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Hunter Biden convicted on all charges in gun trial

1 week 6 days 13 hours ago Tuesday, June 11 2024 Jun 11, 2024 June 11, 2024 10:26 AM June 11, 2024 in News
Source: Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Hunter Biden was convicted Tuesday of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018 when, prosecutors argued, the president’s son lied on a mandatory gun-purchase form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Jurors found Hunter Biden guilty of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days. The jury in Wilmington, Delaware, deliberated for about three hours over two days.

Hunter Biden started straight ahead and showed little emotion as the verdict was read. After the verdict, he hugged both of his attorneys and smiled wanly. He kissed his wife, Melissa, and they left the courtroom together. First lady Jill Biden arrived at the courthouse minutes after the jury delivered its verdict and was not in the courtroom when it was read.

Hunter Biden left the courthouse holding hands with the first lady and his wife. They did not speak to reporters, got into waiting SUVs and drove off.

After the jury’s decision was announced, President Joe Biden said he would accept the outcome of the case and “will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.”

“Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that,” the president said in a statement.

His son faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Maryellen Noreika, though first-time offenders do not get anywhere near the maximum, and it’s unclear whether she would give him time behind bars. The judge did not set a sentencing date.

Now Hunter Biden and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the president’s chief political rival, have both been convicted by American jurors in an election year that has been as much about the courtroom as about campaign events and rallies.

Joe Biden has steered clear of the federal courtroom in Delaware where his son was tried and said little about the case, wary of creating an impression of interfering in a criminal matter brought by his own Justice Department. But allies of the Democrat have worried about the toll that the trial — and now the conviction — will take on the 81-year-old, who has long been concerned with his only living son’s health and sustained sobriety.

Hunter Biden and Trump have both argued they were victimized by the politics of the moment. But while Trump has continued to falsely claim the verdict was “rigged,” Joe Biden has said he would accept the results of the verdict and would not seek to pardon his son.

The verdict came shortly before the president was scheduled to give a speech on his administration’s efforts to limit gun violence at a conference hosted by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund in Washington.

Hunter Biden’s legal troubles aren’t over. He faces a trial in September in California on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes, and congressional Republicans have signaled they will keep going after him in their stalled impeachment effort into the president. The president has not been accused or charged with any wrongdoing by prosecutors investigating his son.

The prosecution devoted much of the trial to highlighting the seriousness of Hunter Biden’s drug problem, through highly personal testimony and embarrassing evidence.

Hunter Biden did not testify, but jurors heard his voice when prosecutors played audio excerpts of his 2021 memoir, “Beautiful Things,” in which he talks about hitting bottom after the death of his brother, Beau, in 2015, and his descent into drugs before his eventually achieving sobriety.

Prosecutors felt the evidence was necessary to prove that Hunter, 54, was in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and therefore lied when he checked “no” on the form that asked whether he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to” drugs.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers had argued that he did not consider himself an “addict” when he bought the gun. They sought to show he was trying to turn his life around at the time, having completed a rehabilitation program at the end of August 2018. The defense called three witnesses, including Hunter’s daughter Naomi, who told jurors that he seemed be improving in the weeks before he bought the gun.

The trial played out in the president’s home state, where Hunter Biden grew up and where the family is deeply established. Joe Biden spent 36 years as a senator in Delaware, commuting daily to Washington, and Beau Biden was the state attorney general.

Hunter Biden had hoped last year to resolve a long-running federal investigation under a deal with prosecutors that would avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. Under the deal, he would have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax offenses and avoid prosecution in the gun case if he stayed out of trouble for two years.

Attorney General Merrick Garland then appointed top investigator David Weiss, Delaware’s U.S. attorney, as a special counsel last August, and a month later Hunter Biden was indicted.

Hunter Biden has said he was charged because the Justice Department bowed to pressure from Republicans who argued the Democratic president’s son was getting special treatment.

The reason that law enforcement raised any questions about the revolver is because Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow, found it unloaded in Hunter’s truck on Oct. 23, 2018, panicked and tossed it into a garbage can at a grocery store, where a man inadvertently fished it out of the trash. She testified about the episode in court.

Hallie Biden, who had a romantic relationship with Hunter after Beau died, eventually called the police. Officers retrieved the gun from the man who inadvertently took the gun along with other recyclables from the trash. The case was eventually closed because of lack of cooperation from Hunter Biden, who was considered the victim.

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