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WILMINGTON, Delaware — President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden has formally entered a plea of not guilty to felony gun charges, setting up the possibility of a high-profile trial as his father embarks on a reelection bid in the coming year.
Appearing in the same federal courthouse in Delaware where his plea deal with prosecutors fell apart over the summer, the younger Biden indicated he would fight the three-count indictment brought last month by special counsel David Weiss — the same prosecutor who brokered the ill-fated agreement.
Special counsel David Weiss indicted President Joe Biden’s son last month after a yearslong investigation. That probe appeared on the cusp of completion in June, when Weiss’ office brokered a two-pronged plea agreement with Hunter Biden’s legal team.
The deal, however, deteriorated under questioning by a federal judge in July.
The agreement would have allowed Hunter Biden to avoid prison time in exchange for a guilty plea on misdemeanor tax charges and a diversion agreement on one felony gun charge.
Instead, the younger Biden now faces the three gun charges and potentially more tax-related charges in the coming weeks or months. Prosecutors also suggested in open court that they may pursue charges related to Hunter Biden’s overseas business endeavors, including potential violation of foreign lobbying laws.
Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Biden, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last month that, “on the facts, we think we’ll have a defense” to the gun charges.
Lowell initially sought to waive Hunter Biden’s court appearance, asking the court to allow him to enter his plea via video conference in order to limit what he called “the financial impact on government resources and the logistical burden on the downtown area of Wilmington.”
But prosecutors pushed back on that request and a federal magistrate judge ultimately ordered Hunter Biden to appear in person.
The hearing comes as Hunter Biden fights legal battles on several other fronts. Last week, House Republicans held the first hearing of their impeachment inquiry into President Biden, drawing largely on unproven ties between the president’s political career and his son’s business endeavors.
The younger Biden is also waging a legal counteroffensive against his most vocal critics and the alleged purveyors of personal data derived from a laptop he purportedly left at a Delaware computer repair shop in 2018.
If Hunter Biden is found guilty on the three gun-related charges, he could face up to 25 years in prison — though the Justice Department has said any sentence would likely fall far short of that maximum penalty.