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Hunter Biden Returns to Delaware Court 10/03 06:19


   WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- Hunter Biden is due back in a Delaware courtroom 
Tuesday, where he's expected to plead not guilty to federal firearms charges 
that emerged after his earlier deal collapsed.

   The president's son is facing charges that he lied about his drug use in 
October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days.

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

   Hunter Biden's attorneys are suggesting that prosecutors bowed to pressure 
by Republicans who have insisted the president's son got a sweetheart deal, and 
the charges were the result of political pressure.

   He was indicted after the implosion this summer of his plea agreement with 
federal prosecutors on tax and gun charges. The deal devolved after the judge 
who was supposed to sign off on the agreement instead raised a series of 
questions about the deal. Federal prosecutors had been looking into his 
business dealings for five years and the agreement would have dispensed with 
criminal proceedings before his father was actively campaigning for president 
in 2024.

   Now, a special counsel has been appointed to handle the case and there 
appears no easy end in sight. No new tax charges have yet been filed, but the 
special counsel has indicated they could come in California or Washington.

   In Congress, House Republicans are seeking to link Hunter Biden's dealings 
to his father's through an impeachment inquiry. Republicans have been 
investigating Hunter Biden for years, since his father was vice president. 
While questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family's 
international business, no evidence has emerged so far to prove that Joe Biden, 
in his current or previous office, abused his role or accepted bribes.

   The legal wrangling could spill into 2024, with Republicans eager to divert 
attention from the multiple criminal indictments faced by GOP primary 
frontrunner Donald Trump, 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.

   The president's son, who has not held public office, is charged with two 
counts of making false statements and one count of illegal gun possession, 
punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Under the failed deal, he would have 
pleaded guilty and served probation rather than jail time on misdemeanor tax 
charges and avoided prosecution on a single gun count if he stayed out of 
trouble for two years.

   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 Trump.

   Hunter Biden, who lives in California, had asked for Tuesday's hearing to be 
conducted remotely over video feed but U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke 
sided with prosecutors, saying there would be no "special treatment."

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