An Arkansas judge issued a scathing order Tuesday evening largely rejecting Hunter Biden's "duplicitous" requests and his argument that he needed a nine-month delay in his paternity case proceedings because of the coronavirus outbreak and other personal matters.
But soon afterward, the parties said they had reached a "global, final settlement of all issues" -- a surprising turn of events that still needs the court's approval. The abrupt about-face, if approved by Independence County Circuit Court Judge Holly Meyer, would mean that Biden would not need to turn over a slew of financial information to the court.
Republicans have said the information could contain damaging evidence of the younger Biden's overseas business dealings and possible corruption in a presidential election year. Hunter is the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, now the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Saying Biden has already been "given considerable leniency regarding continuances and delay," Meyer ruled it was unreasonable for Biden to cite his wife's pregnancy to call for another delay. The pregnancy, Meyer noted, was "well known to all when the date of March 13, 2020 for a hearing in Arkansas was agreed upon by the defense and set by the Court."
Additionally, the judge said that ongoing media attention in the matter wasn't a good excuse, given that such attention "will continue" because of Biden's public profile. Further, in response to the claim that the coronavirus merited a delay, Meyer observed that "no health threat specific to the defendant has been identified" and said that "life and work will and should continue in our communities and our courts."
In sum, "the nine month continuance requested is excessive," Meyer wrote.
"The best interest of the child that is at the center of this matter is served by a swift and timely adjudication of the questions of facts and law relevant to the support issue which is the crux of this case," Meyer wrote. "The defendant's attempts to delay this case are mounting such that one begins to see a pattern of delay."
Meyer concluded: "The defendant's deposition on March 11-12, 2020 shall not be continued or delayed. The proposed further delay in the defendant's deposition, the discovery disagreements, the requests for continuance, and the duplicitous requests for protective orders all seem to point to a pattern of difficulty in this matter which only serves to underline the serious need for a hearing in this matter."
Meyer agreed with Biden that the plaintiff's notice of deposition was technically untimely, but declined to delay the proceedings more than a day as a result.
Hours later, Clinton Lancaster, the attorney for the plaintiff in the case, 28-year-old Lunden Alexis Roberts, wrote to the judge that there had been a breakthrough -- and that money was apparently involved.
"The defendant's attempts to delay this case are mounting such that one begins to see a pattern of delay."
"Late last night, after the Court entered the order, we reached a global, final settlement of all issues," Lancaster wrote. He offered to submit a proposed order to the court immediately.
"Please submit the Order for the Court's approval as soon as possible," wrote back court clerk Melissa Anderson. "Judge Meyer will require the child support to comply with Administrative Order Rule 10. The hearing is still on until the Court receives and approves the settlement."
That order requires judges to review financial documents indicating income, taxes, and other matters to determine the appropriate amount of child support. A settlement among parties is generally insufficient without such a review by the judge.
Biden has already agreed to pay an undisclosed monthly amount of child support, retroactive to November 2018. That agreement came only after Meyer threatened to hold him in contempt, and led to a brief suspension in contempt proceedings.
However, Meyer emphasized that she still had "insufficient" documentation to determine Biden's financial capacity to support the child, and that Arkansas law requires the court to assure adequate funding for the child.
"After months of hiding, one has to wonder if the reason Hunter Biden continues to defy the court is because there are financial documents that could shed light on his father’s massive conflicts of interest as vice president," Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesman Steve Guest told Fox News on Sunday.
The New York Times reported last week that the 50-year-old Hunter Biden is spending his time attempting to pass himself off as a painter in a rented $12,000-per-month hideout in Hollywood Hills while driving a Porsche.
The paternity case established that Hunter Biden was the father of Roberts' baby after a DNA test. Roberts had argued that Biden was essentially an absent father, and the younger Biden had repeatedly denied paternity until the DNA test.