Hunter Biden conviction

This is the first time that a sitting President’s son has been convicted of a felony in a criminal trial.

On Tuesday, a federal jury in Delaware found Hunter Biden guilty of lying about his drug use when purchasing a gun in 2018. Prosecutors presented the jury with photos, testimony, and messages indicating that Biden possessed a .38 caliber Colt Cobra revolver for approximately 11 days during a period he had previously acknowledged struggling with drug addiction.

After deliberating for about three hours over two days, the jury found Biden guilty of three felonies: making a false claim on a gun purchase form about his drug use, lying to a federally licensed firearms dealer, and unlawfully possessing the weapon for 11 days.

First Lady Jill Biden arrived at the courthouse in Wilmington to show her support for Hunter Biden shortly after the verdict was read on Tuesday morning. His aunt Valerie Biden Owens and his uncle James Biden were also present at the courthouse on Tuesday. During closing arguments on Monday, President Biden adjusted his schedule to be at his home, about 5 miles from the federal courthouse, for most of the day before returning to the White House for a concert marking Juneteenth on the South Lawn.

Biden is the first sitting president to face the challenge of running the country while his child is being prosecuted by the Justice Department. The jury’s decision is not only a significant blow to the President and his family but also introduces unpredictable factors into a presidential race that could be extremely close. Hunter Biden’s conviction comes less than two weeks after a Manhattan jury found former President Donald Trump guilty of 34 felony counts for falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star. Democrats have expressed hope that Trump’s new status as a felon will weaken his appeal to undecided voters. It remains unclear whether the conviction of the current President’s son will alter the dynamics of the election.

Biden has repeatedly stated that he would not interfere with the judicial process in his son’s case, vowing to accept the jury’s verdict and ruling out the use of his authority to pardon Hunter. “I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” President Biden said in a statement released following the guilty verdict on Tuesday.

In his statement, Biden spoke directly to Hunter Biden’s struggle with drug addiction, saying, “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.” Biden expressed that he and the First Lady will “always be there” for Hunter and the rest of their family. “Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Biden said.

After the verdict, Hunter Biden said in a statement that he is “disappointed by the outcome” but “more grateful” for the love and support shown by his family and friends. He also referenced his efforts to recover from drug addiction. “Recovery is possible by the grace of God, and I am blessed to experience that gift one day at a time,” he said.

Biden’s defense team had argued in court that Biden purchased the gun during a period of sobriety while he was alternating between drug use and rehabilitation. The defense also argued that the federal form was too vague regarding what constituted a drug user or how long before purchasing a gun a person was expected to have abstained from illegal drugs.

However, the jury believed that Justice Department prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence to convict Hunter Biden of being a drug user at the time of the purchase.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Leo Wise told jurors that no one was above the law and that they should consider Hunter Biden’s pattern of drug use; evidence presented during the trial suggested he had used drugs weeks before purchasing the gun and in the days after.

The trial shed a harsh light on Hunter Biden’s internal family turmoil, particularly in the years following the death of his older brother Beau Biden from brain cancer in 2015. Hunter’s daughter Naomi, as well as his brother’s widow Hallie, were called to testify and exposed the turbulent times Hunter Biden experienced as he struggled with drug addiction after his brother’s death.

Hallie Biden had a brief, intense relationship with Hunter Biden after Beau’s death. She informed the jury that she found an unloaded handgun while searching Hunter’s truck in October 2018 and was concerned that Hunter might use it on himself or that her children might find it. She said that she took the gun and threw it away into a garbage can at a Wilmington grocery store. This action triggered a series of events that resulted in Hunter Biden being charged with federal drug crimes.

Hallie testified that she did not observe him using drugs during the days immediately surrounding the gun purchase. However, prosecutors showed the jury a text message about drug use the day before he bought the gun and another message sent the day after.

Hunter Biden also faces federal tax charges in Los Angeles for allegedly failing to pay at least $1.4 million in taxes on income from foreign businesses. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges. The trial for this case is scheduled for September.

The gun charges were brought following a years-long investigation by Department of Justice Special Counsel David Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for Delaware who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. Weiss initially began investigating Hunter Biden’s tax affairs in December 2020, weeks after Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

The decision by Weiss to bring the gun case to trial surprised some legal circles, as it is an offense rarely prosecuted. Hunter Biden had previously reached an agreement with the Justice Department to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and avoid prosecution on the gun charge if he was willing to submit to probation, enter a diversion program, remain drug-free for 24 months, and agree to never own a firearm again. However, this deal fell apart in court in July 2023.