Prosecutor’s Ties to Biden Family Friend Raise Concerns in Hunter Biden Case
A prosecutor on the team that struck a sweetheart deal with Hunter Biden worked just years ago for a longtime Biden family friend who did business with the embattled first son, raising potential concerns about an investigation that has already been marred by whistleblower allegations of political favoritism.
Derek Hines, a special assistant U.S. attorney on the Hunter Biden case, was special counsel to former FBI director Louis Freeh at Freeh’s private consulting firm from August 2013 to February 2015, according to Hines’s LinkedIn profile. Freeh has extensive ties to the Biden family. He was recruited by Hunter Biden in 2016 to help a Romanian businessman fight bribery charges in Europe. That same year, Freeh gave $100,000 to a college trust for two of Joe Biden’s grandchildren, according to emails from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop. Freeh said that he looked forward to “future work” with Hunter Biden and that he had discussed “future work options” with then-vice president Biden. Freeh later joined the board of the Beau Biden Foundation, named for the president’s late son.
Hines now serves as special assistant to U.S. attorney David Weiss, according to court filings in Biden’s case. Weiss, the federal prosecutor in Delaware, announced Tuesday that Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax crimes for failure to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018. Biden is also charged with one count of felony gun possession, though he will enter a diversionary program that will likely keep him out of jail. Republicans blasted what they called a sweetheart deal handed down by the Biden Justice Department.
Potential Bias in Investigation
Hines’s past work for a Biden family friend could raise questions about the investigation into the younger Biden. Weiss’s office reportedly investigated Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, though it appears that Biden will not be charged with any crimes related to that activity. Government whistleblowers have raised concerns that the Justice Department pulled punches in the Biden probe for political reasons. A veteran IRS investigator has claimed that Justice Department headquarters slow-walked the investigation into Biden’s unpaid taxes.
House Republicans are investigating Biden’s foreign ventures, including his work for Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian real estate magnate who faced investigations in Europe for bribery.
Beginning in 2015, Popoviciu wired at least $1 million to Hunter Biden, according to a recent report from the House Oversight Committee. Biden met multiple times with the former U.S. ambassador to Romania to discuss Popoviciu, though he did not register that work under federal lobbying laws. Emails from Biden’s laptop show that Freeh conducted private investigations to help Popoviciu’s case. Freeh said he had contacts with the FBI, the State Department, and Romania’s anti-corruption bureau.
According to his emails, Hunter Biden first contacted Freeh about Popoviciu on June 18, 2016.
“Time is of the essence and my client has never balked at bringing whatever team it takes together at whatever cost to obtain justice,” Biden wrote.
Freeh quickly took up the Popoviciu case. According to a July 8, 2016, email, Freeh told Biden that he “had conversations with the head of the FBI’s Criminal Division” regarding Popoviciu.
It is unclear whether Hines interacted with Biden when he worked for Freeh. The U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware declined comment. The Justice Department and Freeh did not respond to requests for comment.
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