Biden Hunter to be tried in gun case, days after Trump’s conviction

Follow our live coverage of Hunter Biden federal gun trial.

Hunter Biden will go on trial Monday on gun charges in Delaware, just steps from his father’s campaign headquarters in Wilmington, less than a week after former President Donald J. Trump’s felony conviction in New York.

A year ago, the younger Mr. Biden seemed unlikely to face trial on the gun-related charges he faced stemming from a gun application that prosecutors say was falsified, or for more serious charges of failing to pay taxes on overseas business activities at a time when he was heavily using drugs and alcohol and spending money. sumptuously.

But a plea deal, which offered him some immunity from prosecution and did not include prison time, imploded in July. The judge in the case poked holes in the deal, much to the delight of Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress who tried to derail that deal and described Hunter Biden’s legal troubles as tantamount to those of their party’s 2024 presidential candidate with the aim of impeaching President Biden.

Yet it is the son – not the father – who will be tried twice in an election year. On Monday, he is expected to appear in Judge Maryellen Noreika’s fourth-floor courtroom when jury selection begins at 9 a.m. for a trial expected to last three to five days. The other, expected to begin in September, concerns a series of tax offenses linked to his failure to file returns over several years.

Last September, a federal grand jury indicted Mr. Biden with three crimes: lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false statement about the federal firearms application used to screen applicants, and possessing an illegally obtained weapon for 11 days, starting October 1. 12 to Oct. 23, 2018.

“Hunter Biden possessed a firearm while knowing that he was an unlawful user of or addicted to any stimulant, narcotic or other controlled substance, in violation of federal law,” prosecutors said.

If convicted, Mr. Biden could face up to 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. But nonviolent first-time offenders who have not been charged with using the weapon in another crime rarely receive lengthy prison sentences for those charges. In fact, legal experts say it’s more likely that a sentence could include a central part of the original plea deal: mandatory enrollment in a gun diversion program intended to reduce drug rates. incarceration for less serious gun crimes.

It is also possible that the parties could reach another plea agreement, much narrower than the first, although Mr. Biden’s legal team believes that prosecutors are determined to take the case to court to avoid charges according to which they demonstrate preferential treatment.

After intense research and baseless accusations, Congressional Republicans have yet to prove that President Biden profited from his embattled son’s dealings with a Ukrainian energy company. For now, they have abandoned their stated goal of impeaching the president, whom they claim, without evidence, to be the leader of the “Biden crime family.”

But the spectacle of Hunter Biden’s trial, and its timing, is creating major headaches for President Biden’s campaign, as it seeks to maximize the effect of Mr. Trump’s trial without the distraction of having a family member in court days after Mr. Trump was officially designated a criminal.

It also promises to be an excruciating personal ordeal for the president. The special counsel overseeing the prosecution, David C. Weiss, indicated he would expose some of the Biden family’s most embarrassing secrets by calling Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, who is engaged in a long-running legal battle with him over unpaid child support, according to prosecutors.

A top aide to Mr. Weiss, Leo P. Wise, filed court papers indicating that he also plans to call Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter Biden’s brother Beau. MS. Biden was dating Hunter Biden when he purchased a handgun in 2018 while in the throes of drug addiction.

The gun charges relate to whether Mr. Biden lied on a standard form issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when he purchased a gun .38. Prosecutors said he falsely claimed he was not taking drugs at the time.

Mr. Biden had the gun for less than two weeks, he said, before Hallie threw it in a dumpster, fearing he would use it to harm himself.

It is relatively rare for such gun charges to be brought against a non-violent first-time offender like Mr. Biden, unless it is used as leverage to extract confessions to other crimes, such as drug trafficking, current and former prosecutors said.

ATF officials who initially reviewed Mr. Biden’s form believed the case would not have been prosecuted if it had involved anyone other than Biden, particularly because Mr. Biden had took steps to combat his addiction, according to a former official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the investigation.

Mr. Biden has been sober for years and has written about his struggles with crack and alcohol addiction in his memoir, which will likely be used as evidence in his two trials. Since the plea deal fell through, he submitted to a drug test and passed, according to his attorney Abbe Lowell.

How Mr. Biden plans to pay for his powerful and expensive legal representation in both trials remains an open question.

Its chief benefactor, who has already extended nearly $7 million in loans to the president’s son, has told associates he is running out of cash. That has worsened a chronic cash crunch that has already left Mr. Biden’s lawyers working for little or no compensation. Efforts to create a legal defense fund have gone nowhere.

Judge Noreika, a Trump appointee, indicated in her preliminary rulings that she wanted the proceedings to move quickly and focus closely on Mr. Biden’s actions at the time he filled out the gun application.

She also ruled that Mr. Biden’s lawyers cannot rely on the fact that local authorities refused to prosecute him when the gun was recovered. She also blocked Mr. Weiss from referencing the tax case when presenting evidence in Delaware.

Last month, the Los Angeles federal judge presiding over the tax case agreed to push back the start of that trial from late this month to September. 5, giving Mr. Biden’s lawyers can prepare.

While the ruling was a relief for President Biden’s son, it pushes back a lawsuit that will likely highlight Hunter Biden’s efforts to cash in on his family’s name in the final stretch of the election season.

Mr. Biden has pleaded not guilty to charges of tax evasion, failure to file and pay taxes, and filing a false or fraudulent tax return.

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