Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, was indicted on federal firearms charges on Thursday, marking a significant development in a lengthy investigation involving the president's son. The indictment accuses Hunter Biden of making false statements about his drug use when purchasing a firearm in October 2018, a period during which he had openly discussed his struggle with addiction to crack cocaine. This indictment was filed in federal court in Delaware.
Hunter Biden has also been the subject of investigations into his business dealings. The special counsel overseeing the case has hinted at potential charges related to failure to pay taxes on time, which could be filed in either Washington or California, where Hunter resides.
This indictment coincides with congressional Republicans' pursuit of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, with a particular focus on Hunter Biden's business activities. Republicans have probed allegations that Hunter leveraged the "Biden brand" to secure overseas work but have yet to provide concrete evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
Previously, a gun possession charge against Hunter Biden was part of a plea deal that included guilty pleas to misdemeanor tax charges. However, this agreement fell apart during a court hearing in July when a judge raised concerns about its unusual provisions.
Hunter Biden's defense attorneys maintain that the part of the deal protecting him from prosecution on the gun charge is still valid and that they will contest additional charges.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, argue that the agreement never took effect and is now void. The gun charge filed against Hunter Biden on Thursday is rarely used independently and may face legal challenges, particularly in light of a recent appeals court ruling that questioned its compatibility with new Supreme Court standards for gun laws.
Republicans had criticised the original plea agreement as a "sweetheart deal" that would have allowed Hunter Biden to serve probation rather than jail time after admitting to failing to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018. During those years, he earned approximately $4 million, including fees from a company he co-founded with the CEO of a Chinese business conglomerate and the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.
Congressional Republicans have persisted in their investigations into the Justice Department's handling of the case and various aspects of Hunter Biden's business dealings, aiming to establish direct connections between his financial affairs and his father. However, they have not produced evidence of the president's direct involvement in his son's work, despite occasional interactions with Hunter's clients.
(With AP inputs)