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Hunter Biden’s lawyers say he will plead not guilty to gun charges, but they want a virtual arraignment

Federal prosecutors are opposing a request by the president's son to appear virtually for his arraignment at a courthouse in Delaware.
Image: Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, leaves federal court after a plea hearing on misdemeanor income tax charges in Wilmington, Del., on July 26.
Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, leaves federal court in Wilmington, Del., on July 26.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

Hunter Biden will plead not guilty to the felony gun charges facing him according to a court filing Tuesday from his lawyers who also argued that the president's son should not have to appear in person for his arraignment.

Attorney Abbe Lowell said in the filing that Biden will “enter a plea of not guilty, and there is no reason why he cannot utter those two words by video conference.”

"We respectfully request that the Court hold Mr. Biden’s initial appearance in this matter by video conference," Lowell said, adding that his client was "not seeking any special treatment in making this request."

He said Biden wanted "to minimize an unnecessary burden on government resources and the disruption to the courthouse and downtown areas when a person protected by the Secret Service flies across the country and then must be transported to and from a downtown location."

Biden lives in California, and the arraignment is expected to be held at a federal courthouse in Wilmington. A date for the arraignment has not been scheduled yet.

The filing came after U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke revealed in an order Monday night that Biden wanted to appear virtually at the hearing and that prosecutors opposed the request.

The order did not say when the appearance might be. Burke directed Biden's lawyers to make their request in writing Tuesday and told the government to respond in writing by Wednesday.

In his filing, Lowell said the "government’s opposition to this common-sense request is puzzling because Mr. Biden is not asking for special treatment with this request, as individuals without the additional considerations described herein regularly make such appearances by video." 

A spokesperson for special counsel David Weiss did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Biden was hit with a grand jury indictment in federal court in Delaware on Thursday on three counts tied to possession of a gun while using narcotics.

Two of the counts accuse Biden of having falsely indicated on a federally mandated form that he was not using illegal drugs when he bought a Colt Cobra revolver in Delaware in October of 2018. The indictment says Biden certified “that he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.”

The third count alleges he possessed a firearm while using a narcotic.

Biden was initially charged with a single gun violation in July as part of a plea deal that fell apart last month. A joint filing with prosecutors in the original case, which cannot be used in the current case, said Biden possessed the gun for 11 days at a time when “he purchased and used crack cocaine regularly.” The gun was “subsequently discarded in a trashcan outside a supermarket in Greenville, Delaware,” the filing said.

Under the terms of now-scuttled plea deal, Biden would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges in return for prosecutors recommending a sentence of probation. In a separate deal known as a diversion agreement, the felony gun charge would have been dismissed in two years if Biden stayed out of trouble.

Lowell said last week that he plans to fight the new gun charges, including by arguing they're not constitutional.

“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,” Lowell said.

Two of the counts in the new carry maximum prison sentences of 10 years, while the third has a maximum of five years. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.