Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to gun charges

By Mike Hayes, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 11:42 AM ET, Tue October 3, 2023
9 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:36 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Our live coverage has ended. Follow the latest news or read through the updates below. 

11:22 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

"These charges are the result of political pressure," Hunter Biden’s lawyer says

From CNN's Evan Perez

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell speaks to Biden as they leave federal court in Delaware on Tuesday.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell speaks to Biden as they leave federal court in Delaware on Tuesday. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell issued a statement after the president’s son pleaded not guilty to gun charges in federal court in Delaware Tuesday:

These charges are the result of political pressure from President Trump and his MAGA allies to force the Justice Department to ignore the law and deviate from its policies in cases like this one,” Lowell said.

“The only substantive and relevant changes since July, when the US Attorney decided against pursuing these exact charges against Mr. Biden, has been various court rulings undermining the constitutionality of the law at issue here and a coordinated, partisan attack on our system of justice by right-wing Republicans,” Lowell added.

Hunter Biden’s team has said he has abided by the conditions set by an agreement that fell apart earlier this year but that they contend is still valid.

 

10:59 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Hunter Biden’s attorneys plan to ask for a hearing to test government’s case

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz, Yahya Abou-Ghazala and Holmes Lybrand

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell, left, speaks to Biden ahead of his appearance in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell, left, speaks to Biden ahead of his appearance in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

One of the next steps in the Hunter Biden criminal case over gun charges could be an evidentiary hearing to test the government’s case against him. 

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell told Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke Tuesday that they will be asking for a hearing where prosecutors present evidence they’ve gathered.

“Given what we all know about this case, we will be asking for an evidentiary hearing,” Lowell said.  

During the arraignment, Hunter Biden sat still with his hands on the table and only spoke when asked direct questions by the judge. 

When asked if he understood his rights as a criminal defendant, he said, “Yes, your honor.”

The hearing lasted 19 minutes.

10:45 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Joe Biden's schedule is empty as his son is arraigned in Delaware

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Arlette Saenz

President Joe Biden departs the White House on September 15, 2023 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden departs the White House on September 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Joe Biden's public schedule was clear Tuesday as his son Hunter Biden was in a Delaware courtroom pleading not guilty to federal gun charges.

Behind closed doors, the president was expected to place phone calls to foreign leaders, hoping to bolster confidence in continued US support for Ukraine after Congress failed to approve new funding over the weekend, according to people familiar with the matter. 

The president's schedule was similarly empty on July 26, the day an expected plea agreement fell apart in the courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware. President Biden was kept abreast of the developments by his lawyers in between policy meetings with advisers. He also taped a podcast interview in which he publicly acknowledged his seventh grandchild — Hunter's daughter with a woman in Arkansas — for the first time.

First lady Jill Biden regularly teaches a class at Northern Virginia Community College on Tuesday mornings. She did not otherwise have any public events.

The White House continues to refer questions about the case to Hunter Biden's personal representatives or the Justice Department.

Hunter Biden hasn't been seen publicly at the White House in several months, but he is known to speak on a near-daily basis with his father. He spent a week in August on vacation with the president and his family at Lake Tahoe, but they were not seen in public together at any point.

When Hunter Biden was indicted in September, the president was preparing for what the White House billed as a "major" economic address. He delivered the speech as planned.

10:52 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Hunter Biden leaves courthouse after being released on conditions set by court

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz, Yahya Abou-Ghazala and Holmes Lybrand

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, walks outside on the day of his appearance in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, walks outside on the day of his appearance in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Hunter Biden has left the federal courthouse in Delaware after being released on several conditions, including that he not possess a firearm or use alcohol or controlled substances.

Judge Christopher Burke said the conditions are “essentially the same,” with some wording changes, as were set during a failed plea hearing this summer.

10:56 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to gun charges  

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz, Yahya Abou-Ghazala and Holmes Lybrand

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, walks outside on the day of his appearance in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, walks outside on the day of his appearance in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to three gun charges related to a firearm purchase he made in 2018 while allegedly using illicit drugs. 

The president's son is charged with possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, making a false statement in the purchase of a firearm and making a false statement to the gun shop where he bought the gun. Prosecutors say Biden lied on a federal form when buying a pistol by not disclosing his drug use. 

The charges follow a previous plea deal he was set to enter this summer on separate charges for allegedly failing to pay his taxes, but which ultimately collapsed.

Part of that previous deal included an agreement to avoid prosecution on a gun possession charge. 

10:16 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Hunter Biden enters federal courtroom where he’s expected to plead not guilty to gun charges 

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz and Yahya Abou-Ghazala

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, walks to appear in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, walks to appear in a federal court on gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Mike Segar/Reuters

Hunter Biden has entered the federal courtroom for today’s arraignment on gun charges. The president’s son is expected to plead not guilty to gun charges.   

Hunter is accompanied by his lawyer Abbe Lowell.

9:55 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Hunter Biden arrives at federal court to be arraigned on gun charges

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Hunter Biden arrives at federal courthouse in Delaware on Tuesday.
Hunter Biden arrives at federal courthouse in Delaware on Tuesday. CNN

The president’s son, Hunter Biden, has arrived at the federal courthouse in Delaware to be placed under arrest and enter a plea on charges related to a gun purchase he made in 2018. Following today’s arraignment, Biden is expected to be processed and released.  

Hunter Biden was charged last month with three counts including allegedly making false statements on a federal form when buying the gun. Prosecutors say he failed to disclose his use of illicit drugs at the time of the purchase and owned the weapon as a prohibited person.  

In September, the magistrate judge overseeing Tuesday’s hearing ordered Hunter Biden to appear in person for his arraignment, noting that he should be treated the same as other defendants appearing before the court.  

Hunter Biden, Judge Christopher J. Burke wrote, “should not receive special treatment in this matter – absent some unusual circumstance, he should be treated just as would any other defendant in our Court. Any other defendant would be required to attend his or her initial appearance in person. So too here.” 

8:57 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Key things to know about the charges Hunter Biden faces

From CNN's Marshall Cohen, Kara Scannell and Hannah Rabinowitz

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance in July in Wilmington, Delaware.
Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance in July in Wilmington, Delaware. Julio Cortez/AP/File

President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was indicted last month by special counsel David Weiss in connection with a gun he purchased in 2018, the first time in US history the Justice Department has charged the child of a sitting president.

The charges include making false statements on a federal firearms form and possession of a firearm as a prohibited person.

If convicted on all counts, Hunter Biden could theoretically face as much as 25 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000, according to court filings.

However, defendants very rarely get the maximum penalty, especially in cases like these, involving non-violent crimes and an alleged first-time offender.

The three-count indictment was handed up by a federal grand jury in Delaware, according to court filings.

  • Count One accuses Hunter Biden of lying on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form when he bought the gun, by falsely swearing that he wasn’t addicted to illegal drugs or using illegal drugs.
  • Count Two accuses Hunter Biden of lying to the federally licensed gun dealer in Wilmington where he bought the gun. The alleged lie was related to the same sworn statement on the ATF form.
  • Count Three accuses Hunter Biden of illegally possessing the gun while using drugs or being addicted to drugs, which is a federal crime. He possessed the gun for 11 days in 2018.

The White House thought the Hunter Biden legal drama would end this summer, but a plea deal reached with Weiss to resolve the matter without charges collapsed over the summer amid scrutiny from a federal judge. House Republicans also announced an impeachment inquiry into the president in relation to Hunter Biden’s business ventures.

Hunter Biden’s gun-related legal troubles involve a firearm he purchased in October 2018. While buying a revolver at Delaware gun shop, he lied on a federal form when he swore that he was not using, and was not addicted to, any illegal drugs – even though he was struggling with crack cocaine addiction at the time of the purchase.