Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to 3 federal gun charges filed after his plea deal collapsed

Hunter Biden smiles as he walks into court.
Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance Tuesday in Wilmington, Del.
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three federal firearms charges that were filed after his earlier plea deal imploded, setting the case on track for a possible trial in 2024 as his father campaigns for reelection.

President Biden’s son has been charged with lying in October 2018 about his drug use on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days. He could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

When asked by Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke whether he understood the charges against him, Hunter Biden said, “Yes, Your Honor.”


His attorney Abbe Lowell said in court he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges, challenging their constitutionality.

“Mr. Biden pleads not guilty to the three counts that have been brought against him,” Lowell said to the judge.

Hunter Biden has acknowledged that he was struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine during that period in 2018, but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law. Gun charges like these are rare, and an appeals court has found that under new Supreme Court standards, the ban on drug users having guns violates the 2nd Amendment.

On Tuesday, the judge noted that Hunter Biden had repeatedly tested negative for drugs.

His lawyers are suggesting prosecutors charged him due to pressure from Republicans who claimed the Democratic president’s son had previously gotten a sweetheart plea deal.

This summer, Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges and would have avoided prosecution on the gun charges had he stayed out of trouble for two years.

The agreement, the culmination of a years-long investigation by federal prosecutors into his business dealings, would have dispensed with criminal proceedings and spared the Bidens weeks of headlines as the election loomed.


The deal broke down after the judge who was to sign off on it instead raised a series of questions about it.

Now, a special counsel has been appointed to handle the case, and there appears no easy end in sight. Hunter Biden was indicted on the three gun charges, but no new tax charges have been filed — the special counsel has indicated those could come in Washington or in California, where Hunter Biden lives.

Defense attorneys have argued that he remains protected by an immunity provision that was part of the scuttled plea agreement, but prosecutors overseen by special counsel David Weiss disagree.

Weiss also serves as U.S. attorney for Delaware, and was originally appointed by former President Trump.

Lowell said on Tuesday that he planned to file “a number of motions,” including a push to dismiss the case based on the immunity agreement in the now-scuttled plea deal and the constitutionality of the law against drug users having guns.

Lowell also said the defense plans to ask for an evidentiary hearing.

In Congress, House Republicans are seeking to link Hunter Biden’s dealings to his father’s through an impeachment inquiry. Republicans have been investigating the younger Biden for years, since his father was Barack Obama’s vice president.


While questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business, no evidence has emerged to prove that Joe Biden, in his current or previous office, abused his role or accepted bribes.

The legal wrangling is likely to spill into 2024, with Republicans eager to divert attention from the multiple criminal indictments faced by Trump, the front-runner in polls for the GOP primary, whose trials could be unfolding at the same time.

After remaining silent for years, Hunter Biden has taken a more aggressive legal stance in recent weeks, filing a series of lawsuits over the dissemination of personal information purportedly from his laptop and his tax data by whistleblower IRS agents who testified before Congress as part of the GOP probe.

Hunter Biden had asked for Tuesday’s hearing to be conducted remotely over video feed, but Burke sided with prosecutors, saying there would be no “special treatment.”