Hunter Biden will plead not guilty to gun charges

Hunter Biden is expected to plead not guilty to three gun charges stemming from a firearm purchase in 2018, according to a letter from his attorney to the judge presiding over the case.

A federal court filing on 18 September requests that the president’s son attend his first court appearance virtually following last week’s grand jury indictment.

“Mr Biden also will enter a plea of not guilty, and there is no reason why he cannot utter those two words by video conference,” according to a letter from his attorney Abbe Lowell to US Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke attached to the motion.

“In short, Mr Biden is satisfied that his constitutional rights will be met by conducting his initial appearance by video conference,” the letter added.

The charges follow a five-year investigation under Delaware US Attorney and recently appointed US Department of Justice special counsel David Weiss.

Mr Biden was set to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges and enter a diversion agreement related to a felony gun charge in July, but a plea agreement came under scrutiny during a federal court hearing and ultimately fell apart. Prosecutors later announced they would intend to seek a grand jury indictment by the end of September.

The indictment alleges that the younger Biden was using crack cocaine when he bought a Colt Cobra .38 special revolver from a federally licensed gun dealer in Delaware in October 2018. He indicated on a federal form that he was not using illegal narcotics at the time, according to prosecutors.

He is charged with illegally owning a gun as a drug user and with allegedly lying on a form when he bought it. Mr Biden possessed the gun for 11 days.

His attorney argued that a virtual appearance for the hearing, which is common, would also prevent significant strain on government resources, including Secret Service escorts and additional security personnel.

Prosecutors have opposed the request, which Mr Lowell called “puzzling”.

“Mr Biden is not seeking any special treatment in making this request. He has attended and will attend any proceedings in which his physical appearance is required,” according to Mr Lowell’s letter.

Mr Lowell had previously indicated that he would present a Second Amendment defense, as a series of federal court rulings surrounding similar issues have deemed the charges unconstitutional in the wake of last year’s landmark US Supreme Court ruling under the conservative court’s expansive Second Amendment lens.

“We believe these charges are barred by the agreement the prosecutors made with Mr Biden, the recent rulings 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,” Mr Lowell said in an earlier statement.

The case is separate from Republican-led impeachment threats targeting the president and investigations into the Biden family, which have not yielded evidence that the president was influenced by or profited from his son’s dealings while in office. Those probes come as as the GOP’s leading candidate for the party’s 2024 nomination, Donald Trump, faces four sprawling criminal trials of his own, including charges for serious crimes allegedly committed while in office.