Hunter Biden's Federal Gun Trial 



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Hunter Biden: The struggles and scandals of the US president's son

Getty Image shows Hunter Biden arriving at court on Monday with his wife

Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison i

With the strike of a judge's gavel in Delaware, Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, became the first child of a sitting president to be a criminal defendant.

Prosecutors allege the younger Biden, 54, lied about his drug use on application forms when he purchased a handgun in 2018.

Mr Biden has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Opening statements in the case are expected to begin Tuesday, after 12 jurors and four alternates were sworn in on Monday.

If the jury finds him guilty of all three federal counts, Mr Biden could face up to 25 years in prison.

The trial - which comes as his father campaigns for re-election - is likely to see prosecutors delve into graphic details of Mr Biden's crack cocaine addiction, potentially providing fodder for the president's political foes.

President Biden has repeatedly declined to comment on the court case, but he said in a statement on the morning of the trial's start that he has "boundless love" and "confidence" in his son.

"Hunter's resilience in the face of adversity and the strength he has brought to his recovery are inspiring to us," the elder Biden said.

Here's what we know about the case.

What are the charges?

Mr Biden is facing three federal charges in the case: two counts of making false statements and one count of illegal gun possession.

The charges all relate to his purchase of a revolver at a Delaware gun store in October 2018, which he kept for about 11 days.

By Mr Biden's own admission, he was deep in the throes of a "full blown addiction" to crack cocaine at the time.

The two false statement charges stem from allegations that he lied about his drug use on a federally-mandated form when he purchased the weapon.

Specifically, prosecutors allege that he falsely claimed that he was "not an unlawful user of and addicted to any stimulant narcotic drug" when he purchased a Colt Cobra Special revolver.

The third count is related to his possession of a firearm while alleged to have been a drug user.

The gun was discarded and discovered at a grocery store in Greenville, Delaware, prompting an investigation that ultimately led investigators back to the forms.

How strong is the evidence?

To convict Mr Biden, prosecutors will have to convince jurors that he knowingly made false statements on the form in a bid to deceive the store that sold him the pistol.

Additionally, they will have to prove that Mr Biden was a drug user or addicted to drugs, and took possession of the gun despite knowing as much.

US District Judge Maryellen Noreika has already ruled that defence lawyers cannot argue that the prosecution can only get a guilty verdict by proving Mr Biden was using drugs on the day he bought the weapon.

Instead, in a pre-trial hearing, the judge agreed with prosecutors' argument that they need only prove that "unlawful use (had) occurred recently enough to indicate that the individual (was) actively engaged in such conduct".

In court filings made ahead of the trial's start, prosecutors suggested that they would rely, in part, on deeply personal text messages and other communications made while Mr Biden was in the throes of addiction.

In one such text message cited in court documents, Mr Biden refers to himself as a "liar and a thief and a blame and a user and I'm delusional and an addict unlike beyond and above all other addicts that you know".

The prosecution is also expected to rely on the testimonies of witnesses including ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and Mr Biden's ex-partner Hallie Biden - who is also the widow of Mr Biden's brother Beau.

Prosecutors will also be able to point to Mr Biden's own 2021 memoir, in which he detailed his experiences as a drug user who was "up twenty-four hours a day, smoking every 15 minutes, seven days a week".

"All my energy revolved around smoking drugs and making arrangements to buy drugs - feeding the beast," he wrote in the book.

Getty Image shows Jill Biden arriving at court

First Lady Jill Biden arrives at court for the start of jury selection

Getty Images Hunter Biden addresses reporters on Capitol Hill

Hunter Biden has repeatedly accused Republicans of using his addiction and recovery to "embarrass" and attack his father


While Mr Biden has himself been quiet about the trial, legal documents filed by his lawyers suggest that they will focus on how much Mr Biden was aware of his addiction at the end of the purchase, and on the quality of the evidence itself.

His primary attorney, Abbe Lowell, unsuccessfully sought permission from the court to call upon an expert witness who can testify about an addict's understanding of their substance abuse issues.

In an interview with the BBC after Mr Biden's not guilty plea, South Texas College of Law Professor Dru Stevenson said that charges for illegal gun possession usually result in a "slam dunk case".

"I don't think there's any question that [Mr Biden] will be convicted."

The third charge, regarding Mr Biden's alleged possession of a firearm while a drug user, is considered unusual, as it can be hard to prove someone is a drug user and has a gun.

"It's just really rare that they would go after someone and prosecute them for this," Prof Stevenson said. "But this is a high-profile person and there's been members of Congress demanding he be prosecuted."


Infamous laptop could feature

Among the most prominent pieces of evidence at the trial is likely to be the information on Mr Biden's infamous laptop, which has been the focus of intense media speculation and focus from conservative news outlets.

The laptop has also been at the centre of unproven theories linking Mr Biden and his father to corruption, which they both deny.

Mr Biden's own lawyers have argued that the computer was tampered with before it fell into the hands of investigators.

The special counsel appointed to oversee the probes into Hunter Biden, David Weiss, has said that the tampering argument is a "conspiracy theory" with "no supporting evidence."

In a May filing, prosecutors wrote that the laptop contained "significant evidence" of Mr Biden's guilt.

Could he go to prison if convicted?

The two false statement charges each carry a maximum sentence of up to 10 years, while the third count is punishable by up to five years - meaning that Mr Biden could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Actual sentences for federal crimes, however, are typically less than the maximum penalties specified by law.

If Mr Biden is convicted, the judge in the case will ultimately determine the sentence after considering sentencing guidelines and a variety of other legal factors.

Hunter Biden's other charges

In addition to the gun charges in Delaware, Mr Biden is facing separate federal charges in California over allegations that he evaded a tax assessment, failed to properly file and pay taxes and filed a fraudulent tax return.

Several months after the spectacular collapse of a plea deal that would address both sets of charges last year, Mr Biden also pleaded not guilty to the tax charges.


Hunter Biden: The struggles and scandals of the US president's son

By Sam Cabral,BBC News, Washington

Getty Images Hunter Biden (left) with his father, current US President Joe Biden

Hunter Biden (left) with his father, current US President Joe Biden

Hunter Biden, the only surviving son of President Joe Biden, is set to go on trial for allegedly lying about his illegal drug use when he purchased a handgun in 2018.

As jury selection began in Delaware on Monday, he became the first child of a US president to face a criminal trial.

Last summer, the 54-year-old looked set to resolve tax and gun charges against him and avoid prison time in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

But the deal unravelled in court, and the prosecutor leading the federal inquiry into his alleged wrongdoing later indicted Hunter on the gun charges.

In December, a second indictment alleged Hunter had failed to pay at least $1.4m (£1.1m) in federal taxes that he owed for tax years 2016-19.


Congressional Republicans have conducted impeachment hearings into President Biden to investigate alleged influence-peddling by his son. Both Bidens deny wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Hunter's personal struggles - from alcohol and drug abuse, to relationship strife - have spilled over into full public view.

So what more do we know about Hunter Biden?

A childhood steeped in tragedy

Getty Images Beau, Joe, Hunter and Neilia Biden at Joe Biden's 30th birthday party

Hunter (second from right) at his father's 30th birthday party

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1970 to Joe Biden and his first wife Neilia, Hunter was given his mother's maiden name as his first name.

He was only two years old in December 1972 when - less than six weeks after his father's election to the US Senate - a truck rammed into the family car.

The accident took the lives of his mother and his baby sister Naomi, while leaving him with a fractured skull and his older brother Beau with a broken leg.

Joe Biden - who was not in the car - took his oath of office by their bedside in hospital.

Getty Images Hunter (extreme left) looks on with his family after Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in 1988

Hunter (extreme left) looks on with his family after Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in 1988

Hunter later attended Georgetown University and Yale Law School, graduating in 1996.

Between the two degrees, he joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a Catholic group that serves marginalised communities.

There, he met his first wife, Kathleen Buhle, a lawyer, and they wed in 1993. They have three children - Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy - but the pair split in 2017.

The 'darkness' of addiction

His father is teetotal, but Hunter started drinking as a teenager and has acknowledged abusing cocaine as a college student. He has been in and out of rehab.

In 2013, he signed up for the US Navy Reserve and was sworn in before his father - then the vice-president - in a White House ceremony. 

But on his very first day at the naval base, he tested positive for cocaine use and was discharged, something he later said he was "embarrassed" by.

Getty Images Hunter (extreme left) walks with his then-wife Kathleen, father Joe and step-mother Jill in 2009

Hunter walks with his then-wife Kathleen, father Joe and step-mother Jill in 2009

According to the New Yorker, he drank excessively after the death of his older brother, Beau, from brain cancer in 2015, sometimes only leaving the house to buy vodka.

"He and Beau were one," his daughter, Naomi, once wrote on Twitter. "One heart, one soul, one mind."

During their acrimonious divorce, Ms Buhle accused Hunter of "spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he had sexual relations) while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills".


Breaking her silence last year on how the 24-year marriage unravelled, she told Good Morning America: "He was struggling under a massive drug addiction, and that's heart-breaking and painful and that wasn't who I was married to."

In his 2021 memoir Beautiful Things, Hunter concedes that his infidelity was the final straw in their marriage.

A DNA test in 2019 found he was "the biological and legal father" of a child born to Lunden Alexis Roberts, an exotic dancer from Arkansas.

Hunter claimed to have "no recollection" of their encounter in his memoir, but he has settled a paternity suit with Ms Roberts and pays her child support.

None of the Bidens appear to have ever met Navy Roberts, now four years old. But amid a media pressure campaign, President Biden was last summer forced to acknowledge his seventh grandchild.

Even before his split from Ms Buhle was finalised, Hunter entered into a relationship with his brother's widow, Hallie Biden.

For about two years, they bonded over the shared and "very specific grief" of their loss, he told the New Yorker.

Two months after completing a stint in rehab in 2018, Hunter purchased a handgun on a whim. According to the New York Times, he ominously told a family friend: "I know you all think the wrong brother died."

Prosecutors say he lied on the firearm application form by claiming that he was not using drugs at the time - an offence for which he could now face up to 25 years behind bars.


Hallie found the weapon in his vehicle and, fearing he might hurt himself, tossed it in a bin behind a grocery store 11 days after he bought the firearm.

By Hunter's own admission - published in his memoir - he was in the throes of a "full-blown addiction" at the time.

Reports of an "amicable" split between the two surfaced in 2019, less than a week after his father launched a third bid for president.

But mere weeks later, Hunter wed South African filmmaker Melissa Cohen after a whirlwind six-day romance. They have one son.

Speaking out in 2019 on his struggle with addiction, he said: "You don't get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it."

Getty Images Hunter (left), with father Joe and brother Beau, waves at supporters during Barack Obama's inauguration as president

Hunter, with father Joe and brother Beau, waves at supporters during Barack Obama's inauguration as president

In Beautiful Things, he credits his survival to his family's love, recounting an intervention that ended with his father tightly embracing him and saying: "I don't know what else to do. I'm so scared. Tell me what to do."

Hunter has turned in recent years to painting as a form of therapy, telling the New York Times that it "keeps me away from people and places where I shouldn't be".

But sales of his artwork - for up to $500,000 a piece - have created an ethics dilemma for the Biden White House.

President Biden has defended his son on multiple occasions, most notably during a presidential debate in 2020. 

After Mr Trump took issue with his child's struggles, he responded: "My son - like a lot of people - had a drug problem. He's fixed it and worked on it, and I'm proud of my son."

Mixing family and business

Getty Images Hunter and Joe Biden, and Barack Obama at a college basketball game in 2010

Hunter laughs with Joe Biden and Barack Obama in 2010

After graduating from Yale, Hunter worked at MBNA America, a bank holding company headquartered in Delaware and later acquired by Bank of America.

Joe Biden's close ties to the bank - one of the largest employers in Delaware and a top contributor to his political campaigns - earned him the unfavourable moniker of "the senator from MBNA".

As Hunter was promoted to the rank of executive vice-president, Joe pushed bankruptcy reform legislation favourable to MBNA through the Senate.

In the early 2000s, while still receiving consulting fees from the bank, Hunter opened a Washington lobbying practice.

It saw him land "clients with interests that overlapped with [his father's] committee assignments and legislative priorities", according to Politico Magazine.

The father-son relationship at the time, he told the New Yorker, was that neither would speak to the other about lobbying work.

President Biden has maintained this to be true in the case of more recent allegations of wrongdoing as well.

Getty Images Hunter (left) and sister Ashley wave as they arrive at their father's presidential inauguration

Hunter and sister Ashley wave as they arrive at their father's presidential inauguration

In 2006, with then-Senator Biden set to re-assume chairmanship of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, Hunter and another relative made an ill-fated purchase of a hedge fund group.

Their tenure at Paradigm Global Advisors extended through Joe Biden's 2008 run for president and selection as vice-president to President Barack Obama.

During this time, the fund was connected with several alleged fraudsters, including a Texas financier convicted of running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in US history.

The Bidens denied any wrongdoing and faced no charges. In 2010, they liquidated the fund and returned money to investors.

China and Ukraine

Much has been made in recent years about Hunter's foreign business interests while his father was vice-president.

In 2013, he took a founding board seat at BHR, a Chinese private equity firm - first as an unpaid member and later owning a 10% equity stake in the fund.

The company was registered in Shanghai less than a fortnight after Hunter flew with his father on an official vice-presidential trip to China and met BHR's chief executive, but only for "a cup of coffee", the first son later said.

After his father left office in 2017, Hunter partnered with Chinese oil tycoon Ye Jianming on a natural gas project in Louisiana.

The deal collapsed after Ye was detained by Chinese authorities on corruption charges and subsequently went missing.

Getty Images Hunter, Joe and Finnegan Biden in China in 2013

Hunter accompanied his father on his official trip to China in 2013

Hunter's dealings in Ukraine have stoked even more controversy, given that his father was the Obama administration's point man for US-Ukraine relations.

In 2014, he joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, where he was paid as much as $1.2m (£943,000) per year.

As part of an anti-corruption drive, Vice-President Biden was at the time rallying for the ouster of the country's top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.

Mr Shokin was removed by parliament in 2016, but critics argue the prosecutor only lost his job because he was investigating Burisma.

Republicans alleged both Joe and Hunter Biden had received $5m payouts from Burisma executives in exchange for Mr Shokin's firing. But those claims fizzled when an ex-FBI informant was charged with fabricating the whole bribery scheme.

A former business partner to Hunter also testified Joe had been on speakerphone several times during Hunter's calls with various contacts.

Allegations of corruption formed the centrepiece of both President Trump's first impeachment in 2019, and are stoking the nascent impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

A laptop abandoned by Hunter at a Delaware repair shop, and the seedy contents of its hard drive, also featured prominently in the 2020 presidential campaign.

The Biden team argued at the time it was a "smear campaign" engineered by Russian disinformation, but the hard drive has been authenticated by US media and the FBI has it.

Analysis of its contents has provided proof of Hunter's extensive earnings from his work in China and Ukraine, as well as evidence of his alcohol- and drug-fuelled escapades.

As the president revs up his re-election campaign, the extensive fallout from his son's legal drama, business interests and tabloid-friendly life is proving to be an unwelcome distraction.


Hunter Biden: The legal troubles of the US president's son

By Sam Cabral,BBC News, Washington
Reuters Hunter Biden disembarks from Air Force One in Syracuse, New York, on 4 February 2023
Hunter Biden disembarks from Air Force One in New York in February 2023

US President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, is facing a second criminal case after federal prosecutors filed a new set of charges related to his tax affairs.

An indictment alleges that he failed to pay at least $1.4m (£1.1m) in federal taxes that he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019.

It comes after a plea deal, which had been expected to see Mr Biden admit to a number of tax and gun offences in order to avoid prison time, fell through in July.

In September, prosecutors announced they were indicting Mr Biden, 53, with three counts of lying on the application form he used to purchase a handgun in 2018.

And all the while congressional Republicans, who have forged ahead with inquiries into Mr Biden's foreign business dealings, have opened an impeachment inquiry into the president.

Here is a guide to the first son's legal troubles.

The plea deal

In June, prosecutors with the US Department of Justice struck a two-part plea agreement with Hunter Biden's legal team.

Under the deal, he was to be charged with two misdemeanour counts for failing to pay his taxes on time in 2017 and 2018.

He was also to admit that he had illegally possessed a gun while being a drug user, and agree to drug treatment and monitoring in lieu of a more serious felony charge and possible jail time.


Republicans argued the president's son was receiving a "sweetheart deal".

That claim was bolstered by two tax investigators, who testified to Congress that they believed political considerations had hampered the probe and benefited Mr Biden.

At a hearing in Delaware in August, the deal crafted over several months dissolved under scrutiny from the federal judge overseeing the case.

Both sides negotiated unsuccessfully in full view of reporters, before District Judge Maryellen Noreika refused to "rubber-stamp" what she called an "atypical" agreement.

The first indictment

David Weiss, the US attorney in Delaware, began investigating allegations of Mr Biden's criminal conduct in 2019.

On 11 August, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Mr Weiss as special counsel, providing him with extra resources and the power to bring charges in other jurisdictions.

Watch: US announces special counsel for Hunter Biden investigation.

Republicans had previously advocated for the appointment of a special counsel, but criticised the choice of Mr Weiss even though he was a Trump appointee.

They pointed to Mr Weiss' role in brokering the controversial plea deal, as well as the justice department's delay in appointing a special counsel, to argue that he would "protect" Mr Biden from further prosecution and slow down their own inquiries.


On 14 September, prosecutors said they had indicted Mr Biden on three gun charges related to his purchase of a Colt Cobra revolver handgun in October 2018, two months after a stint in rehab.

Two of the counts allege Mr Biden lied that he was not a drug user on the federal application form he filled out to buy the weapon. They each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

A third count relating to firearm possession while using narcotics carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

In October, Mr Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The new legal strategy

The continuing legal battleproceeded without Christopher Clark, who had been Mr Biden's lead attorney for the previous five years.


Mr Clark withdrew from the case on 15 August, writing in a court notice that he could be called as a witness in any potential trial to discuss the plea agreement.

The baton was taken from him by Abbe Lowell, a legal fixture of scandal-ridden Washington who has previously represented Bill Clinton, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

After Mr Lowell began providing counsel to Mr Biden last December, his legal team began taking a more aggressive posture.

On 18 September, Mr Biden sued the Internal Revenue Service over the congressional testimony of its two tax investigators earlier in the year.

The suit, which seeks $1,000 per unauthorised tax disclosure it alleges, argues the two agents "targeted and sought to embarrass" Mr Biden by publicly sharing his confidential tax information.


Some of the most embarrassing details of Mr Biden's life were revealed by the contents of a laptop he apparently abandoned at a Delaware repair shop in 2019.

Mr Biden also recently sued Trump ally Rudy Giuliani and his former attorney Robert Costello for "unlawful hacking" and the "total annihilation" of his digital privacy.

He had earlier sued the repairman, John Paul Mac Isaac, for invasion of privacy and publication of private information.

The second indictment

On 7 December, federal prosecutors filed nine new tax charges against Mr Biden.

The indictment alleges that he "engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4m in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019".


The charges include failure to file and pay taxes, false tax return and evasion of assessment.

Prosecutors say that, instead of paying his taxes, Mr Biden spent his money on "drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature".

They added that he "individually received more than $7 million in total gross income" between 2016 and mid-October 2020, but "wilfully failed to pay his 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 taxes on time, despite having access to funds to pay some or all of these taxes".

Mr Biden eventually paid all his taxes and fines back in 2020 - with the help of a loan from his personal attorney.

The impeachment inquiry

Questions have been raised over the past two decades about Hunter Biden's business practices, and whether he had leveraged his name and access to his powerful father to make money and land clients.

Particular attention has been paid to what he was doing in China and Ukraine during Joe Biden's vice-presidency.

Watch: Why Hunter Biden is important to Republicans

In 2013, the younger Mr Biden became a founding board member at BHR, a private equity firm backed by some of China's local governments and largest state banks.

He went on to a hold a 10% equity stake, although attorney George Mesires has claimed that Mr Biden did not acquire the stake until after his father's tenure as vice-president ended in 2017. He remained with the board until 2020.

In 2014, Mr Biden joined the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company where he made about $1.2m per year.


His father was at the time engaged in anti-corruption work as the Obama administration's point man on US-Ukraine relations.

The elder Mr Biden argued the country's top prosecutor Viktor Shokin was blocking corruption investigations and he rallied the international community to push for his ouster.

But Republicans allege Mr Shokin, who was removed by parliament in 2016, was fired because he was investigating Burisma.

Getty Images The Bidens at his inauguration in January 2021

President Biden says he has never discussed his son's business interests with him

The president has long maintained he never discussed business with his son or his associates.


But Devon Archer, a long-time business partner, testified behind closed doors to lawmakers that Mr Biden had frequently put his father on speakerphone during calls with various contacts.

Congressman James Comer, who is leading the inquiry in the House of Representatives oversight committee, has alleged that the then-VP was "the brand" sold to enrich the Biden family.

On 9 August, Mr Comer cited bank records obtained by his panel that he said showed the Biden family and its associates had earned $20m from oligarchs in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine during his vice-presidency.

On 13 September, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry into the president, alleging a "culture of corruption" within his family.

Mr McCarthy said the inquiry would focus on "allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption" by Joe Biden, though several Republicans questioned whether there was enough evidence to seek the president's removal.

The White House has said it is an "inquiry based on lies".

The child in Arkansas

Separately, Hunter Biden's alcohol and drug abuse, and relationship strife have provided ample fodder for the tabloids - and at least some measure of pain to his family.

In 2019, a DNA test confirmed that, despite his repeated denials, Hunter Biden had fathered a child with an Arkansas woman who filed a paternity suit against him.

Lunden Alexis Roberts has since settled that suit, with her child - Navy, now 4 - receiving an undisclosed amount in monetary child support as well as some of Mr Biden's paintings.


Ms Roberts also agreed to drop a previous effort to have her daughter's last name changed to Biden.

Amid pressure from US media, President Biden was forced to acknowledge his seventh grandchild for the first time in late July.


Hunter Biden's plea deal collapsed. What happens now?

By Anthony Zurcher,North America correspondent,@awzurcher
Reuters Hunter Biden leaves court

Hunter Biden's deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to two misdemeanour tax evasion charges and defer punishment for lying on a gun license application collapsed in dramatic fashion in a Delaware federal courtroom on Wednesday.

As a room full of reporters watched, the presiding judge, Maryellen Noreika, questioned the assembled lawyers about details of the agreement, revealing that the federal team led by David Weiss, the Donald Trump-appointed US attorney in Delaware who is in charge of the Biden investigation, and Mr Biden's lawyers, had very different views on what it contained.

Eventually, Mr Biden's side agreed to the prosecution's view - but that proved to be just the first stumbling block. The judge then questioned the gun deal - in which no charges would be filed if Mr Biden stayed out of legal trouble and did not attempt to purchase firearms for two years.

The agreement made Ms Noreika, rather than the justice department, the arbiter of whether Mr Biden was keeping his end of the agreement, a provision she found to be of questionable legality.


After she told the lawyers she could not decide the matter without further review, Mr Biden pleaded not guilty to the two tax charges and the judge told the sides they would have 30 days to reach a new agreement that addressed her concerns.

"You are all saying, 'Just rubber stamp the agreement'," Ms Noreika told the lawyers. "I'm not in a position to accept or reject it. I need to defer."

In the meantime, there are more questions than there are answers.

What did the prosecution and defence lawyers disagree about?

At the heart of Wednesday's dispute was exactly how much immunity from future prosecution the plea deal will give Hunter Biden. Defence attorneys said they understood that the agreement would protect their client from any future indictments by federal prosecutors over his business dealings.

Federal prosecutors disagreed, telling the judge the plea agreement only covered tax crimes and Mr Biden's false claim he was not a drug addict when he applied for a 2018 gun license.


It's typical for defence attorneys to press for the broadest level of protection for their clients when entering plea negotiations. Prosecutors, on the other hand, tend to want to keep their options open. These details are usually hammered out well ahead of a courtroom appearance, however.

The Biden team has a particular interest in limiting the justice department's range of future options, both in new prosecutions and determining violations of the gun agreement, to prevent a Republican president from reopening the inquiry in 2025.

In the end, the two sides agreed that Mr Biden would be protected from further tax and gun charges stemming from activities that took place between 2014 and 2019.

Why did the judge mention a foreign agents law?

When asked by congressional investigators, Mr Weiss and federal prosecutors have said that their investigations are "ongoing" despite the plea deal.


During their Wednesday court appearance, Judge Noreika specifically asked the prosecution team about whether the plea deal would prevent a prosecution for violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara) - a federal law that requires individuals who are engaging in political advocacy on behalf of foreign governments, businesses or nationals to inform the federal government of their activities.

The prosecutors said it did not.

There has been widespread speculation that Mr Weiss's team has been looking into possible Fara violations, given that Mr Biden had frequent contacts with Chinese and Ukrainian individuals and businesses as part of his international business dealings.

While the prosecutors did not confirm this was an ongoing area of investigation, the judge's questions will further fuel speculation.

Fara prosecutions were rare until recent years and typically come through plea deals and not trials.


Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to a Fara charge in 2019, as did former Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy in 2020. Both were subsequently pardoned by Mr Trump.

What happens next in the case?

The clock is ticking on the 30-day deadline for prosecutors and Mr Biden's lawyers to reach a plea agreement that won't collapse when it reaches the courtroom.

If they can't, the judge could set a trial date for the two misdemeanour tax violations the presidential son is already facing - and prosecutors could add more serious criminal violations to the charge sheet.

If a new deal is reached, Judge Noreika will have to approve it - and then issue a sentence. While the prosecutors had recommended parole and no jail time as part of the previous deal, the judge will make her own determination as to the appropriate punishment.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans, who are conducting their own investigation of Mr Biden's business activities will continue their inquiries.

They had actively opposed the previous plea agreement, which they considered too lenient for Mr Biden.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer has said that committee Republicans believe that President Biden may be more closely tied to Hunter Biden's businesses than was previously disclosed.

Mr Weiss had promised to testify to Congress sometime after August to explain the plea deal and his prosecutorial decisions, but that becomes less likely if his office takes Mr Biden to trial on tax charges or is actively investigating other possible criminal violations.

Hunter Biden: What was he doing in China and Ukraine?

 Getty Images Award ceremony picture of Joe and Hunter Biden

 Vice-President Biden in 2016 with his son Hunter looking on

What was Hunter Biden doing in China and Ukraine?

Hunter Biden, second son of US President Joe Biden, is being investigated by the Justice Department over his finances including, according to US media reports, some of his business dealings in China.

During the 2020 election campaign, he and his father were frequently accused by Donald Trump and his associates of wrongdoing in regards to China and Ukraine, allegations which they both denied.

The New York Post reported on an alleged email in which an adviser from a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, apparently thanked Hunter for inviting him to meet his father, Joe Biden.

Asked about the allegations, Joe Biden told a reporter it was a "smear campaign". No criminal activity has been proven, and no evidence has emerged that Mr Biden did anything to intentionally benefit his son.

In an interview with the BBC months after his father was sworn in as president, Hunter Biden defended his qualifications for the position at Burisma but added that, in retrospect, he had "missed... the perception that I would create".


Claims of influence-peddling are common in Washington DC and Mr Trump's children have also been accused of conflicts of interest in lucrative business deals overseas. They, too, deny wrongdoing.

What do we know about the federal investigation?

The Justice Department is investigating Hunter Biden's finances including scrutinising some of his past Chinese business dealings and other transactions, a "person familiar with the matter" told The Associated Press in December.

The tax investigation was launched in 2018 but Hunter Biden said he had learned about it for the first time in December 2020.

Asked about the investigation by US broadcaster CBS this April, the president's son said: "I'm co-operating, completely. And I'm absolutely certain, 100% certain, that at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing."

What have the Bidens been accused of in China?

The New York Post cited a purported email from Hunter Biden in August 2017 indicating he was receiving a $10m annual fee from a Chinese billionaire for "introductions alone", though it is unclear who was involved in the alleged introductions.

Another purported email, which Fox News said it had confirmed, reportedly refers to a deal pursued by Hunter involving China's largest private energy firm. It is said to include a cryptic mention of "10 held by H for the big guy".

Fox News cited unnamed sources as saying "the big guy" in the purported email was a reference to Joe Biden. This message is said to be from May 2017. Both emails would date from when the former US vice-president was a private citizen.

A former business associate of Hunter Biden has come forward to say he can confirm the allegations.

Tony Bobulinski told Fox News that, contrary to Joe Biden's statements that he had nothing to do with his son's business affairs, Hunter had "frequently referenced asking him for his sign-off or advice on various potential deals" in China.

Mr Bobulinski, who is reportedly a US Navy veteran, separately told Fox News' Tucker Carlson that he had met on two occasions with Joe Biden to discuss business deals with China, the first time in May 2017 when Barack Obama's former vice-president was a private citizen.

He says he asked Joe Biden's brother, James, whether the family was concerned about possible scrutiny of the former vice-president's involvement in a potential business deal with a Chinese entity. Mr Bobulinski told Fox News that James Biden had replied: "Plausible deniability."

Mr Bobulinski was invited by Mr Trump to be his guest at the final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee on 22 October.

What is known about Hunter's dealings in China?

In 2013, Hunter flew aboard Air Force Two with his father, who was then vice-president, on an official visit to Beijing, where the younger Biden met investment banker Jonathan Li.

Hunter told the New Yorker he had just met Mr Li for "a cup of coffee", but 12 days after the trip a private equity fund, BHR Partners, was approved by the Chinese authorities. Mr Li was chief executive and Hunter was a board member. He would hold a 10% stake.

Getty Images Bidens

Joe Biden walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter and son, Hunter Biden

BHR is backed by some of China's largest state banks and by local governments, according to US media.

Hunter Biden's lawyer said he had joined the board in an unpaid position "based on his interest in seeking ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets".

His lawyer also said his client did not acquire his financial stake in BHR until 2017, after his father had left office in the US.

Hunter resigned from the board of BHR in April 2020, but still held his 10% stake in BHR as of July this year, according to the company report.

What did the New York Post say about Hunter Biden and Ukraine?

The New York Post reported an email from April 2015, in which an adviser to Burisma, Vadym Pozharskyi, apparently thanked Hunter Biden for inviting him to meet his father in Washington.


Hunter was a director on the board of Burisma - a Ukrainian-owned private energy company while his father was the Obama administration's pointman on US-Ukrainian relations. Hunter was one of several foreigners on its board.

The New York Post article did not provide evidence that the meeting had ever taken place. The Biden election campaign said there was no record of any such meeting on the former vice-president's "official schedule" from the time.

But in a statement to Politico, the campaign also acknowledged that Mr Biden could have had an "informal interaction" with the Burisma adviser that did not appear on his official schedule, though it said any such encounter would have been "cursory".

"Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as 'not legitimate' and political by a GOP colleague, have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official US policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing," said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr Biden.

What we know about Biden-Ukraine corruption claims

Mr Biden's team has also decried the New York Post story as "Russian disinformation", though it did not say the emails were bogus.

The New York Post article was shared by President Trump and his allies. Two of his former advisers, Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, were involved in providing the story and the hard drive containing the alleged emails, to the newspaper.

Mr Giuliani says the messages were found on a laptop that Hunter dropped off at a Delaware repair shop in April 2019.

Sceptics have noted that Mr Giuliani travelled in December 2019 to Kyiv where he met Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach, whom the US Treasury has designated as a longtime Kremlin agent. Mr Giuliani has acknowledged trying dig up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine.

But the US Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, told Fox Business that the purported emails were not connected to a Russian disinformation effort.

Other US media say they have been unable to verify the authenticity of the emails. Hunter has neither confirmed nor denied that he dropped off a laptop at the location.

Hunter joined Burisma in 2014, and remained on the board until April 2019, when he decided to leave.

Speaking to the BBC, he said Burisma had seen his name "as gold" and that it had played a large part in his appointment to the board.

What are the Bidens accused of in Ukraine?

Donald Trump and his allies accused Joe Biden of wrongdoing because he had pushed, while vice-president, for the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor, who was investigating the company for which Hunter worked.


In 2016, Joe Biden called for the dismissal of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, whose office had Burisma and other companies under investigation.

However, other Western leaders and major bodies that give financial support to Ukraine also wanted the prosecutor dismissed because they believed he was not active enough in tackling corruption.

What else has the Biden campaign said?

Shortly before the final presidential debate last year, the Democrat's camp released a statement denying wrongdoing.

"Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever," said the statement.

"He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him.


"What is true is that Tony Bobulinski admitted on the record to Breitbart that he is angry that he was *not* able to go into business with Hunter and James Biden [Joe Biden's brother]."

What did this have to do with impeachment?

In 2019, details emerged of a phone call Mr Trump, the then president, had made to the president of Ukraine, in which he had urged the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens.

This led to charges by the Democrats that Mr Trump was trying to illegally pressure Ukraine to help damage his election rival, resulting in impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Mr Trump denied he had done anything wrong, and he was later acquitted by the Republican-controlled US Senate.

Getty Images Trump

President Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post the day after the US Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachment

 Has anything been proven against the Bidens?
While no criminal activity has been proven, it has raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.
A senior State Department official raised such concerns as far back as 2015.

US Republican lawmakers launched an investigation and found last year that Hunter's work for the Ukrainian firm had been "problematic" - but there wasn't evidence that US foreign policy was influenced by it.
No criminal charges were proven against Burisma either. The company issued a statement in 2017 saying "all legal proceedings and pending criminal allegations" against it were closed.
Last year, Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor in Ukraine who succeeded Viktor Shokin, told the BBC that there was no reason to investigate the Bidens under Ukrainian law.
There is nothing illegal about sitting on a board of a company whilst family members serve in government.
Hunter Biden's lawyers said in statement in October 2019 that he had undertaken "these business activities independently. He did not believe it appropriate to discuss them with his father, nor did he."
Hunter told the New Yorker magazine that on the only occasion he had mentioned Burisma: "Dad said, 'I hope you know what you are doing.'"
Amid all the scrutiny, Joe Biden promised last year that if he was elected president, no-one in his family would hold a job or have a business relationship with a foreign corporation or foreign government.

 President Joe Biden acknowledges seventh grandchild for first time
29 July 2023 By James Gregory,BBC News
Reuters US President Joe Biden speaking at Auburn Manufacturing in Maine on 28 July
President Joe Biden has faced criticism for his past decision not to acknowledge his granddaughter

President Joe Biden has publicly acknowledged a seventh grandchild for the first time.

The four-year-old girl, Navy, is the child of Mr Biden's son, Hunter, who recently settled a court battle over child support.

"Jill and I only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy," President Biden said on Friday.

The president had been criticised by both Republicans and Democrats over his previous decision not to recognise her.

In a statement to People magazine acknowledging the child for the first time, Mr Biden said it was "not a political issue, it's a family matter".

He added that his son was working with Navy's mother, Lunden Roberts, to "foster a relationship that is in the best interests of their daughter, preserving her privacy as much as possible going forward".

Hunter Biden's paternity of Navy was established through DNA testing after Ms Roberts sued for child support.


He wrote about his encounter with Ms Roberts in his 2021 memoir, saying it came while he was deep in addiction to alcohol and drugs.

"I had no recollection of our encounter," he wrote. "That's how little connection I had with anyone. I was a mess, but a mess I've taken responsibility for."

President Biden had come under increasing criticism from Republicans over his failure to mention Navy, with some claiming it was at odds with his public image as a family man.

House Republican Elise Stefanik accused Mr Biden of "cold, heartless, selfish and cowardly" behaviour following the conclusion of the legal battle in June.

"Every American knows that Joe Biden should have done the right thing years ago and acknowledged all of his grandchildren," she told the Daily Mail.

In April, Mr Biden said he was "crazy" about his six grandchildren and he spoke to them every day.

Hunter Biden has four other children, including a son Beau - named after the president's late son who died in 2015


Why do Kevin McCarthy's Republicans want to impeach Joe Biden now?

By Anthony Zurcher,North America correspondent,@awzurcher
Reuters McCarthy and Biden shake hands at the State of the Union address
The political rivals met at Mr Biden's State of the Union address to Congress

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

After weeks of hints and veiled suggestions, the California Republican took the plunge in a brief statement to the press that there were "serious and credible allegations into President Biden's conduct" that "taken together" necessitated further investigation.

Impeachment by the House of Representatives is the first step in a formal process to remove a president - or other senior executive or judicial official - from office. It requires a simple majority vote in the chamber to trigger a trial in the US Senate, where a two-thirds majority is necessary for conviction and removal.

President Donald Trump was impeached twice when Democrats controlled the House - over Ukraine in 2019 and the January 6 Capitol riot in 2021 - but was acquitted by the Senate on both occasions.

What could President Biden be impeached for?

In his announcement to reporters at the US Capitol, Mr McCarthy ticked through a series of accusations against the president and the president's son, Hunter Biden.

He accused the president of lying about knowledge of his son's business dealings and said that "Biden family members" had received millions of dollars in payments from shell companies and that transactions had been flagged as questionable by the US Treasury Department. He noted that an FBI informant had passed along an allegation that Mr Biden had taken a bribe in exchange for official actions as vice-president, and that he had used his government office to coordinate with his son's business partners.

Mr McCarthy also alleged that the Biden administration had given the president's family and associates special treatment during its investigations into possible criminal violations.

Republicans have not found concrete evidence of misconduct by the president, however.

The speaker's action came approximately two months after a House committee heard testimony from two Internal Revenue Service officials who claimed Mr Biden's Justice Department prevented a more thorough investigation of the president's involvement in Hunter Biden's personal finances.

In late July, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley released a Federal Bureau of Investigation document detailing how a trusted intelligence source had passed along allegations that the Biden family had received two $5 million payments from a Ukrainian energy company after then Vice-President Biden pressured Ukraine to remove a senior government official in charge of investigating corruption.

Neither the IRS investigators nor the FBI document provided conclusive evidence of illegal or improper conduct by the president, but Republicans in the House asserted that the information was enough to trigger a formal impeachment inquiry.

What powers would an impeachment inquiry have?

Mr McCarthy said that impeachment proceedings would give House Republicans "the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public". Courts have traditionally given congressional committees more sweeping authority to issue and enforce subpoenas for documents and testimony when those orders are issued as part of an impeachment inquiry.

In July, Mr McCarthy drew parallels with the administration of Richard Nixon, who was the target of a congressional inquiry in 1974 but resigned before he was formally impeached.


"We're watching this administration use government much like Richard Nixon by denying us to get the information that we need," he said.

In the past, the House speaker had been reluctant to endorse calls from some Republicans in his chamber to initiate impeachment proceedings, saying that it was too soon to follow that course of action. He was under increasing pressure from right-wing members of his party to move more quickly, however. And with only a narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives and tough votes on government spending looming in the coming weeks, Mr McCarthy changed course.

But even that many not be enough to satisfy the speaker's conservative critics. Shortly after Mr McCarthy's impeachment announcement, Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida took to the floor of the House of Representatives to express his disappointment.

"This is a baby step following weeks of pressure from House conservatives to do more," he said. "We must move faster."

Could Biden be removed from office?

The ultimate success of an impeachment resolution in the House is very much in doubt. Republicans hold a narrow majority in the chamber and some centrists in the party, contemplating challenging re-election races in November 2024, have expressed unease with moving forward with a process that will only enflame political divisions in America. 

The Biden team was quick to push back against Mr McCarthy's impeachment announcement.

"House Republicans have been investigating the President for nine months, and they've turned up no evidence of wrongdoing," White House spokesperson Ian Sams wrote in a social media post.

Only three US presidents have been impeached - Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Donald Trump twice. None was convicted by the Senate.

Democrats currently have a 51-49 majority in the Senate, virtually ensuring that any Biden impeachment referral from the House will meet a similar fate.

Hunter Biden: Who are the IRS tax whistleblowers?

By Anthony Zurcher,North America correspondent,@awzurcher

 Getty Images The two witnesses being sworn in

Two Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigators have testified to Congress that the investigation into Hunter Biden's tax returns were hampered by justice department officials for political reasons.

They allege that Mr Biden, who agreed on 20 June to plead guilty to two misdemeanour tax offences and a felony firearm violation, should have been charged with more serious crimes.

Instead, they claim, he received more lenient treatment because he is the son of US President Joe Biden.

Here are the basics of the story.

Who are the whistleblowers?

The two IRS employees who testified about the Hunter Biden investigation are Gary Shapley, a supervisory special agent, and Joseph Zielger, a criminal investigator.

Mr Shapley has worked for the IRS for 14 years and serves as a team leader in the agency's International Tax and Financial Crimes group, which oversaw the IRS investigation into Hunter Biden.

Mr Ziegler, whose identity was concealed until he publicly testified to the House Oversight Committee on 19 July, has worked in the IRS Criminal Investigations Division for 13 years. In November 2018, he initiated an inquiry into Hunter Biden's tax filings.

That investigation would subsequently be merged with a Delaware-based federal investigation of Mr Biden's finances that began in January 2019 and is headed by US Attorney for Delaware David Weiss.

During his testimony, Mr Ziegler told the committee he is a "gay Democrat married to a man" - although he said this was no reason to give his testimony extra credibility.

Getty Images Joseph Ziegler, right, IRS criminal investigator, and Gary Shapley, IRS supervisory special agent, testify during the House Oversight and Accountability Committee

IRS supervisory special agent Gary Shapley (left) and IRS criminal investigator Joseph Ziegler

What are they alleging?

During their public testimony, the two men said that throughout the Hunter Biden investigation, decisions were made that benefited the president's son.

The two whistleblowers accuse Delaware Assistant US Attorney Lesley Wolf, an assistant to Mr Weiss, of repeatedly blocking further investigation into Hunter Biden. They say she denied a request for a search warrant of Joe Biden's Wilmington home, where Hunter Biden kept some of his financial records, citing "optics".

They say she also prevented investigators from asking about Joe Biden's connection to his son's finances and denied a request to interview Mr Biden's adult grandchildren about their connections to deductions claimed on Hunter Biden's tax returns.

She informed Mr Biden's lawyers that investigators were interested in documents contained in a rented northern Virginia storage unit, allowing Mr Biden the opportunity to access the unit before investigators could take action, they say.

"I have reason to believe that there was gross mismanagement present throughout the investigation, that there was a gross waste of funds relating to the tax dollars spent on investigation this case and that there was an abuse of authority," said Mr Zielger during his testimony.

Mr Shapley said that the IRS had largely concluded its investigation by the end of 2021 and recommended that Hunter Biden be charged with multiple tax fraud felonies. The agency officially referred those conclusions to US government attorneys in Washington DC, in February 2022, and in California in September 2022. Neither took action.

Ultimately, Mr Weiss brought charges against Mr Biden as part of a plea deal - but for misdemeanours that carry no prison time, not the felonies the IRS investigators recommended.

In a 7 October 2022 meeting, Mr Shapley described how Mr Weiss told a group of senior IRS and FBI officials that he "was not the deciding person on whether charges are filed". Mr Shapley documented the meeting, which he attended, in an email later that day to an IRS colleague.

"That was my red line," Mr Shapley said during his Oversight Committee testimony. "The justice department allowed the president's political appointees to weigh in on whether to charge the president's son." 

He said the following month, the statute of limitations was allowed to lapse on Hunter Biden's 2014 and 2015 tax returns, even though prosecutors could have sought an extension.

 Getty Images President Biden (left) and his son Hunter watch July 4th fireworks at the White House
President Biden (left) and his son Hunter watch July 4th fireworks at the White House

How has US Attorney Weiss responded?

When Mr Biden took office in January 2021, he announced that he would keep Mr Weiss, a Donald Trump appointee, in his job as US attorney in Delaware to continue the Hunter Biden investigation. Typically, all US attorneys appointed by a previous administration tender resignations so they can be replaced by the new president.

That has not insulated Mr Weiss from accusations by Republicans that he has succumbed to political pressure when he offered Hunter Biden the plea deal on reduced tax charges.

Mr Weiss has repeatedly been asked by Republican members of Congress about the extent of his power to investigate Mr Biden.

In a 6 June 2023 letter to House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, he wrote: "I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution, consistent with federal law, the principles of federal prosecution and department regulation."

In a follow-up letter, Mr Weiss said he stood by what he wrote, adding that he had been assured by justice department officials that he would be granted authority to bring charges outside of Delaware if he deemed it necessary.

Getty Images Top Democrat on the panel Jamie Raskin (left) and Republican Chairman James Comer

Top Democrat on the panel Jamie Raskin (left) and Republican Chairman James Comer


What are Democrats saying?

During the 19 July whistleblower hearing, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin characterised the objections the two men had with Mr Weiss and the justice department as typical disagreements between investigators who gather evidence of crimes and prosecutors who have to exercise discretion over whether that evidence is sufficient to bring charges and obtain convictions.

Mr Raskin said that Hunter Biden, suffering from grief over the death of his elder brother and while addicted to drugs, "made foolish and criminal choices, including failing to pay his taxes". But he said he is being held criminally responsible.

Democrats also pointed out that much of the justice department conduct to which the whistleblowers object, including investigative delays and procedural blocks, took place in 2020, during the Trump administration, when Joe Biden was a private citizen.

The justice department and the White House have denied any interference in Mr Weiss' investigation and have said that the president has never been involved in his son's business dealings.

What happens next?

Hunter Biden will be arraigned on his plea deal charges on 26 July.

House Republicans pledge to continue their investigations into the younger Biden's finances and any connections they may have to the president.

The whistleblower testimony has renewed calls by some conservatives to bring impeachment proceedings against US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who they say lied to Congress when he testified that Mr Weiss's investigation was free from influence by justice department political employees.

Republicans will also continue to press for Mr Weiss to personally testify before Congress - something that the justice department has said will happen "at an appropriate time", after the Hunter Biden investigation has concluded.

That investigation is ongoing the justice department said in June, after Hunter Biden's plea agreement was announced.

 Joe Biden's son defends foreign dealings

Hunter Biden's plea deal collapsed. What happens now?

What to know about Hunter Biden's legal troubles

Hunter Biden's plea deal collapsed. What happens now?

Why do Republicans want to impeach Biden now?