WASHINGTON: Half of Americans believe US president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, received preferential treatment from prosecutors who reached a deal that would allow the younger Biden to plead guilty to tax charges but avoid a gun-related conviction, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.
The two-day poll that closed yesterday showed Americans were divided along partisan lines in their views on the case, with 75% of Republicans seeing preferential treatment compared with just 33% of Democrats.
Most respondents said the case would not affect their likelihood of voting for the elder Biden next year when he is seeking re-election.
US attorney David Weiss, a federal prosecutor appointed by Republican former president Donald Trump, said on Tuesday that Hunter Biden, 53, has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanour charges of willfully failing to pay income taxes and to enter into an agreement that could avert a conviction on a gun-related charge.
Trump and his Republican allies charged that the plea agreement amounted to special treatment for Biden’s son.
Weiss was one of a few Trump-appointed prosecutors that Biden asked to stay on after he took office in January 2021, to avoid the appearance of tampering in politically sensitive investigations.
The younger Biden has worked as a lobbyist, lawyer, consultant to foreign companies, investment banker and artist, and has publicly detailed his struggles with substance abuse.
He will make an initial appearance in federal court in Delaware on July 26, a court filing showed yesterday.
According to court filings, Hunter Biden received taxable income of more than US$1.5 million in 2017 and in 2018 but did not pay income tax those years despite owing in excess of US$100,000.
He is also charged with unlawfully owning a firearm from roughly Oct 12 to Oct 23, 2018, when he was using and addicted to a controlled substance.
For that charge, he entered a pretrial diversion agreement, an alternative to prosecution that is sometimes used to allow defendants to avoid prison time or a criminal conviction.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,004 US adults nationwide and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about four percentage points.