Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Hunter Biden Indicted on Federal Firearms Charges

Voice of America
15 Sep 2023, 06:05 GMT+10

washington - Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, was criminally charged Thursday with deceiving a gun dealer into selling him a firearm. It was thought to be the first indictment ever of a sitting U.S. president's child.

The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware, charged Biden with three criminal counts related to lying about the fact he was using illegal drugs in October 2018 when he purchased a Colt Cobra handgun, which would have banned him under the law from owning a firearm.

The charges, brought by U.S. special counsel David Weiss, say nothing about any violations of U.S. tax law. A prior deal under which Biden, 53, would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and enroll in a program to avoid prosecution on the gun charge collapsed in a July hearing.

The tax investigation into Biden is continuing. Weiss previously said any possible charges would need to be brought in either the District of Columbia or the Los Angeles-based Central District of California.

The indictment came two days after House of Representatives Republicans opened an impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden related to Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings. The White House has denounced that step, made without a vote by the full House, as unsubstantiated and politically motivated.

The White House declined to comment on the indictment. An attorney for Hunter Biden could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Weiss declined to comment.

Special counsel status

Weiss was elevated to special counsel status in August after investigating Hunter Biden's business dealings for years as the U.S. attorney in the Democratic president's home state of Delaware. Weiss was originally nominated by then-President Donald Trump.

The younger Biden for years has been the focus of attacks by Trump and his Republican allies, who have accused him of wrongdoing relating to Ukraine and China, among other matters. Hunter Biden has worked as a lobbyist, lawyer, investment banker and artist, and he has publicly detailed his struggles with substance abuse.

While Republican lawmakers have collected testimony that Joe Biden at times joined calls with his son's business associates, they have yet to produce evidence that the president personally benefited.

'Today's charges against Hunter Biden are a very small start, 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,' said Republican Representative James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, one of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry that kicked off this week.

Hunter Biden disclosed in December 2020 that Weiss's office was investigating his tax affairs. He has denied wrongdoing.

While most U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump were asked to step down when Biden took office in January 2021, as is routine, the Justice Department asked Weiss to stay on.

Hunter Biden has never held a position in the White House or on his father's campaign. The president has said he has not discussed foreign business dealings with his son and has said his Justice Department would have independence in any investigation of a member of his family.

Trump and other Republicans have alleged what they called conflicts of interest from Hunter Biden's position on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma at the time his father was vice president to Democratic President Barack Obama. Trump in a July 2019 phone call with Ukraine's president asked him to have his government open an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives later voted to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from these efforts, though the Senate ultimately voted to keep Trump in office.

In a 2021 memoir, Hunter Biden wrote of his substance abuse issues, including his use of crack cocaine and alcohol. He was discharged from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2014 after, sources said at the time, testing positive for cocaine.

The president has two surviving children, Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley Biden. His son Beau Biden died in 2015 of cancer and his daughter Naomi Biden died as an infant after a car accident that also killed Joe Biden's first wife.

Hunter Biden appears to be the first child of a sitting president to be indicted, according to Aaron Crawford, who specializes in presidential history at the University of Tennessee.

Crawford said family members of several presidents have been ensnared in legal or financial problems, including George H.W. Bush's son Neil, who was on the board of directors of a failed savings and loan, and Richard Nixon's brother Don, who was rescued from business failures by wealthy businessman Howard Hughes.

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