Hunter Biden Convicted of Gun Charges by Jury in Delaware

(Bloomberg) -- Hunter Biden was found guilty of gun charges by a federal court jury in Delaware, becoming the first child of a sitting US president to be convicted of crimes.

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The son of President Joe Biden was convicted of three counts of violating federal gun laws for illegally checking a box on a form stating that he wasn’t an active drug user at the time he bought the firearm.

The week-long trial against Hunter Biden, 54, was punctuated by dramatic, emotional testimony from his family members and ex-lovers, who described his drug-fueled lifestyle when he was in the throes of addiction to crack cocaine from 2015 to 2019.

“There have been two overarching themes emphasized by the prosecution during this trial: this defendant’s illegal choices and the rule of law,” Special Counsel David Weiss told reporters after the verdict.

“Ultimately, this case was not just about addiction,” Weiss said. “This case was about the illegal choices the defendant made while in the throes of addiction.”

The verdict came less than two weeks after Joe Biden’s chief rival for the presidency, Donald Trump, was found guilty by a New York jury of 34 counts of falsifying business records. It’s unclear what, if any, impact the cases will have on the November election.

Hunter Biden’s legal problems represent political and personal turmoil for his father as he runs for reelection. The gun case was the first of two criminal trials he faces, with the next being scheduled for Los Angeles in September on charges he violated tax laws.

Hunter Biden said in a statement that he is “more grateful today for the love and support I experienced” from family and friends than disappointed by the outcome. “Recovery is possible by the grace of God, and I am blessed to experience that gift one day at a time,” he said.

His lawyer said they will “vigorously pursue all the legal challenges” to the verdict.

President Biden has said he’ll respect the jury’s verdict in the case and ruled out a pardon for his son.

“I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” the elder Biden said in a statement. “So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery.”

Two of the gun counts carry a prison term as long as 10 years, and another is punishable by as many as five, though judges rarely impose maximum sentences.

A juror who asked to remain anonymous told reporters after the verdict that the jury was initially split 6-6 when they began deliberations on Monday. Those who were against a conviction just wanted more time to talk about the evidence and politics never came into play during the deliberations, the juror said.

Many family members, including First Lady Jill Biden, attended the trial, during which prosecutors read salacious excerpts from Hunter Biden’s memoir, Beautiful Things.

Biden was charged by Weiss for illegally buying and possessing a gun on Oct. 12, 2018, after he checked “no” to a question about whether he was an active unlawful user of any controlled substance.

The government showcased evidence that Biden was addicted to crack cocaine, but failed to tie him to drug use on the specific day he bought the gun and filled out the form.

“Unlawful use doesn’t have to be on a specific day,” prosecutor Leo Wise told the jury during closing arguments on Monday. “If he used drugs in the days and weeks preceding the purchase, he’s met the test for active addiction.”

Hunter Biden’s lawyers argued that he didn’t knowingly violate the law because he may have thought he was clean at the time he purchased the gun. They also suggested that Biden may have been lying when he sent texts in the days after buying the gun indicating that he was looking to buy and use crack.

Weiss was nominated by Trump to serve as the US attorney for Delaware and kept on by Biden. He was appointed as a special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2023 to manage the cases against Hunter Biden.

Weiss on Tuesday said Garland ensured that his office had the independence it needed to bring the case.

Hunter Biden and Weiss had agreed to a plea deal last year to resolve the gun and tax allegations, but the agreement fell apart under questioning by the judge overseeing the case. Biden’s lawyers and supporters have argued that Weiss then bowed to political pressure by Trump and conservatives in bringing the charges.

The case is US v. Biden, 23-cr-00061, US District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

(Updates with more comments throughout.)

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