Hunter Biden Found Guilty on Gun Charges

Hunter Biden Found Guilty on Gun Charges

For the first time, a sitting President’s son has been convicted of a felony in a criminal trial.

A federal jury in Delaware on Tuesday found Hunter Biden guilty for lying about his drug use when buying a gun in 2018. Prosecutors had presented the jury with photos, testimony and messages that showed Biden had a .38 caliber Colt Cobra revolver for about 11 days during a period he had previously acknowledged he had been struggling with drug addiction.

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The jury deliberated for about three hours over two days and found Biden guilty of three felonies including making a false claim on a gun purchase form that he was not a drug user, lying to a federally licensed firearms dealer, and unlawfully possessing the weapon for 11 days.

First Lady Jill Biden arrived at the courthouse in Wilmington to show her support for Hunter Biden shortly after the verdict was read on Tuesday morning. His aunt Valerie Biden Owens and his uncle James Biden were also at the courthouse Tuesday. During closing arguments on Monday, President Biden had arranged his schedule so he would be at his home about 5 miles from the federal courthouse for most of the day before returning to the White House for a concert marking Juneteenth on the South Lawn.

Biden is the first sitting president to have to contend with running the country while their child was being prosecuted by their own Justice Department. The jury’s decision is not only a crushing blow to the President and his family, but throws an unpredictable wrench in a presidential race that could be a nail biter. Hunter Biden’s conviction comes less than two weeks after a Manhattan jury found former President Donald Trump guilty of 34 felony counts for falsifying business records to cover up hush money paid to a porn star. Democrats have expressed hope that Trump’s new status as a felon will undermine his appeal to swing voters. It’s unclear if the conviction of the current President’s own son will shift the contours of the contest.

Biden has repeatedly said he would not interfere with the judicial process in his son’s case, vowing to accept the jury’s verdict and ruling out using his authority to pardon Hunter. “I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” President Biden said in a statement released after the guilty verdict on Tuesday.

In his statement, Biden spoke directly to Hunter Biden’s struggle with drug addiction, saying that “so many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery.” Biden said that he and the First Lady will “always be there” for Hunter and the rest of their family. “Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Biden said.

After the verdict, Hunter Biden said in a statement that he is “disappointed by the outcome” but “more grateful” for the love and support shown by his family and friends. He also referenced his efforts to recover from drug addiction. “Recovery is possible by the grace of God, and I am blessed to experience that gift one day at a time,” he said.

Biden’s defense team had argued in court that Biden bought the gun during a period of sobriety while he was swinging back and forth between drug use and rehabilitation. The defense also claimed that the federal form was too vague about what defined a drug user or how long before purchasing a gun a person was expected to have not used illegal drugs

But the jury believed Justice Department prosecutors had shown enough evidence that Hunter Biden was a drug user at the time of the purchase to convict him.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Leo Wise told jurors that no one was above the law and that the jury should take into account Hunter Biden’s pattern of drug use; evidence presented during the trial suggested he had used drugs weeks before purchasing the gun and in the days after.

The trial shined a harsh spotlight on Hunter Biden’s internal family turmoil, particularly in the years following the death of his older brother Beau Biden from brain cancer in 2015. Hunter’s daughter Naomi as well as his brother’s widow Hallie were called to testify and exposed the turbulent times Hunter Biden went through as he struggled with drug addiction after his brother died. 

Hallie Biden had a brief, combustible relationship with Hunter Biden after Beau’s death. She told the jury how she found an unloaded handgun while searching Hunter’s truck in October 2018 and was worried Hunter might use it on himself or that her children might find it. So, she said, she took the gun and threw it away into a garbage can at a Wilmington grocery store. That set in motion a chain of events that resulted in Hunter Biden being charged with federal drug crimes.

Hallie had testified that she didn’t see him use drugs during the days immediately around the gun purchase. But prosecutors showed the jury a text message about drug use the day before he bought the gun and another message sent the day after.  

Hunter Biden also faces federal tax charges in Los Angeles for allegedly failing to pay at least $1.4 million in taxes on income from foreign businesses. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. That case is set to go to trial in September.

The gun charges were brought after a years-long investigation by Department of Justice Special Counsel David Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for Delaware who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. Weiss initially began investigating Hunter Biden’s tax affairs in December 2020, weeks after Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

The decision by Weiss to bring the gun case to trial drew surprise in some legal circles, as it’s an offense that’s rarely prosecuted. Hunter Biden had previously reached an agreement with the Justice Department to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and avoid prosecution on the gun charge if he was willing to submit to probation, enter a diversion program, remain drug-free for 24 months, and agree to never own a firearm again. But that deal fell apart in court in July 2023.

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