The indictment against the president’s son comes after a plea agreement on tax and gun charges fell apart in July and amid a probe of his finances by House Republicans.
Federal prosecutors have indicted Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, on gun charges, court documents show.
Biden was indicted Thursday in Delaware federal court on three counts tied to the possession of a gun while using narcotics.
Two counts are tied to Biden allegedly completing a form indicating he was not using illegal drugs when he purchased a Colt Cobra revolver in October 2018. The third count alleges that he possessed a firearm while using a narcotic. The indictment says Biden certified on a federally mandated form “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.”
Two of the counts carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, while the third has a maximum of five years. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
The historic indictment against the son of a sitting president comes after a plea deal that might have ended a yearslong 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.
The case is being overseen by special counsel David Weiss, who also headed the investigation. Weiss is a Trump appointee who was kept on as U.S. attorney for Delaware because of the sensitive and unique nature of the investigation into a president’s son by the Justice Department, a part of the executive branch headed by the president. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland named Weiss special counsel in August, as negotiations over the tax and gun charges collapsed.
The White House referred requests for comment to the Justice Department and Hunter Biden’s legal team.
Weiss declined to comment on the investigation when approached by NBC News on Thursday before the indictment was unsealed.
An attorney for Hunter Biden, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement that the new charges are politically influenced and unwarranted. “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.
Weiss’s investigation was opened in 2018, the year before Joe Biden announced his candidacy for president, according to a source familiar with the inquiry, and focused on the younger Biden’s finances.
The two sides reached a plea agreement in July that called for Hunter Biden to plead guilty in Delaware federal court to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his taxes in return for prosecutors recommending a sentence of probation. A separate felony gun charge for illegally owning the Colt Cobra .38 Special handgun would have been dropped in two years if Biden honored the terms of what’s known as a diversion agreement.
The plea agreement started to fall apart at the court appearance where it was expected to be finalized after the judge presiding over the case raised questions about some details. “The agreements are not straightforward and they contain some atypical provisions,” U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika noted, including one that could theoretically protect Biden from other tax-related crimes in the same time period.