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Hunter Biden indicted on firearms charges

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance on July 26 in Wilmington, Del.
Julio Cortez
/
AP
President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance on July 26 in Wilmington, Del.

Updated September 14, 2023 at 4:46 PM ET

Hunter Biden has been indicted on felony gun charges weeks after a plea deal struck between President Biden's son and prosecutors fell apart. The charges possibly set the stage for yet another high-profile criminal trial in the middle of the 2024 election as President Biden is seeking reelection.

Special counsel David Weiss charged Biden with three counts: two for knowingly making false written claims that he was not an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug or other controlled substance when purchasing a firearm. There is another charge for illegal possession of a firearm. This is in connection with a gun he bought in 2018.

The White House declined to comment, noting the investigation into the president's son was an independent inquiry.

Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's attorney, accused Weiss of "bending to political pressure" from Republicans.

"We believe these charges are barred by the agreement the prosecutors made with Mr. Biden, the recent rulings by several federal courts that this statute is unconstitutional, and the facts that he did not violate that law, and we plan to demonstrate all of that in court," Lowell said in a statement.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, to argue Democrats opened a "proverbial pandora's box," though he noted that these charges don't implicate the sitting president.

The development comes a month after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Weiss as special counsel in the investigation into the president's son.

Earlier this year, Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor offenses related to his filing of federal income taxes. Federal authorities also charged him with a felony firearm offense, for which he agreed to enter a pretrial diversion agreement that allows him to avoid prosecution.

But that dealfell apart in July when the judge in the case demanded that lawyers from both sides make clear that the deal did not convey broad immunity offered to Biden from prosecution on his business dealings and foreign lobbying.

But the sides couldn't agree and the plea deal fell apart.

The indictment comes days after Biden impeachment inquiry

The two are not connected investigations.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday the House would initiate an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, arguing Biden lied to "the American people about his own knowledge of his family's foreign business dealings."

But Republicans have not proven any connection between Hunter Biden's business dealings and President Biden.

Some are alleging corruption around Hunter's business dealings when Biden was vice president. But House committee chairmen who are pushing impeachment haven't produced any evidence that the president received any financial benefit.

The Biden campaign blamed McCarthy's impeachment decision on Trump, who is vying to lead his party in the 2024 presidential race.

Still, Rep. James Comer on Wednesday called for a bigger investigation into the president and his son.

"Today's charges against Hunter Biden are a very small start," he said in an online statement. "But unless U.S. Attorney Weiss investigates everyone involved in the fraud schemes and influence peddling, it will be clear President Biden's DOJ is protecting Hunter Biden and the big guy."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.