But even on the SCO challenge, there are a number of problems in addition to Lowell’s original complaint: that Weiss was appointed in violation of the rules requiring someone outside of DOJ to fill the role.

For example Weiss keeps claiming to be both US Attorney and Special Counsel at the same time (most obviously in claiming that tolling agreements signed as US Attorney were still valid as Special Counsel), or the newly evident fact that Weiss asked for Special Counsel status so that he could revisit a lead he was ordered to investigate — in the wake of Trump’s complaints to Bill Barr that Hunter Biden wasn’t being investigated diligently enough — back in 2020, a lead that incorporated Joe as well as Hunter Biden, a lead that uncovered an attempt to frame Joe Biden, an attempt to frame Joe Biden to which Weiss is a witness.

The oddities of Weiss’ investigation of Joe Biden’s son may even offer another claim that the right wing Justices claim to want to review. Jack Smith claims to have found only two or three charges with which Kavanaugh, who insists (former) Presidents can only be charged under statutes that formally apply to Presidents, would leave available to charge a President. But there’s one he missed: 26 USC 7217, which specifically prohibits the President from ordering up a tax investigation into someone, which Lowell invoked in his selective and vindictive prosecution claim. Lowell has not yet proven that Trump directly ordered tax officials, as opposed to Bill Barr and other top DOJ officials, to investigate Hunter Biden for tax crimes. But there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that Trump pushed such an investigation. Certainly, statutes of limitation on Trump’s documented 2020 intrusions on the Hunter Biden investigation have not yet expired.

The Hunter Biden investigation has all the trappings of a politicized investigation that Kavanaugh claims to worry about — and with the Alexander Smirnov lead, it included Joe Biden, the Morisson v. Olson problem he claims to loathe.

That’s a made to order opportunity for Brett Kavanaugh to restrict such Special Counsel investigations.

Except, of course, it involves Democrats.

Maryellen Noreika Never Answered Mark Scarsi’s Question

As I laid out in this post, Judge Maryellen Noreika’s opinion denying Hunter Biden’s bid for immunity under his diversion agreement provided new insight on the nature of her intervention at the July 26, 2023 plea hearing, and her attempt to refashion that intervention after the fact. Among other things, I showed:

  • Judge Noreika provided several indications that she knew, during the hearing, that Probation head Margaret Bray had refused to sign the diversion agreement before the hearing. Given the logistics as described by AUSA Benjamin Wallace, her knowledge of that fact almost certainly had to come from conversations between Bray and Noreika in advance of the plea hearing, and as such, Bray’s refusal to sign the agreement may amount to proxy refusal from Judge Noreika, who was not a party to the agreement.
  • Bray’s discussion with Wallace (which, if Bray refused to sign the diversion agreement at Noreika’s direction, would amount to ex parte communication between the judge and prosecution) created information asymmetry in the hearing. When Leo Wise made comments about the diversion only going into effect once Bray (or Noreika, as he once misspoke) signed it, Hunter’s team had no way to know that that discussion was only happening because of Bray’s earlier refusal. When Wallace piped up to affirm Judge Noreika’s question about the clause under which she should review the plea, Hunter’s team had no way of knowing that his assent may have reflected ex parte knowledge of Noreika’s concerns about how the plea and diversion agreements worked together.
  • Contrary to her portrayal of the hearing in her opinion, Noreika’s intervention in the diversion agreement preceded the moment when Leo Wise “appeared to revoke” the deal. The deal collapsed, temporally at least, first because of her intervention and only subsequently because her intervention gave Wise opportunity to renege on the scope of the immunity agreement.
  • Judge Noreika still claims to have a veto over the substance of the diversion agreement, a contract to which she is not a party.
  • After intervening based on a claim that Hunter’s immunity wasn’t as broad as he understood, her opinion ruled that even though none of the parties to the diversion agreement disputes that it would cover at least gun, tax, and drug crimes, she nevertheless ruled the immunity grant was too uncertain to be applicable to gun, tax, and drug crimes.

Given the assertions and omissions in Noreika’s opinion, Hunter Biden may have a plausible argument that she did precisely what she claimed she feared: unconstitutionally intervened in a prosecutorial decision that David Weiss had already committed himself to.

Noreika’s opinion puts her actions that day at issue, every bit as much as Weiss’ subsequent actions are.

That makes the disparate treatment that Judge Noreika and Judge Scarsi gave to Hunter’s selective and vindictive prosecution claim important.

To be sure, both opinions are supposed to be addressing different things, two different prosecutorial decisions. And both opinions, at least at times, artificially limit their consideration to developments after that failed plea.

Nevertheless, even after ruling (before he would rule again) that Abbe Lowell had not procedurally presented his case, Scarsi engaged in a laudable point by point treatment of Hunter Biden’s claims.

As a result, the two judges took a dramatically different approach to Hunter’s claim that Republican members of Congress had attempted to intervene in his criminal case directly. The longer version of that argument from Abbe Lowell, presented before Judge Noreika, looks like this:

Then on July 25, just one day before Mr. Biden’s scheduled plea hearing, Chairman Smith actually tried to intervene in this case to file an amicus curiae brief “in Aid of Plea Hearing” (United States v. Biden, D.E. 7, No. 23-mj-00274-MN), in which, with no shame about doing real political interference while complaining about non-existent involvement by others, he encouraged the Court to “consider” the unfounded allegations by the IRS agent whistleblowers that the probe into Mr. Biden was tainted by political interference and attaching transcripts of their testimony (which contained confidential taxpayer and grand jury information) on the public docket. (D.E. 7-3 (Smith Memo) (“[T]he Defendant appears to have benefited from political interference which calls into question the propriety of the investigation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office . . . it is critical that the Court consider the Whistleblower Materials before determining whether to accept the Plea Agreement.”).) 25

In Scarsi’s response to a shorter version of this argument, which was posted before Judge Noreika ruled, he raised the question of whether Judge Noreika had considered Jason Smith’s attempt to intervene in the case.

On June 23, 2023, the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives voted to publicly disclose congressional testimony from the IRS agents who worked on the tax investigation. Jason Smith, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, told reporters that the agents were “[w]histleblowers [who] describe how the Biden Justice Department intervened and overstepped in a campaign to protect the son of Joe Biden by delaying, divulging and denying an ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden’s alleged tax crimes.” Farnoush Amiri, GOP releases testimony alleging DOJ interference in Hunter Biden tax case, PBS NewsHour (June 23, 2023, 3:58 p.m.), One day before the plea hearing in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, Mr. Smith moved to file an amicus curiae brief imploring the court to consider the IRS agents’ testimony and related materials in accepting or rejecting the plea agreement. Mem. of Law in Support of Mot. for Leave to File Amicus Curiae Br., United States v. Biden, No. 1:23-mj-00274-MN (D. Del. July 25, 2023), ECF No. 7-2; Amicus Curiae Br., United States v. Biden, No. 1:23-mj-00274-MN (D. Del. July 25, 2023), ECF No. 7-3.30

29 This source does not stand for the proposition that several leaders of house committees “opened a joint investigation.” (Selective Prosecution Mot. 6.)

30 The docket does not show that the Delaware district court resolved the motion, and the Court is uncertain whether the court considered Mr. Smith’s brief.


After the plea hearing, Mr. Smith told Fox News, “I think that justice is being served,” Jason Smith on Hunter Biden plea deal collapse: Justice is being served, Fox News (July 26, 2023, 7:01 p.m.), []. [my emphasis]

As I noted in this post, Scarsi actually over-read what Abbe Lowell argued here. Lowell only argued that the amicus was proof that Jason Smith attempted to intervene, not that Judge Noreika had considered his amicus.

Meanwhile, Scarsi applies a measure — whether Judge Noreika considered Smith’s amicus, not whether he tried to file it — that Lowell doesn’t make (and which is irrelevant to a vindictive prosecution motion, because Noreika is not the prosecutor); Smith did succeed in getting the amicus unsealed, including the exhibits that Hunter claimed include grand jury materials. Whether or not Judge Noreika considered the content of the amicus, that Smith filed it is undeniable proof that Smith tried to intervene, which is all Hunter alleged he did.

Scarsi, by contrast, raised the question — again, before Judge Noreika ruled — of whether Judge Noreika considered Jason Smith’s plea to scotch the plea deal before she intervened in a contract to which she was not a party. Judge Scarsi raised the question of whether Smith had succeeded in intervening, with Noreika.

Noreika, who offered no indication she had reviewed Scarsi’s selective prosecution language (though his opinion on this topic was in the same omnibus ruling she cited on the diversion agreement), didn’t answer that question. Instead, in her selective and vindictive prosecution opinion, she simply dismissed the bulk of that claim with one paragraph.

In attempting to show discriminatory purpose, Defendant points to past and recent statements made by former President Trump, alleged conduct of one of the former president’s personal attorneys (Rudy Giuliani) and a purported criticism and pressure campaign by Congressional Republicans. (See id. at 27-37). None of this evidence, however, is relevant to any alleged discriminatory purpose in this case. The charging decision at issue here – from 2023 – did not occur when the former president was in office. Nor did it occur when Mr. Giuliani was purportedly trying to uncover “dirt” about Defendant and presenting that information to U.S. Attorneys across the country. (See id. at 30). And the pressure campaign from Congressional Republicans may have occurred around the time that the Special Counsel decided to move forward with indictment instead of pretrial diversion, but the Court has been given nothing credible to suggest that the conduct of those lawmakers (or anyone else) had any impact whatsoever on the Special Counsel. It is all speculation. [my emphasis]

Noreika does three things in this passage (besides ignoring Bill Barr’s intervention last year, which is pertinent to her silence about Alexander Smirnov). First, she treats Rudy’s intervention as contested (even while falsely claiming Hunter had described his gun purchase in his memoir, when instead he only did so in text messages, published by NYPost, that Rudy obtained from Hunter’s hard drive). She did so even in spite of Lowell’s submission of Scott Brady’s transcript, detailing Rudy’s intervention, as a supplemental authority.

Generally, as she does elsewhere, she fails to do what she claimed to do, to consider “the prosecution’s decision to abandon the Plea and Diversion Agreement framework.” Her description of David Weiss as “Special Counsel” is the tell here: she’s dating Weiss’ actions to a date, August 11, that postdates the first steps of abandoning the diversion. And she’s explicitly focused on the indictment, not the abandonment, even though she claims to be considering the abandonment.

Having fiddled with the timing, she then — astoundingly — questions whether and when a pressure campaign from Congress happened! Noreika here cites Lowell’s later discussion of Congressional intervention, not the earlier factual background discussion for the entire motion that mentions Smith’s filing to her own docket specifically.

Given Noreika’s own apparent veto of a contract between prosecutors and Hunter Biden, Noreika’s treatment of Lowell’s separation of powers is more interesting.

At the end of his selective- and vindictive-prosecution arguments, Defendant argues that his prosecution also violates the separation of powers. (See D.I. 63 at 54-60). The gist of Defendant’s argument is that the Legislative Branch has failed to respect the prosecutorial discretion vested in the Executive Branch and instead attempted to usurp that authority. (Id.). In particular, Defendant claims that many members of Congress “are actively interfering with DOJ’s investigation” and conducting “a criminal investigation of private conduct by a private citizen” – i.e., Defendant. (Id. at 58). He goes so far as to assert that these Legislative Branch officials “have overcome Special Counsel Weiss’s independent judgment” and, even further, those officials are the reason that pretrial diversion was abandoned in favor of indictment. (Id.). Defendant’s separation-of-powers argument is not credible.

As an initial matter, Defendant never disputes that the Executive Branch holds the ultimate power to prosecute in his case and that that branch of government is headed by his father. And Defendant does not actually accuse the Legislative Branch of successfully encroaching on or usurping the Executive Branch’s power. Indeed, Defendant’s argument is more subtle and nuanced; he alleges that the Legislative Branch is exerting pressure on the Special Counsel, purportedly causing him to make charging decisions that he would not otherwise make simply because members of Congress are unhappy. Yet members of the Legislative Branch pressuring Executive Branch officials or the Special Counsel to act is fundamentally different than actually making charging decisions or influencing them. And, apart from Defendant’s finger-pointing and speculation, the Court has been given no evidence to support a finding that anyone other than the Special Counsel, as part of the Executive Branch, is responsible for the decision to indict Defendant in this case instead of continuing to pursue pretrial diversion. There is thus no basis to find a violation of the separation of powers under the facts here.

I think the two judges’ opinions that Lowell’s separation of powers argument has no basis in precedent is absolutely right. But Noreika’s treatment of it here is far more suspect given her own description that she intervened in a contract to prevent David Weiss from entering into a contract that limited his prosecutorial authorities. If Noreika thereby usurped Weiss’ authority, then this whole focus on whether Congress influenced Weiss is misplaced.

The question becomes whether Congress influenced her.

And in spite of the fact that Judge Scarsi specifically raised the question of whether Noreika had considered Jason Smith’s intervention, Noreika didn’t answer that question. Instead, her treatment of Lowell’s interference claim — the facts meant to apply to the entire selective and vindictive motion to dismiss — instead entirely dodges the uncontested fact that Smith attempted to intervene with her.

On July 19, 2023, Margaret Bray recommended Hunter Biden for diversion. On July 20, at least per Benjamin Wallace, Probation “agreed to revisions to the diversion agreement to more closely match the conditions of pretrial release that Probation recommended in the pretrial services report issued yesterday.”

Neither judge has addressed why that doesn’t amount to approval to the extent Bray has authority over the diversion. Scarsi simply rewrote Probation’s agreement out of his opinion. Noreika simply dismissed its import.

More importantly, no one explained what happened between July 20 and July 26 such that Bray declined to approve the diversion agreement she had approved six days earlier. What changed?

One thing that changed was the intervention of Congress with Judge Noreika.

Judge Maryellen Noreika’s Unconstitutional Concerns about Unconstitutional Concerns

On April 12, the same day that Judge Maryellen Noreika finally issued her opinions rejecting Hunter Biden’s motions to dismiss based on immunity and selective and vindictive prosecution, Hunter filed a notice of interlocutory appeal of all of Scarsi’s opinions. My Hunter Biden page has been updated to reflect these developments.

I think, but am not certain, that the notice of appeal came after Noreika released her opinions, and so might be a response to it.

It’s unclear what basis Lowell believes he has for an interlocutory appeal. At the initial appearance, Judge Scarsi had instructed Abbe Lowell to brief whether he could file such an appeal for the diversion agreement, which Lowell failed to do in his motions to dismiss. One possibility is that Lowell plans to argue that Delaware, as the first filed case, should have ruled first. He argued this in a February motion to continue the similar filings.

“[W]hen cases between the same parties raising the same issues are pending in two or more federal districts, the forum of the first-filed action should generally be favored.” Heieck v. Federal Signal Corp., 2019 WL 1883895, at *2 (C.D. Cal., Mar. 11, 2019). This approach maximizes judicial economy, avoids the possibility of inconsistent judgments, and minimizes any unnecessary burden on the two Courts’ or the parties’ resources.

If that’s the case, however, the facial similarity of the two diversion agreement opinions might doom an appeal that would be extremely unlikely to work anyway. Both judges ruled that because Probation did not sign the diversion agreement, it was not in place and so Hunter got no immunity from it. The rulings are not inconsistent on their key point (though are in other key ways).

That said, even though neither side formally called attention to Judge Scarsi’s rulings, Judge Noreika noted it in a really confusing footnote.

5 This Court recognizes that, relying largely on California and Ninth Circuit law, the judge overseeing tax charges brought against Defendant in the Central District of California decided that Probation’s approval is “a condition precedent to performance, not to formation,” and that the absence of Probation’s approval means that “performance of the Government’s agreement not to prosecute Defendant is not yet due.” United States v. Biden, No. 2:23-cr-00599-MCS-1, 2024 WL 1432468, at *8 & *10 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 1, 2024). Neither of those issues nor that law was raised by the parties before this Court.

I don’t know what “law” she’s referring to — possibly the Ninth Circuit precedent Scarsi relied on? If that’s the case, then she would be affirming precisely the problem Lowell pointed out: by relying on different precedents, Scarsi has created inconsistency in the judgments.

But she’s flat out wrong that the government’s arguments about whether Probation’s signature was a condition precedent to the formation or the performance of the diversion agreement; it was central to the government’s response.

Applying contract law principles, the approval of U.S. Probation was a condition precedent to the formation of the contract. “A condition may be either a condition precedent to the formation of a contract or a condition precedent to performance under an existing contract.” W & G Seaford Assocs. v. Eastern Shore Mkts., Inc., 714 F.Supp. 1336, 1340 (D.Del.1989) (citing J. Calamari & J. Perillo, Contracts § 11–5, at 440 (3d ed.1987)); Williston on Contracts §38.4. “In the former situations, the contract itself does not exist unless and until the condition occurs.” Id.; Willison on Contracts § 38.7.

There is a bigger difference between the two opinions, though: how they understand Probation’s decision not to sign the plea. As I’ve noted, Scarsi effectively rewrote one of the exhibits he relied on to claim that Probation was not part of revisions to the diversion agreement. As I’ll show, Noreika does not deny that Probation was a part of those revisions, but nevertheless, with no explanation, held that Probation didn’t approve the agreement.

And that’s important because Noreika doesn’t explain her own intervention in the approval of the diversion agreement, effectively intervening in a prosecutorial decision, a problem I pointed out in this post. Indeed, the opinion is consistent with Margaret Bray refusing to sign the diversion agreement because of some interaction Bray had with Judge Noreika before the hearing.

Before I explain why, let me emphasize, Hunter Biden is well and truly fucked. What I’m about to say is unlikely to matter, and if it does, it’s likely only to matter after two judges who seem predisposed against Hunter make evidentiary decisions that will increase the political cost of two trials, if and when juries convict Hunter, and after those same judges rule on whether Hunter can remain out on pretrial release pending the appeal of this mess, which Scarsi, especially, is unlikely to do. Worse still, after I laid out all the ways Judge Scarsi had made his own opinion vulnerable on appeal, he ruled against Abbe Lowell’s attempt to certify all the evidence Scarsi said had not come in properly. Scarsi is using procedural reasons to protect his own failures in his opinions. He’s entitled to do so; he’s the judge! So what I’m about to write does not change the fact that Joe Biden’s son is well and truly fucked.

Judge Noreika refashions her intervention in the plea hearing

In his omnibus ruling on Hunter’s motions to dismiss, Judge Scarsi only cited the plea hearing transcript six times, entirely focused on the end of the discussion (the Xs describe who is being quoted in the citation).

The parties submitted the Plea Agreement and the Diversion Agreement to United States District Judge Maryellen Noreika in advance of a scheduled July 26, 2023, Initial Appearance and Plea Hearing. (See Machala Decl. Ex. 1 (“Del. Hr’g Tr.”), ECF No. 25-2.) At the hearing, after questioning Defendant and the parties, the District Court Judge expressed concerns regarding both Defendant’s understanding of the scope of the immunity offered by the Diversion Agreement and the appropriateness of the District Court’s role in resolving disputes under the Diversion Agreement. (Del. Hr’g Tr. 103–08.) The District Court Judge asked the parties to rework the agreements and provide additional briefing regarding the appropriate role of the District Court in resolving disputes under the Diversion Agreement. (Id.) At the hearing, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty to the tax charges then pending in Delaware. (Id. at 109.)


6 This observation begs a question regarding another provision, the parties’ agreement that the United States District Court for the District of Delaware would play an adjudicative role in any alleged material breach of the agreement by Defendant. (Diversion Agreement § II(14).) The judge overseeing the action in Delaware questioned whether it was appropriate for her to play this role. (Del. Hr’g Tr. 92–104.) The Court is uncertain as to whether the parties understood the Probation Officer also to have a role in approving the breach-adjudication plan in her capacity as an agent of the court. See 18 U.S.C. § 3602. But these issues need not be resolved to adjudicate the motion.


On July 26, 2023, the district judge in Delaware deferred accepting Defendant’s plea so the parties could resolve concerns raised at the plea hearing. (See generally Del. Hr’g Tr. 108–09.)

By contrast, Judge Noreika cited her own hearing transcript 33 times: 24 times in her background section, four times in her sua sponte section deeming the extent of Hunter’s immunity uncertain, three times in a sua sponte section that intruded on the Executive’s prosecutorial function where she said it would be unconstitutional to intrude on the Executive’s prosecutorial function, and twice more in a section misrepresenting the focus of Hunter’s judicial estoppel argument. 21 of her citations were substantially to her own comments in the hearing.

The degree to which this opinion makes claims about what Noreika actually did at the plea hearing matters. Not only does Noreika fluff the nature of her own intervention, but her discussion left out critical discussion about the nature of approvals required for the diversion agreement (including but not limited to those marked in blue above). That includes five complaints about the fact that she was not asked to sign the diversion agreement and a key intervention in which she expressed an opinion on the scope of the authority for Margaret Bray to intervene in the diversion agreement.

Additionally, in one place, she misrepresented the transcript in a way that minimized her own intervention.

That is, Noreika used her own opinion to refashion the intervention she made in the plea hearing.

The last example — when she misrepresented the transcript — is instructive. As noted, though neither side made this argument, Noreika nevertheless spent 2.5 pages arguing that the scope of the immunity grant in the diversion agreement was not sufficiently clear to be contractually enforceable. In it, she claimed that the uncertainty over the scope of the immunity, and not her own intervention, was the only reason the plea collapsed, a claim she carries over to the selective and vindictive prosecution opinion.

Then, she declined to accept Chris Clark’s oral modification of the immunity provision to include just gun, tax, and drug crimes.

Pressing the parties on their respective understandings of what conduct was protected by the immunity from prosecution led to a collapse of the agreement in court. (D.I. 16 at 54:10-55:22).

Apparently acknowledging that the immunity provision as initially drafted was not sufficiently definite, the parties attempted to revise the scope of the immunity conferred by the Division Agreement orally at the July 2023 hearing. (See D.I. 16 at 57:19-24 (“I think there was some space between us and at this point, we are prepared to agree with the government that the scope of paragraph 15 relates to the specific areas of federal crimes that are discussed in the statement of facts which in general and broadly relate to gun possession, tax issues, and drug use.”)). The Court recognizes that Delaware law permits oral modifications to contracts even where the contract explicitly provides that modifications must be in signed writings, as the Diversion Agreement did here. (See D.I. 24, Ex. 1 ¶ 19 (“No future modifications of or additions to this Agreement, in whole or in part, shall be valid unless they are set forth in writing and signed by the United States, Biden and Biden’s counsel.”)). That being said, although the government asserted that that oral modification was binding (D.I. 16 at 89:9-14), the Court has never been presented with modified language to replace the immunity provision found in Paragraph 15. [my emphasis]

This is a nutty argument to begin with: Neither side is arguing that gun crimes were not included in the diversion immunity (to which elsewhere she limits her review); neither is even arguing there was uncertainty as to the application of immunity to tax and drug crimes. The only uncertainty pertained to FARA (and that only because — as Noreika herself described it, Leo Wise “revoked” a signed agreement).

This discussion is especially problematic because, elsewhere, she left out a crucial part of her own invitation to clarify the immunity language, which the opinion describes this way:

The Court also suggested that the parties clarify the scope of any immunity conferred by the immunity provision of the Diversion Agreement. (Id. at 105:16-22).

Noreika’s reference to the government’s assertion that Chris Clark orally modified the scope of immunity by agreeing to limit it to tax, guns, and drugs pertains to this comment from Leo Wise:

Obviously this paragraph has been orally modified by counsel for Mr. Biden and we would — I’m not going to attempt to paraphrase it. I don’t want to make the record muddy. The statement by counsel is obviously as Your Honor acknowledged a modification of this provision, and that we believe is binding.

Importantly, when Noreika invited the parties to clarify the diversion scope (claiming all the while she was not trying to tell the parties how to negotiate), she treated the Clark comment as having been orally modified.

you might, though I’m not trying to tell you how to negotiate the Diversion Agreement, you might fix that one paragraph that you have orally modified today.

At the hearing, Noreika treated the diversion scope as orally modified, but in this opinion she not only omits mention that she did so, but she suggests that because the parties didn’t modify the contract about prosecution declination to her liking, then it is not binding.

She’s claiming to have no role in the drafting process, and then she’s demanding changes in the contract that she already said had been adopted, a contract in which she repeatedly says would be unconstitutional for her to intervene.

The logistics of the asymmetric knowledge of Margaret Bray’s non signature

All this matters because of something else: Judge Noreika’s opinion exhibits knowledge of something to which she was not a witness. It arises from the logistics from that plea hearing.

As I noted, while claiming he was ruling on the diversion agreement as an unambiguous contract, Judge Scarsi nevertheless relied on extrinsic evidence — a declaration from AUSA Benjamin Wallace. Before Wallace submitted the declaration before Judge Scarsi, Wallace withdrew his appearance before Judge Noreika, in a letter signed as a Delaware AUSA reporting to US Attorney David Weiss, someone who is no longer before that docket.

Given that Wallace referred to final agreements four times as drafts in the declaration, it deserves close scrutiny.

In it, Wallace described that before Judge Noreika took the bench and while Chris Clark and Leo Wise were signing the plea agreement and diversion agreement on July 26, he told Margaret Bray that she could soon sign the diversion agreement. According to Wallace, she “expressly declined to sign the draft diversion agreement.”

3. Before the District Judge took the bench, the parties signed the draft plea agreement in No. 23-mj-274 and the draft diversion agreement in No. 23-cr-61. Leo J. Wise, Special Assistant United States Attorney, signed on behalf of the government. Mr. Biden and his attorney, Christopher J. Clark, signed on behalf of Mr. Biden.

4. While Mr. Biden, Mr. Clark, and Mr. Wise were signing the two agreements, I approached the Chief United States Probation Officer for the District of Delaware, Margaret M. Bray, to tell her that the draft diversion agreement would be ready for her signature shortly. Ms. Bray expressly declined to sign the draft diversion agreement.

In the Los Angeles motions hearing, Abbe Lowell suggested there was something funny about this timing and asked a more important question: Why the head of Probation was not the one submitting the declaration.

MR. LOWELL: It probably — well, it matters in the following way. If what was happening was questions were being raised, and that’s why she didn’t do it, or for any other reason, after she manifested her agreement in what she sent to the court on July 20th or what the Government said, then it probably doesn’t matter.

I don’t think it really matters why at that moment and when it doesn’t — when it happened. I’m just saying that I think the sequence of what happened on July the 26th is murky, at best.

And I’d like to have Ms. Bray be the one to give a declaration, not somebody else that talks about what happened and when it happened and why it happened. I was there, so it would be good if the person who did it, did it. But that’s not what they submitted.

But Noreika’s opinion makes it clear why the timing and substance matters — and why Margaret Bray, the person that both Noreika and Scarsi have ruled effectively vetoed this agreement by not signing it, should have been the one submitting a declaration.

Assuming Wallace’s description of the timing is correct — that this happened while Clark and Wise were busy signing the documents themselves and before Judge Noreika entered the courtroom — then it would create an asymmetry of knowledge among the participants in the hearing. Bray, who never spoke at the hearing, would know she had refused to sign. Wallace would know and therefore did know when he made his single comment at the hearing: agreeing that if the immunity language had been included in the plea agreement rather than the diversion agreement, it would change the rule under which Judge Noreika was reviewing the plea agreement.

THE COURT: And if it were included in the Memorandum of Plea Agreement, would that make this plea agreement one pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(A)?

MR. WALLACE: It would.

Did Wallace make this comment because of something Bray told him before the hearing? Importantly, Noreika relies on this assent to use her own uncertainty about the proper clause under which to consider the plea to replace authority to alter the diversion. That is, Noreika effectively used Wallace’s assent to suggest she had the authority to draft the diversion agreement. If he learned that Noreika had a concern about that clause from Bray, it would amount to an ex parte communication between the prosecution and the judge.

Over the course of the hearing — most notably, between the time Leo Wise made a comment about the limits of Probation’s involvement and the time when Wise said the diversion agreement would only go into effect after Bray signed it — Wallace could have shared that knowledge with the other prosecutors. That is, it is possible but uncertain whether prosecutors used this asymmetric knowledge to get out of the plea deal.

But Hunter Biden’s team would never know this occurred, which is consistent with Chris Clark’s repeated statements that he believed Probation had already approved the diversion, which Weiss’ team did not dispute.

And, because all this happened before she took the bench, Judge Noreika should not have known that Ms. Bray refused to sign it. She should not have known it, that is, unless she and Margaret Bray had discussions before the hearing about Bray not signing the agreement.

If they did, then Bray’s failure to sign the diversion agreement would effectively serve as a proxy disapproval from Judge Noreika. It would amount to Judge Noreika, who is neither a party to this agreement nor someone authorized to approve or disapprove it, vetoing the agreement by instructing Bray not to sign it.

Noreika exhibited knowledge of Bray’s lack of signature

There are three times in Noreika’s opinion where she exhibits some knowledge that Bray had not signed that diversion agreement before the hearing.

First, in her treatment of Hunter’s half-hearted attempt to claim that judicial estoppel prevents the prosecution from had not started yet, she described believing at the time and still believing that the government did not believe the diversion period started until Bray signed the agreement.

As the Court understood that statement at the time, the government’s position was that the diversion period did not begin to run until Probation’s approval was given – approval to be indicated by a signature on the Diversion Agreement itself. That is, the Diversion Agreement would not become effective until approval through signature was given. That continues to be the Court’s understanding today.

Having such a belief at the time would only make sense if she knew the diversion had not yet been signed and, given the logistics, that would seemingly require having known before Bray told Wallace she would not sign it.

In her section rejecting Hunter’s argument that by recommending Hunter for diversion on July 19 and then, along with the parties, tweaking the diversion agreement, Noreika offered no reason why she was unpersuaded that Bray had indicated her assent by participating in those changes, something about which her courtroom deputy received emails.

Defendant nevertheless suggests that Probation’s approval may be implied from the fact that Probation recommended pretrial diversion and suggested revisions to the proposed agreement before the July 2023 hearing. (D.I. 60 at 18-19). The Court disagrees. That Defendant was recommended as a candidate for a pretrial diversion program does not evidence Probation’s approval of the particular Diversion Agreement the parties ultimately proposed. Probation recommended that Defendant was of the type of criminal defendant who may be offered pretrial diversion and also recommended several conditions that Probation thought appropriate. (D.I. 60, Ex. S at Pages 8-9 of 9). That is fundamentally different than Probation approving the Diversion Agreement currently in dispute before the Court. And as to Probation’s purported assent to revisions to the Diversion Agreement (D.I. 60, Ex. T at Page 2 of 28), Defendant has failed to convince the Court that the actions described can or should take the place of a signature required by the final version of an agreement, particularly when the parties execute the signature page. Ultimately, the Court finds that Probation did not approve the Diversion Agreement. [my emphasis]

Importantly, Noreika does not address the scope via which Probation, having already approved the parts they would oversee, could reject this deal.

But the most important evidence that Judge Noreika knew of something during the hearing to which she was not a direct witness was a question she posed — invoking the first person plural — suggesting that Probation should not approve the deal.

THE COURT: All right. Now, I want to talk a little bit about this agreement not to prosecute. The agreement not to prosecute includes — is in the gun case, but it also includes crimes related to the tax case. So we looked through a bunch of diversion agreements that we have access to and we couldn’t find anything that had anything similar to that.

So let me first ask, do you have any precedent for agreeing not to prosecute crimes that have nothing to do with the case or the charges being diverted?

MR. WISE: I’m not aware of any, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Do you have any authority that says that that’s appropriate and that the probation officer should agree to that as terms, or the chief of probation should agree to that as terms of a Diversion Agreement?

MR. WISE: Your Honor, I believe that this is a bilateral agreement between the parties that the parties view in their best interest. I don’t believe that the role of probation would include weighing whether the benefit of the bargain is valid or not from the perspective of the United States or the Defendant. (46)

Not only did Noreika suggest that some collective “we” had been reviewing diversion agreements together, but she suggested Bray could still reject the deal based on the scope of David Weiss’ prosecutorial decision. She suggested Bray could dictate to Weiss how much he could include in a declination statement.

This is precisely the kind of usurpation of the Executive’s authority that Noreika said would be unconstitutional. Which was precisely Leo Wise’s response: he responded that Bray did not have the authority to opine that the parties had entered into a contract that did not sufficiently protect the interests of the United States.

Shortly after that exchange, Judge Noreika started complaining that she was not asked to sign the diversion agreement.

I think what I’m concerned about here is that you seem to be asking for the inclusion of the Court in this agreement, yet you’re telling me that I don’t have any role in it, and you’re leaving provisions of the plea agreement out and putting them into an agreement that you are not asking me to sign off on. (50)


But then it would be a plea under Rule (c)(1)(A) if the provision that you have put in the Diversion Agreement which you do not have anyplace for me to sign and it is not in my purview under the statute to sign, you put that provision over there. So I am concerned that you’re taking provisions out of the agreement, of a plea agreement that would normally be in there. So can you — I don’t really understand why that is. (51)


All right. Now I have reviewed the case law and I have reviewed the statute and I had understood that the decision to offer the defendant, any defendant a pretrial diversion rest squarely with the prosecutor and consistent with that, you all have told me repeatedly that’s a separate agreement, there is no place for me to sign off on it, and as I think I mentioned earlier, usually I don’t see those agreements. But you all did send it to me and as we’ve discussed, some of it seems like it could be relevant to the plea. (92)


THE COURT: First it got my attention because you keep telling me that I have no role, I shouldn’t be reading this thing, I shouldn’t be concerned about what’s in these provisions, but you have agreed that I will do that, but you didn’t ask me for sign off, so do you have any precedent for that? (94)


What’s funny to me is you put me right smack in the middle of the Diversion Agreement that I should have no role in, you plop meet [sic] right in there and then on the thing that I would normally have the ability to sign off on or look at in the context of a Plea Agreement, you just take it out and you say Your Honor, don’t pay any attention to that provision not to prosecute because we put it in an agreement that’s beyond your ability. (104)

The first two of these citations — the ones that precede Leo Wise’s “revocation” of the plea deal — are not mentioned in Noreika’s opinion. The other three are invoked several times in references to the transcript (including three of the references made by Judge Scarsi), but in none of those references does Noreika admit she was demanding the authority to sign off on the diversion agreement. 

The Court pressed the government on the propriety of requiring the Court to first determine whether Defendant had breached the Diversion Agreement before the government could bring charges – effectively making the Court a gatekeeper of prosecutorial discretion. (D.I. 16 at 92:22-95:17).


The parties attempted to analogize the breach procedure to a violation of supervised release, but the Court was left with unanswered questions about the constitutionality of the breach provision, leaving open the possibility that the parties could modify the provision to address the Court’s concerns. (Id. at 102:5-106:2).

She presented these demands to sign off on the diversion agreement as the exact opposite of what they were: a concern that she would be usurping the role of prosecutors if the diversion went into effect, when in fact she was concerned that she wasn’t being given opportunity to veto prosecutors’ non-prosecution decision.

Notably, Judge Noreika mentions Chris Clark’s failure to object after Leo Wise (after such time as Wallace could have told him that Bray did not sign the diversion agreement) said the agreement would go into effect when Probation signed it.

4 Although not part of the Court’s decision, the Court finds it noteworthy that the government clearly stated at the hearing that “approval” meant “when the probation officer . . . signs it” and Defendant offered no objection or correction to this. (D.I. 16 at 83:13-17 & 90:13-15).

She doesn’t mention her own failure to correct Wise when he said she could sign the diversion agreement.

I think practically how this would work, Your Honor, is if Your Honor takes the plea and signs the Diversion Agreement which is what puts it into force as of today, and at some point in the future we were to bring charges that the Defendant thought were encompassed by the factual statement in the Diversion Agreement or the factual statement in the Plea Agreement, they could move to dismiss those charges on the grounds that we had contractually agreed not to bring charges encompassed within the factual statement of the Diversion Agreement or the factual statement of the tax charges.

This doesn’t prove that Judge Noreika asked Margaret Bray not to sign the diversion before Bray told Wallace she would not sign it. But it does show that Noreika thought one of the two of them, either she or Bray, should have the power to veto a prosecutorial decision.

And Judge Noreika refashions her intervention in the plea hearing to obscure that point.

Noreika shifts her demands for sign-off power

As noted, even in spite of her minute order that reflects she deferred agreement on both the plea agreement and the diversion agreement in which it would be unconstitutional for her to intervene, Noreika suggests that the plea fell apart only because of the dispute about immunity that started after she had already intervened in signing authority.

She does ultimately deal with her demands — in a section reserving veto authority over the diversion agreement based on her authority to dictate public policy to prosecutors!

In a truly astonishing section, Noreika applies contract law about a diversion she claims, with no basis, has been made part of the plea deal and uses it to claim she could veto a prosecutorial decision.

Contractual provisions that are against public policy are void. See Lincoln Nat. Life Ins. Co. v. Joseph Schlanger 2006 Ins. Tr., 28 A.3d 436, 441 (Del. 2011) (“[C]ontracts that offend public policy or harm the public are deemed void, as opposed to voidable.”). “[P]ublic policy may be determined from consideration of the federal and state constitutions, the laws, the decisions of the courts, and the course of administration.” Sann v. Renal Care Centers Corp., No. 94A-10-001, 1995 WL 161458, at *5 (Del. Super. Ct. Mar. 28, 1995). Embedded in the Diversion Agreement’s breach procedure is a judicial restriction of prosecutorial discretion that may run afoul of the separation of powers ensured by the Constitution. See, e.g., United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 693 (1974) (“[T]he Executive Branch has exclusive authority and absolute discretion to decide whether to prosecute a case . . . .”); United States v. Wright, 913 F.3d 364, 374 (3d Cir. 2019) (“[A] court’s power to preclude a prosecution is limited by the separation of powers and, specifically, the Executive’s law-enforcement and prosecutorial prerogative.”).

At the hearing in July 2023, the Court expressed concern over the breach provision of the Diversion Agreement and the role the parties were attempting to force onto the Court.8 (See D.I. 16 at 92:12-98:19). In the Court’s view, the parties were attempting to contractually place upon the Judicial Branch a threshold question that would constrain the prosecutorial discretion of the Executive Branch as to the current Defendant. As the government admitted, even if there were a breach, no charges could be pursued against Defendant without the Court first holding a hearing and making a determination that a breach had occurred. (Id. at 94:10-15). If the Court did not agree to follow the procedure, no charges could be pursued against Defendant. (Id. at 94:16-20). Mindful of the clear directive that prosecutorial discretion is exclusively the province of the Executive Branch, the Court was (and still is) troubled by this provision and its restraint of prosecutorial decisions. Although the parties suggested that they could modify this provision to address the Court’s concerns (id. at 103:18-22), no language was offered at the hearing or at any time later. And no legal defense of the Diversion Agreement’s breach provision has been provided to the Court – the deals fell apart before any supplemental briefing was received.

Even if the Court were to find the Diversion Agreement was approved by Probation as required and the scope of immunity granted sufficiently definite, the Court would still have questions as to the validity of this contract in light of the breach provision in Paragraph 14. To be clear, the Court is not deciding that the proposed breach provision of Paragraph 14 is (or is not) constitutional. Doing so is unnecessary given that the Diversion Agreement never went into effect. The Court simply notes that, if the Diversion Agreement had become effective, the concerns about the constitutionality of making this trial court a gatekeeper of prosecutorial discretion remain unanswered. And because there is no severability provision recited in the contract, more would be needed for the Court to be able to determine whether this provision could properly remain in the Diversion Agreement and whether the contract could survive should the Court find it unconstitutional or refuse to agree to serve as gatekeeper.

This entire opinion is rife with examples where Judge Noreika placed herself in a contract to which she was never a party, effectively dictating what David Weiss could include in a prosecutorial declination. But she claims she’s doing the opposite, not snooping into a contract that should only be before her for its immunity agreement, but instead protecting prosecutors’ ability to renege on a declination decision.

I will leave it to the lawyers to make sense of the legal claims here.

But there’s a procedural one that Noreika overlooks.

As noted here, Scarsi’s ruling that the diversion agreement remains binding on the parties conflicts with Noreika’s claim that the problem here is that no one briefed her to placate her complaints.

There are other places where Scarsi’s ruling and Noreika’s conflict — specifically about Probation’s involvement in revisions to the terms that Probation actually governs. But if Scarsi is right, than Noreika’s order withdrawing the briefing order was withdrawn improperly.

Alexander Smirnov Goes Missing — from Judge Noreika’s Opinions

The name Alexander Smirnov appears in neither Judge Maryellen Noreika’s opinion rejecting Hunter Biden’s immunity nor her opinion rejecting his selective and vindictive prosecution claim. Whereas it appears that Judge Mark Scarsi believes that Smirnov is not before him at all, Lowell did raise Smirnov — whose arrest postdated the reply brief deadline before Noreika and so couldn’t have been included in motions filings in Delaware — as an additional authority for his selective and vindictive claim.

The detail matters because of the way Noreika handled the two motions, which she treated as related by relying on the facts laid out in her immunity opinion in her selective prosecution opinion, even though her position in those two opinions is slightly different.

For the selective prosecution opinion, Noreika used Abbe Lowell’s request, in his reply brief, that she focus on David Weiss’ decision to abandon the plea and diversion agreement, an approach she adopted.

Defendant’s motion sets forth a winding story of years of IRS investigations, Congressional inquiries and accusations of improper influence from Legislative Branch and Executive Branch officials within the prior administration, including former President Trump himself. (See D.I. 63 at 4-20). Yet, as Defendant explains in reply, his selective  and vindictive prosecution claims are focused on “the prosecution’s decision to abandon the Plea and Diversion Agreement framework it had signed in response to ever mounting criticism and to instead bring this felony indictment.” (D.I. 81 at 2 n.1). That decision occurred in the summer of 2023. Any allegation of selective or vindictive prosecution stemming from the IRS investigations or prior administration officials or any conduct that preceded this past summer appears largely irrelevant to the present motions. Moreover, the only charges at issue in this case are firearm charges  — Defendant’s financial affairs or tax-related charges (or investigations thereof) also appear irrelevant. Thus, the only charging decision the Court must view through the selective and vindictive prosecution lens is Special Counsel David Weiss’s decision to no longer pursue pretrial diversion and instead indict Defendant on three felony firearm charges.

But Noreika’s treatment of when the decision occurred is fuzzy. In one place she describes that it happened in summer 2023, which could include everything from June 21, 2023 on (the day after the diversion and plea were published).

Defendant claims that the Special Counsel’s decision to abandon pretrial diversion and indict Defendant on the three felony firearm charges in this case is presumptively vindictive. (See D.I. 81 at 2 n.1). Because that decision occurred in the summer of 2023, his complaints about original charging decisions (or lack thereof) in this case are irrelevant, as are charging decisions for the unrelated tax offenses being pursued in another venue. Yet even as to the Special Counsel’s decision to indict after failing to reach agreement on pretrial diversion, Defendant fails to identify any right that he was lawfully exercising that prompted the government to retaliate. [my emphasis]

Her temporal argument doesn’t seem to support the point she uses it for: That Weiss’ decision to change his mind means that what he changed it from, “are irrelevant” (this is particularly important given how she treats the dispute over immunity).

Elsewhere, she treats the entirety of the decision to be after the failed plea hearing.

Defendant has made clear, however, that his selective prosecution claim is focused on the decision to abandon pretrial diversion and pursue indictment on the three felony firearm charges – a decision that occurred after the Court’s hearing in July 2023. (See D.I. 81 at 2 n.1). [my emphasis]

It’s not remotely clear how she adopted this timeframe. But by doing so, she excluded from her consideration things that clearly were part of abandoning the existing plea deal, most notably reneging on the full extent of the immunity. (She also excluded from her consideration her own role in the process, which as I’ll show, she makes a good case was unconstitutional.)

She did so even while describing that “the government appeared to revoke the deal” when Hunter Biden insisted on the terms of immunity that had been negotiated in June.

Having received contradictory sworn statements about Defendant’s reliance on immunity, the Court proceeded to inquire about the scope of any immunity. At this point, it became apparent that the parties had different views as to the scope of the immunity provision in the Diversion Agreement. In the government’s view, it could not bring tax evasion charges based on the conduct set forth in the Plea Agreement, nor could it bring firearm charges based on the particular firearm identified in the Diversion Agreement, but unrelated charges – e.g., under the Foreign Agents Registration Act – were permissible. (D.I. 16 at 54:13-55:9). Defendant disagreed. (Id. at 55:17-18). At that point, the government appeared to revoke the deal (id. at 55:22) and proceedings were again recessed to allow the parties to confer in light of their fundamental misunderstanding as to the scope of immunity conferred by the Diversion Agreement (id. at 57:1-7). The hearing resumed, with Defendant’s attorney again reversing position and explaining to the Court that the immunity provision covered only federal crimes related to “gun possession, tax issues, and drug use.” (Id. at 57:23-24).

For reasons I’ll explain in a follow-up, Noreika sua sponte conducted a lengthy discussion of the scope of immunity. But just that observation that the government “appeared to revoke” the terms of the deal, paired with the uncontested claims that Hunter had been assured there was no ongoing investigation on June 19, should make Weiss’ decision to chase the Smirnov claims central.

Noreika also claimed that by adopting Lowell’s framework about how the deal was abandoned, it put the actions of all Trump’s officials out of play.

Yet, as was the case with selective prosecution, the relevant point in time is when the prosecutor decided to no longer pursue pretrial diversion and instead indict Defendant. Whether former administration officials harbored actual animus towards Defendant at some point in the past is therefore irrelevant. This is especially true where, as here, the Court has been given no evidence or indication that any of these individuals (whether filled with animus or not) have successfully influenced Special Counsel Weiss or his team in the decision to indict Defendant in this case. At best, Defendant has generically alleged that individuals from the prior administration were or are targeting him (or his father) and therefore his prosecution here must be vindictive. The problem with this argument is that the charging decision at issue was made during this administration – by Special Counsel Weiss – at a time when the head of the Executive Branch prosecuting Defendant is Defendant’s father. Defendant has offered nothing credible to support a finding that anyone who played a role in the decision to abandon pretrial diversion and move forward with indictment here harbored any animus towards Defendant. Any claim of vindictive prosecution based on actual vindictiveness must fail.

Except it shouldn’t. Lowell cited Barr’s intervention in the FD-1023 discussion in his original motion to dismiss, intervention that happened between the time Weiss agreed to a deal and the time he started reneging on the immunity he had offered. The Brady side channel was a central part of Lowell’s argument about the selective prosecution role of Trump’s officials.

Plus, Noreika’s silence about Smirnov matters because Noreika invests a whole lot of energy in prosecutors’ claims that they couldn’t be retaliating against Hunter Biden because Hunter’s father runs the Executive Branch.

To the extent that Defendant’s claim that he is being selectively prosecuted rests solely on him being the son of the sitting President, that claim is belied by the facts. The Executive Branch that charged Defendant is headed by that sitting President – Defendant’s father. The Attorney General heading the DOJ was appointed by and reports to Defendant’s father. And that Attorney General appointed the Special Counsel who made the challenged charging decision in this case – while Defendant’s father was still the sitting President. Defendant’s claim is effectively that his own father targeted him for being his son, a claim that is nonsensical under the facts here. Regardless of whether Congressional Republicans attempted to influence the Executive Branch, there is no evidence that they were successful in doing so and, in any event, the Executive Branch prosecuting Defendant was at all relevant times (and still is) headed by Defendant’s father.

This entire argument fails if, as the available evidence suggests, David Weiss asked for Special Counsel status to pursue a bribery investigation into Hunter and his father. Once you include the Smirnov claims, Joe Biden is the subject of the investigation, an investigation that was only made possible by reneging on the immunity agreement.

Judge Noreika clearly stated that the government appeared to revoke the deal based on Hunter’s statement about immunity. If that’s right, then Smirnov has to be central to her considerations. Instead, she ignored him.