Biden pledges to respect jury decision

By Bernd Debusmann Jr., BBC News, in Delaware courtMax Matza, BBC News

Getty Images Hunter and Joe Biden kiss on Delaware tarmacGetty Images

US President Joe Biden said he would respect a jury’s decision to find his son guilty of gun crimes, after a week-long trial that laid bare a tumultuous time for the family.

The 12-person jury found Hunter Biden, 54, guilty of lying about his drug use on a form when purchasing a handgun in 2018. He faces prison time as a result of the verdict, which marks the first criminal prosecution against the child of a sitting president.

His conviction comes on all three counts as President Biden campaigns for re-election in November and less than two weeks after the election of his rival Donald Trump was himself convicted of a crime in New York.

Although President Biden did not attend the trial in Delaware, many members of his family, including First Lady Jill Biden, did so regularly. Biden Hunter’s wife, sister and uncle were all present at times to support him during the proceedings.

President Biden flew to Wilmington, Delaware, after the verdict, where he greeted and hugged his son on the tarmac.

“I am president, but I am also a father. Jill and I love our son and are very proud of the man he is today,” he said in a statement. Mr. Biden added that he would “accept the outcome of this case and…would continue to respect the legal process while Hunter considers an appeal.”

President Biden previously ruled out pardoning his son, whose trial revealed embarrassing details as prosecutors sought to show he was using crack cocaine at the time he bought the gun.

Jurors heard from his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and a former girlfriend, Zoe Kestan, who described frequent drug use that took a toll on his friends and family. Text messages detailing his addiction and photographs, some showing Hunter Biden half-naked, were also presented in court.

Tuesday’s verdict sparked immediate political backlash, including from congressional Republicans who have spent years investigating Hunter Biden’s behavior and business ties.

James Comer, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said it marked a “step toward accountability” but added that “everyone involved” in what he called the “corrupt trafficking schemes of Biden’s influence” should be investigated.

At the same time, a statement from the Trump campaign said the trial had “been nothing more than a distraction from the true crimes of the Biden crime family.” The former president often used this description of the family on the campaign trail, referring to Allegations of inappropriate conduct Made against the president and his son by the Republicans.

Congressional Democrats have accused their Republican colleagues of hypocrisy and praised the American justice system.

“Compare and contrast the difference in reaction between Republicans and Democrats,” Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin said at a hearing.

Referring to Trump’s criminal conviction, he said: “Republicans are attacking our entire justice system and the rule of law because they don’t like the way a case was resolved, while the son of President of the United States is being prosecuted and I don’t hear a single Democrat crying foul.”

BBC reporter describes Hunter Biden’s reaction in court as verdict read

Meanwhile, several jurors who convicted Hunter Biden said politics was not a factor in their decision. “I never thought about President Joe Biden,” one junior told the BBC.

“Among all the jurors, no one mentioned political motivations,” he added.

President Biden’s aides told US media that the trial and verdict had an emotional impact on Mr Biden, who was closely following the case.

Politico reported that Mr Biden had been “absorbed in the trial for weeks” and sought updates from his family members while he was traveling in France for the D-Day anniversary events.

The outlet also said Mr. Biden has at times felt guilty about the attention paid to his son and believes his political career contributed to his son’s legal problems.

According to the Washington Postthe president’s advisers have often been reluctant to talk to him about his son and some have tried to limit Hunter Biden’s public appearances.

Biden Hunter will be sentenced within the next 120 days, but the judge in the case has not set a date for the hearing. He faces up to 25 years in prison, but legal experts say it is highly unlikely the final sentence will be anywhere near that given he is a nonviolent first-time offender.

His legal troubles are expected to continue throughout the year and throughout his father’s election campaign. In September he will go on trial in California for non-payment of $1.4 million (£1.1 million) in income taxes.

If convicted in this case, Hunter Biden faces up to 17 years in prison.

New Yorkers react to Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict

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