Hunter Biden Convicted on Federal Gun Charges

Jury Deliberates In Hunter Biden Gun Trial

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, arrive to the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 11, 2024 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Hunter Biden was found guilty on all federal gun charges brought by his father’s Justice Department on Tuesday. A jury in Wilmington, Delaware, deliberated for just three hours after a weeklong trial that saw searing testimony from Biden’s own family about his crack-cocaine addiction. Biden’s legal team has previously indicated that they will appeal the verdict, which is punishable by time in prison.

The verdict is the culmination of a long, messy legal and personal drama for Biden, 54, and his family resulting from a sprawling investigation that originally looked into Biden’s financial dealings overseas. (He is set to stand trial in the fall over separate financial crimes related to tax evasion.) Biden was indicted last year for making false statements while purchasing a firearm and for possession of a firearm by a drug addict or user, totaling three felony charges. Biden was accused of lying about his history of drug use on paperwork in October 2018 when he purchased a revolver from a Wilmington gun store.

During the trial, prosecutors painted a portrait of Biden at the height of his addiction and presented as their key witness Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter’s brother, Beau. She testified about how she and Hunter fell into a short-lived romantic relationship following Beau’s death from brain cancer in 2015. She testified that Hunter introduced her to crack cocaine and she began using the drug, but later broke the habit. “It was a terrible experience that I went through,” she said. “I’m embarrassed and I’m ashamed, and I regret that period of my life.” Critically, they were together when Hunter purchased the gun at the center of the case while allegedly using drugs. Hallie discovered the weapon and later disposed of it. “I panicked,” she said, according to the Washington Post. “I didn’t want him to hurt himself and I didn’t want my kids to find it and hurt themselves.”

The defense has sought to argue that it can’t be proven that Biden was using drugs at the time of his purchase of the gun in 2018. Biden’s eldest daughter, Naomi, testified for the defense, saying that she never saw her father use drugs and that he appeared to be in a good place during a 2018 meeting at a coffee shop. “He seemed like the clearest that I had seen him since my uncle died, and he just seemed really great,” she said.

But texts between the two during that same time period suggested that Biden was sometimes unresponsive and hard to reach, prompting concerns from Naomi. “I’m really sorry, dad, I can’t take this,” she said in one text read aloud in court. “I don’t know what to say. I just want to hang out with you.” The two embraced after she left the stand.

Biden nearly avoided a trial altogether after striking a plea deal with federal prosecutors in 2023 that would’ve had him plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges in exchange for sidestepping a felony gun charge from the 2018 gun-store purchase. However, the deal fell apart during a July hearing after attorneys on both sides failed to come to an agreement on what was covered under the immunity portion of the terms.

Biden has been a constant target of fruitless investigations led by congressional Republicans who have attempted to find a connection between him, President Joe Biden, and illicit dealings with foreign business — forming the basis for a brief, failed push to impeach the president. Though he refrains from commenting on the specifics of his son’s legal troubles, Joe Biden has consistently stood by Hunter, praising him for his resilience and his work toward his sobriety. First Lady Jill Biden attended most of her stepson’s trial, only missing one day to travel to France with the president for events commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

In a statement released after the verdict came down, President Biden reiterated his support for his son. “I will accept the outcome of this 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,” he said.

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