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Biden’s son Hunter is on trial on gun charges

Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden and his wife Melissa Cohen Biden arrive at Dover Air Force Base to board Air Force One with U.S. President Joe Biden in Dover, Delaware, on May 31, 2024. (AFP)

WILMINGTON — Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s long-troubled son, went on trial Monday on weapons charges in a historic first prosecution of a sitting president’s child — and a possible threat to his father’s reelection.

Hunter Biden, President Biden’s only surviving son, is accused of lying about his illegal drug use when buying a gun in 2018, a felony.

The 54-year-old arrived in court in his hometown of Wilmington accompanied by family members including First Lady Jill Biden, but not the president.

Jury selection was completed during the day, allowing arguments to open Tuesday in a trial expected to last one to two weeks.

President Biden said he and the first lady, who celebrated her 73rd birthday on Monday, were “so proud” of Hunter Biden.

“As president, I do not comment on pending federal matters, but as a father I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him and respect for his strength,” Biden said in a statement.

The trial comes days after a New York jury made history by finding Donald Trump guilty of corporate fraud, the first time a former president has ever been criminally convicted.

Trump, who is Joe Biden’s Republican challenger in November, faces three other, much more serious criminal charges, including his alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The Delaware trial — along with another in which Hunter Biden is charged in California with tax evasion — is an embarrassment for Joe Biden as he seeks a second term and hopes to keep the nation’s focus on Trump’s behavior.

In addition to being a political distraction, Hunter Biden’s legal troubles will reopen painful emotional wounds for the family from his time as a drug addict — a period that both he and his father have publicly discussed. Hunter Biden’s brother Beau died of cancer in 2015 and his sister Naomi died as an infant in a car crash in 1972.

Addiction

The Yale-educated attorney and lobbyist turned artist is accused of falsely stating on legal paperwork when purchasing a .38 caliber Colt Cobra revolver in 2018 that he did not use illegal drugs. He is also charged with illegal possession of the firearm, which he had in his possession for only eleven days in October that year.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty. He had previously reached a plea deal with prosecutors, but it fell through and led to the trial.

Prosecutors will often introduce uncomfortable evidence related to Hunter Biden’s years as an addict.

They called three of his former partners as witnesses, including Lunden Roberts, the mother of one of his children.

The president’s son, who has written tirelessly about his addiction, will argue that he did not consider himself an addict at the time he bought the revolver. He has stated that he has been sober since 2019.

If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison, although he could avoid any jail time as the first offender. He could also face fines of up to $750,000.

President Biden said Monday that his son’s difficulties would have broad resonance.

“Hunter’s resilience in the face of adversity and the strength he has contributed to his recovery are inspiring to us. Many families have loved ones who have overcome addiction and know what we mean,” he said.

Republican target

Hunter Biden has long been a target of Trump and far-right Republicans, amplified by extensive reporting on Fox News.

Gruesome photos from his time as an addict have been leaked, and Trump allies have extensively investigated him in Congress on charges of corruption and influence peddling. However, no charges were ever filed.

Hunter Biden’s messy private life and foreign business dealings in China and Ukraine have also provided the basis for efforts by Republicans in Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Biden. Those efforts also led nowhere.

The White House said last year that there would be no presidential pardon for Hunter Biden if convicted.