Hunter Biden convicted on all counts in federal gun trial

World News

A Delaware jury convicted Hunter Biden of three federal felonies Tuesday for unlawfully purchasing a gun while he was addicted to drugs in 2018, according to multiple reports—a major blow to the president’s son.
Jury Deliberates In Hunter Biden Gun Trial

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, leaves the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 11, 2024 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Key Takeaways
  • The 12-person jury reached a verdict in the case after less than a day of deliberations, convicting Hunter Biden of lying on a federal form to purchase a gun by checking a box that he was not a drug user, lying to a federally licensed firearm dealer and illegally possessing the gun for 11 days.
  • The three charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
  • The case stems from a Colt Cobra .38 Hunter Biden, 54, bought in October 2018, when prosecutors allege he was in the throes of an addiction to crack cocaine.
  • Prosecutors relied heavily on Hunter Biden’s own memoir, “Beautiful Things,” in which he details his drug addiction, reading passages from the book throughout the trial and text messages taken from Hunter Biden’s electronic devices in which he discusses his drug use around the same time he bought the gun.
  • Hunter Biden’s daughter, Naomi Biden, and three of his exes, including his brother Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, were called to testify, with Hallie Biden saying she found the gun in Hunter Biden’s truck in October 2018, alongside remnants of crack, then discarded it in a trash bin outside of a local grocery store before it eventually made its way back into the hands of law enforcement.
  • Hunter Biden’s attorneys argued that he didn’t “knowingly” lie on the form when he bought the gun, because he may have believed he was clean at the time.
Chief Critic

“The evidence here on key issues is so lacking . . . what [prosecutors] failed to present should be clear to you,” Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell told the jury during closing arguments Monday, suggesting prosecutors did not adequately prove Hunter Biden was using drugs at the time he bought the gun, according to the Washington Post. Lowell added that prosecutors “spent hours, literally hours, recounting Hunter’s terrible journey through alcohol and drug abuse.”

Contra

A text Hunter Biden sent Hallie Biden on Oct. 14, 2018, two days after he bought the gun, is perhaps the most direct evidence prosecutors presented of his drug use overlapping with his ownership of the gun. In it, Hunter Biden said he was “on a car smoking crack,” an FBI agent testified. Lowell argued Hunter Biden often lied to Hallie Biden because he didn’t want to see her, and Hallie Biden testified she couldn’t be certain Hunter Biden was telling the truth about his whereabouts that day.

Tangent

President Joe Biden will accept the verdict and has ruled out pardoning his son, he told ABC News on Thursday. Biden has made repeated public statements of support for his son, and First Lady Jill Biden attended multiple days of his trial. “As the President, I don’t and won’t comment on pending federal cases, but as a Dad, I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him and respect for his strength,” Biden said in a statement Monday as the trial began.

Surprising Fact

Charges of lying about drug use on a federal form to purchase a gun are “almost never brought” as a stand-alone case, former federal prosecutor Ankush Khardori wrote for Politico. Cases involving unlawful purchases or possession of a firearm are more routine, and “almost always result in convictions” through a plea deal, he wrote.

Key Background

Federal prosecutors indicted Hunter Biden on the gun charges in September last year after a plea deal fell apart over a disagreement between Hunter Biden’s lawyers and prosecutors about the potential for future charges. The deal would have allowed him to avoid the gun charges if he successfully completed a diversion program.

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges in October. Both the judge overseeing the case, Maryellen Noreika, and Weiss are Trump appointees. Hunter Biden’s attorneys claimed in a failed appeal bid that Weiss “vindictively and selectively prosecuted” Hunter Biden at Republicans’ behest and claimed the plea agreement was still in place when the charges were filed.

Noreika dismissed the arguments and an appeals court subsequently ruled the case could move forward to trial.

What To Watch For

Weiss’ office also indicted Hunter Biden in Los Angeles on nine federal tax charges in December, alleging he failed to pay more than $1.4 million in taxes between 2016 and 2019 and instead spent the money on an “extravagant lifestyle.”

The plea deal encompassing the gun charge would have allowed Hunter Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges, and prosecutors would have recommended probation in return. Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to the tax charges in January, and his trial in the case is set for Sept. 3.

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