West News Wire: An indictment revealed that President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been charged with three criminal offences involving the possession of weapons in a case that is sure to be heavily discussed during the 2024 election campaign.
According to the indictment submitted in US federal court in Delaware on Thursday, prosecutors accused Hunter of lying about his drug usage in order to purchase a handgun in 2018.
The indictment, which was brought by US Special Counsel David Weiss, comes after an arrangement for Hunter to confess to two tax offences that were misdemeanours and sign up for a scheme to stay out of trouble on a charge involving guns fell through in July.
A White House spokesman referred questions on Thursday to the US Department of Justice and Hunter’s legal team, saying the charges stem from an independent investigation.
Hunter’s legal troubles will no doubt play an outsized role in the 2024 US presidential campaign as President Biden seeks re-election in a likely rematch with his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who leads the GOP’s nomination race.
The indictment also was made public just days after Republicans announced they would open an impeachment inquiry into the Democratic president in large part over his son’s business dealings.
Trump and his Republican friends have been attacking Hunter, 53, for years, accusing him of malfeasance in connection with, among other things, connections with Ukrainian and Chinese businesses.
Hunter’s personal problems, such as a protracted battle with drug addiction, have also been used by Biden’s detractors to criticise the president.
Hunter allegedly made a declaration “certifying he was not an unlawful user of, addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance” in order to get a firearm in 2018, according to the indictment released on Thursday.
However, they said that he was aware that the “statement was false and fictitious”.
Hunter’s lawyers said on Thursday that the charges should not have been filed, citing the plea deal they had reached with prosecutors earlier this year.
After the indictment, attorney Abbe Lowell stated, “We believe these charges are barred by the agreement the prosecutors made with Mr. Biden, the recent decisions 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.”
If the plea deal had gone through, the younger Biden, who never served in the White House or on his father’s campaign but has prior lobbying experience, would not have faced the weapons charges.
On July 26, a federal judge suspended the agreement due to concerns about its size.
Republicans had denounced the plea agreement, which would have seen Hunter serve probation rather than jail time for tax violations, as too lax.
On Thursday afternoon, right-wing Congressman Andy Biggs suggested that the gun charges are a trick intended to make the Justice Department appear fair. “Don’t fall for it,” he wrote in a social media post.
The House Oversight Committee’s Republican chair, James Comer, praised the accusations as a “very small start” but urged further investigation into Hunter’s business dealings with foreign firms.
“The Justice Department’s sweetheart plea deal fell apart after a federal judge refused to rubber stamp it,” Comer stated in a statement.
“Mountains of evidence revealed that Hunter Biden likely committed several felonies, and Americans expect the Justice Department to apply the law equally.”
Democrats frequently emphasise that President Biden shouldn’t be punished for his actions because he was not involved in his son’s business operations.
They also charge that GOP senators are trying to divert attention away from Trump’s legal problems by looking into the Biden family.
Four different criminal indictments against the former Republican president have been filed so far this year, two of which deal with his attempts to rig the 2020 US election that he lost to Biden.
In each of the lawsuits, which Trump claims are part of an effort to undermine his 2024 campaign, he has denied any misconduct.