What to know about Hunter Biden's indictment
- The president's son has been indicted on three felony counts accusing him of lying about his drug use when buying a gun, court documents show.
- Special counsel David Weiss, a Trump appointee, has been overseeing the investigation.
- Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges in July after a plea deal struck with the government fell apart.
- Two of the counts carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, while the third has a maximum of five years. Read the indictment here.
- Biden's son and his legal trouble have long been a target of conservatives, who have accused the president of improperly intervening on his son's behalf. GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy this week opened an impeachment inquiry into the president.
Delaware gun shop: No comment on Hunter Biden charges
StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply, the Wilmington, Del., gun shop mentioned as “Company 1” in today’s indictment and where Hunter Biden purchased the firearm in question, has no comment on the charges filed today against Biden.
Grassley says that Hunter Biden indictment is 'starting point'
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted that the indictment against the president's son is a "starting point" for "justice."
He then asked about an investigation into money laundering and bribery and also questioned why there hasn't been a "follow up" on a form that Republicans say alleges that Biden was involved in a bribery scheme.
The allegation was never substantiated.
"All facts need 2 be pursued Remember Weiss negotiated initial sweetheart deal so I’ve got real concerns about him taking this across the finish line," Grassley tweeted.
Trump says Hunter Biden charges are only ones that don't implicate 'Crooked Joe Biden'
Donald Trump said in a Truth Social post that the charges filed against the president's son "is the only crime that Hunter Biden committed that does not implicate Crooked Joe Biden."
"The Democrats, with all of their horrible, very unfair, and mostly illegal Witch Hunts, have started a process that is very dangerous for our Country. They have opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box, and it is possible that the USA will never be the same again. SO SAD!!!" Trump wrote.
There is no evidence that the president was been implicated in any of his son's legal issues. The White House has denied all wrongdoing.
Hunter Biden lawyer: Indictment 'presents a grave threat to our system of justice'
Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's lawyer, said the decision to charge the president's son "presents a grave threat to our system of justice."
"As expected, prosecutors filed charges today that they deemed were not warranted just six weeks ago following a five-year investigation into this case," he said Thursday in a statement. "The evidence in this matter has not changed in the last six weeks, but the law has and so has MAGA Republicans’ improper and partisan interference in this process. Hunter Biden possessing an unloaded gun for 11 day was not a threat to public safety, but a prosecutor, with all the power imaginable, bending to political pressure presents a grave threat to our system of justice."
He added, "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.”
Threats mount against prosecutors and FBI agents working on Hunter Biden probe
Prosecutors and FBI agents involved in the Hunter Biden investigation have been the targets of threats and harassment by people who think they haven’t been tough enough on the president’s son, according to government officials and congressional testimony obtained exclusively by NBC News.
It’s part of a dramatic uptick in threats against FBI agents that has coincided with attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department by congressional Republicans and former President Donald Trump, who have accused both agencies of participating in a conspiracy to subvert justice amid two federal indictments of Trump.
The threats have prompted the FBI to create a stand-alone unit to investigate and mitigate them, according to a previously unreleased transcript of congressional testimony.
Read the full Hunter Biden indictment
Hunter Biden's lawyer last week said politics 'influenced the outcome' of special counsel investigation
Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's lawyer, said in an interview on MSNBC last week that the president's son had a gun for 11 days and it was "never loaded" and "never used."
"There has never been a stand-alone gun charge like this brought by this office ever, and should not be," Lowell said. "They decided that it made sense to do a diversion because of Hunter’s condition at the time, and now they’re talking about changing that."
Lowell suggested the turn of events in Hunter Biden's case was the result of politics because the facts haven't changed.
"We have seen over the last six weeks, the politics have certainly influenced the outcome," he said.
Major gun rights group applauds indictment against Hunter Biden
Gun Owners of America applauded the charges made against Hunter Biden, tweeting, "Good! If his father wants to work with us to repeal unconstitutional gun control, our lobbyists will be at the White House in an hour. Until then, Hunter shouldn’t get any sweetheart deal!"
The group's senior vice president, Erich Pratt, said in a statement, "Gun Owners of America opposes all gun control, but so long as this President continues to use every tool at his disposal to harass and criminalize guns, gun owners and gun dealers, his son should be receiving the same treatment and scrutiny as all of us.”
Why gun charges are being brought against Hunter Biden now
DOJ: Actual sentences are 'typically less' than maximum penalties for Hunter Biden charges
In the Justice Department's press release announcing that Hunter Biden has been charged with three felony counts, it suggests that the president's son may not actually be sentenced with the maximum penalties.
"If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison," the DOJ said. "Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors."
Sen. Coons, a Biden ally, not worried that Hunter Biden charges will be a liability for the president
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., one of Biden's closest allies in the Senate brushed off the latest charges against Hunter Biden, saying, “It’s not news. It’s the same charges that were presented before, right?”
Asked if he's concerned the federal indictment of the president's son will be a liability for Biden, Coons said, "Not particularly."
GOP lawmakers have also been investigating Hunter Biden and the Justice Department's probe
Since taking the majority in January, House Republicans have ramped up their investigations into Hunter Biden and the Justice Department's probe into the president's son that began in 2018.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight committee, has been leading the House GOP investigation into Hunter Biden. In August, he said he had plans to subpoena members of the Biden family, including possibly the president himself.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has also collaborated with Comer on those efforts to obtain documents and more information.
Earlier this week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced he was directing Comer, Jordan and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, which will also involve Hunter Biden as well.
Sen. Rick Scott: Americans 'will never forgive' Biden if he pardons Hunter
In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., reposted a letter he wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland in June, criticizing the DOJ's handling of the case. He captioned it with "a warning" for President Biden, saying: "The American people will never forgive you or your gross corruption if you pardon Hunter." Scott, a vocal critic of the president, has expressed support for the House GOP's investigations.
GOP Rep. in charge of Biden impeachment inquiry: Indictment ‘a very small start’
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement that "today's charges are a very small start."
"But unless U.S. Attorney Weiss investigates everyone involved in the fraud schemes and influence peddling, it will be clear President Biden's DOJ is protecting Hunter Biden and the big guy," he said.
Comer said that there are "mountains of evidence" that shows "Hunter Biden likely committed several felonies." He said Americans expect the Justice Department to apply the law equally.
Comer is leading the House GOP's impeachment inquiry into the president.
Special counsel David Weiss will not address media today
A spokesperson for Weiss tells NBC News there will be no media availability today by the special counsel.
GOP Republicans argue indictment should've gone further
House Republicans reacted swiftly to the news of Hunter Biden's indictment by posting on X (formerly Twitter), with some lamenting that the charges don't go far enough.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia questioned where the indictments against Biden were for "tax fraud, FARA abuse, money laundering, and sex trafficking." Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas also called for Hunter to be indicted on more charges, tweeting "Violation of the Foreign Agents Act, anyone?"
Missouri Rep. Eric Burlison seemed to imply that President Joe Biden should be charged with crimes, saying that Hunter Biden was "a sacrificial lamb" and that "We want the "Big Guy." House Republicans' investigations into the Bidens have not turned up evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
Rep. Darrell Issa of California posted more simply: "Biden’s DOJ thinks you’re stupid."
Legal experts say the charges against Hunter Biden are rarely brought
The charges brought against President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden are rarely prosecuted, legal experts say.
Possession of a firearm by a person who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is a rarely used statute that is facing legal challenges and has recently been used as a catch-all charge against white supremacists.
The charge is under legal threat. A federal appeals court ruled in June that the government cannot ban those convicted of nonviolent crimes from possessing a weapon, and a federal court in Texas recently ruled — following a major Supreme Court case last year that expanded gun rights — that the ban on drug users possessing weapons violates the Second Amendment.
The charge, when brought, has often been used in high-profile cases where the underlying conduct doesn’t violate any obvious federal criminal statute, including against the mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Newport News, Virginia. She pleaded guilty to the charge — possessing a firearm while using marijuana — along with a charge of making a false statement.
Hunter Biden could face prison time if convicted
Two of the counts Hunter Biden is charged with carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, while the third has a maximum of five years.
On Count 1: False Statement in Purchase of a Firearm, he faces a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment; a fine of $250,000; 3 years of supervised release; a special assessment of $100.
On Count 2: False Statement Related to Information Required to be Kept by Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer, he faces a maximum of 5 years of imprisonment; a fine of $250,000; 3 years of supervised release; a special assessment of $100.
On Count 3: Possession of a Firearm by a Person who is an Unlawful User of or Addicted to a Controlled Substance, he faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment; a fine of $250,000; 3 years of supervised release; a special assessment of $100.
Here are the details of the Hunter Biden charges:
Hunter Biden has been indicted on three felony gun charges by the Justice Department. Here are the charges:
- Count 1: False Statement in Purchase of a Firearm
- Count 2: False Statement Related to Information Required to be Kept by Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer
- Count 3: Possession of a Firearm by a Person who is an Unlawful User of or Addicted to a Controlled Substance
The indictment details that Hunter Biden "knowingly made a false and fictitious written statement, intended and likely to deceive" a firearms dealer when on or about Oct. 12, 2018, he was acquiring a gun, a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver.
He "provided a written statement on Form 4473 certifying 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 indictment also says that on or about Oct. 12, 2018 through on or about Oct. 23, 2018, in Delaware, Hunter Biden "knowing that he was an unlawful user of and addicted to any stimulant, a narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance...did knowingly possess a firearm."
Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to tax charges in July after plea deal derailed
Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges in July after a plea deal he struck with the government unraveled when the judge raised questions about the terms of the agreement.
Biden had been expected to plead guilty to two charges of failure to pay taxes under a deal he struck with the government. Far from signing off on a done deal, he pleaded “not guilty” to those charges instead until the two sides could meet and address the questions posed by U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika.
Hunter Biden probe launched in 2018, overseen by U.S. attorney appointed by Trump
Hunter Biden said in December 2020 that federal officials in Delaware were investigating his "tax affairs," a probe that began in 2018.
U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who was appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, has been in charge of the investigation. In August, Attorney General Merrick Garland made Weiss the special counsel.
Earlier this year, Weiss's office charged Hunter Biden with two misdemeanor tax offenses and a felony firearm crime, which was possession of a gun while using narcotics.
He was expected to plead guilty over the summer as part of an agreement with the Justice Department, but the deal collapsed in court when a judge questioned its parameters.
Weiss said in a court filing last week that he intended to seek a grand jury indictment of Hunter Biden before the end of September. The filing signaled that new charges could be filed against the president's son.
Hunter Biden indicted on federal gun charges
Federal prosecutors have indicted Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, on gun charges, court documents show.
The historic indictment against the son of a sitting president comes after a plea deal that might have ended a years-long probe into Hunter Biden fell apart and just as House Republicans have launched an impeachment inquiry in an effort to seek bank records and other documents from the president and his son.