Hunter Biden's federal gun trial begins with jury selection

Trial comes days after former president Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felonies in New York

Hunter Biden arrives at federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. Reuters
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Hunter Biden, US President Joe Biden's son, appeared in court on Monday as a federal gun case against him began with jury selection.

The trial comes after the collapse of a deal with prosecutors that would have avoided a court case so close to the presidential election.

Hunter Biden has been charged in Delaware with three crimes stemming from a 2018 firearm purchase when he was, according to his memoir, in the throes of drug addiction.

He has been accused of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application used to screen firearms applicants when he said he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty and has argued he has been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department, after Republicans decried the now-defunct deal as special treatment.

The trial begins days after former president Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, was convicted of 34 felonies in New York for his role in a hush-money scheme.

Hunter Biden is also facing a separate trial in California in September on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes.

That case, also, was to have been resolved through a deal with prosecutors last July, the culmination of a years-long investigation into his business dealings, but the judge – appointed by Trump – introduced concerns about the agreement that led to it falling apart.

Over the course of President Biden's term in office, his son has been a lightning rod for Republicans, who have, without evidence, accused him and his father of involvement in a criminal family enterprise.

Democrats are worried the trial could become a distraction as the President tries to campaign under weak poll numbers and as he is preparing for a presidential debate while the proceedings play out.

“I am the President, but I am also a dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” President Biden said in a statement.

“As the President, I don’t and won’t comment on pending federal cases, but as a dad, I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him, and respect for his strength.”

Prosecutors are hoping to show Hunter Biden was in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and therefore lied on the forms.

They have said they are planning to use his published memoir as evidence and they may also introduce contents from a laptop he left at a Delaware repair shop and did not retrieve.

If he is convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison, but as a first-time offender, he is unlikely to receive the maximum sentence and may not receive jail time.

Updated: June 03, 2024, 5:02 PM