Hunter Biden faces gun charges | News, sports, jobs

WASHINGTON — Hunter Biden was indicted Thursday on federal firearms charges, the latest step in a long-running investigation into the president’s son that puts the case on track toward a potential high-stakes trial as the 2024 election approaches.

Biden is accused of lying about his drug use when he purchased a firearm in October 2018, a period in which he admitted to suffering from cocaine addiction, according to the indictment filed in federal court in Delaware by a special counsel overseeing the case.

The indictment comes weeks after the collapse of a plea deal that would have avoided a criminal trial and distracted President Joe Biden.

The legal battle is unlikely to end soon. Hunter Biden’s defense attorney says he did not violate the law and remains protected under an immunity clause that was part of the plea deal. Meanwhile, charges are rarely brought as standalone charges, and a federal appeals court recently found the procedure under which the charges were brought to be unconstitutional.

He has also been under investigation for his business dealings, and the special counsel has indicated that tax charges could be filed at some point in Washington or California, where he lives.

The legal controversy comes at a time when a political battle is also taking place. The House of Representatives has officially opened an impeachment inquiry into the Democratic president, seeking to link the elder Biden to his son’s actions and divert attention away from former President Donald Trump’s legal troubles. They include federal indictments against Trump over handling classified documents and efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

Republicans have so far discovered no concrete evidence of wrongdoing by Biden Sr., who as vice president frequently spoke with his son and stopped at business dinners with his son’s associates. The White House confirms that Joe Biden was not involved in his son’s business affairs.

Republicans criticized the plea agreement that spared Hunter Biden from prison as a “sweetheart deal.” Rep. James Comer, the lead Republican pursuing the impeachment inquiry, called the gun charges “a very small start” and called for an investigation into whether the president was involved in his son’s business dealings. Trump also noted there was no connection to Joe Biden in the plea agreement on gun charges.

Federal prosecutors investigating Hunter Biden have not indicated that Joe Biden is connected over the course of their years-long investigation. The lead prosecutor, US Attorney for Delaware David Weiss, who was appointed by Trump, was promoted to special counsel last month, giving him broad authority to investigate and report on his findings.

The three-count indictment filed Thursday alleges that Hunter Biden lied on the form required for every gun purchase when he purchased a .38-caliber Colt Cobra Special shotgun at a gun store in Wilmington, Delaware.

He was charged with two counts of making false statements, one for checking a box falsely saying he was not a drug addict and the second for giving it to the store to get their federally required records. A third charge alleged that he carried the gun for approximately 11 days despite knowing he was a drug user.

These charges are punishable by up to 25 years in prison if convicted, though “actual penalties for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum sentence,” a Justice Department statement from VICE said.

The felony gun charge against Hunter Biden, 53, was part of a plea deal that also included guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges related to failing to pay taxes on about $4 million in income in 2017 and 2018.

Under the terms, he would not have pleaded guilty to the gun charge, and prosecutors would have agreed to dismiss the charge if he stayed out of trouble for two years. But the agreement collapsed during a court hearing in July when a judge raised questions about it.

Defense attorney Abby Lowell said part of the deal, which included immunity provisions against other potential charges, remains in place.

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