Hunter Biden to plead not guilty to gun charges

03 Oct 2023 01:56pm
US President Joe Biden's son Hunter is to appear in federal court in Delaware - FILE PIX
US President Joe Biden's son Hunter is to appear in federal court in Delaware - FILE PIX

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden's son Hunter is to appear in federal court in Delaware on Tuesday and is expected to plead not guilty to charges of illegally possessing a handgun.

Hunter Biden, 53, is facing three felony charges stemming from his 2018 purchase of a.38-caliber Colt Cobra revolver.

Biden is charged with two counts of making false statements for claiming on forms required for the gun purchase that he was not using drugs illegally at the time.

He faces a third charge, based on the same statements, that he illegally possessed the gun -- which he had for only 11 days in October 2018 -- before it was gotten rid of.

Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has informed the court that the president's son plans to plead not guilty at Tuesday's 10:00 am (1400 GMT) arraignment at a federal courthouse in Wilmington, the hometown of the Bidens.

Lowell had also asked Judge Christopher Burke to allow Biden, who lives in California, to appear by video instead of in person but the request was denied.

"The defendant should not receive any special treatment in this matter," Burke wrote in his ruling.

In July, a deal with federal prosecutor David Weiss -- which would have erased the gun charges while Biden pleaded guilty to two tax charges and avoided prison -- fell apart.

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That led to Weiss filing the three felony gun possession charges against Biden.

If convicted, Biden could in theory face 25 years in prison, though in practice such offenses, if not accompanied by other charges, are seldom punished by any jail time.

- Possible tax charges -

Weiss, who was elevated to special counsel for the Biden probe after the plea deal fell through, in the meantime has signaled that he is still investigating Biden on possible tax charges.

Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine and China while his father was vice president under Barack Obama have been a constant target of Republicans.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, bowing to pressure from the party's hard right, authorized the launch last month of an impeachment investigation into the president.

The younger Biden has not been charged with any crimes related to his foreign business dealings, however, and no credible evidence has emerged so far that his father was involved in anything illegal.

Hunter Biden is a Yale-trained lawyer and lobbyist-turned-artist, but his life has been marred by alcoholism and crack cocaine addiction. His legal woes threaten to cast a shadow over his father's campaign for reelection next year.

The 80-year-old president has stood firmly by his only surviving son throughout his personal and legal struggles, saying in an interview earlier this year that Hunter has "done nothing wrong." "I trust him. I have faith in him," Joe Biden said. - AFP