world News : Biden hugs son Hunter after guilty verdict in gun trial

world News : Biden hugs son Hunter after guilty verdict in gun trial
world News : Biden hugs son Hunter after guilty verdict in gun trial

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:47 PM

newsonline - Joe Biden's son has been found guilty of illegally buying a gun after hiding his drug use.

Hunter Biden, 54, was convicted of three firearm charges in the first criminal prosecution of a sitting US president's offspring.

Prosecutors said he lied on a form when buying a Colt Cobra revolver in October 2018 by stating he was not a drug user or addict, despite a problem with crack cocaine.

Hunter Biden latest: Trump campaign reacts to guilty verdict

Image: Hunter Biden leaves court. Pic: AP

Biden pleaded not guilty to felony charges that included lying about his addiction when he filled out a government screening document for the revolver and illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days.

First Lady Jill Biden was in the courtroom shortly after the verdicts - which came after the jury deliberated for about three hours - and was seen holding her stepson's hand as they left.

In a statement following the verdicts, President Biden said he accepted the outcome of the case, as his son considers making an appeal.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerHunter Biden, 54, walked out the courtroom holding Jill Biden’s hand after he was convicted of three firearm charges. 0:25

Hunter Biden leaves court after guilty verdict

The president was pictured embracing his son at Delaware Air National Guard Base hours after the guilty verdict was handed down.

The trial included testimony from Hunter Biden's ex-wife and sister-in-law, who gave accounts of his spiralling addiction in the weeks before and after buying the gun.

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Prosecutors also showed text messages, photos and bank records they said showed Biden was deep in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun.

Body blow to president that will supercharge Trump rhetoric

It is another moment without precedent for America. The son of a sitting president has been convicted on three felony counts in a federal court.

Beyond the seriousness of the crime itself, the trial has lifted a lid on the layered struggles and tragedies of one family. It could be any number of American families - except it is the nation's first family.

At its heart, it is a story of addiction, loss and grief which led to a criminal conviction. But because it's about the Bidens, it is also, inevitably, a story of politics and scandal.

The first family's private turmoil has played out in a public courtroom because one member of the family lied to obtain a gun.

It is a case that almost never came to trial. A plea bargain had been arranged - Hunter Biden would plead guilty to the tax fraud and the gun charges would be dropped.

But the plan fell apart.

Just as Donald Trump had been told he wasn't above the law, so too was Joe Biden's son. A trial began and history was made when the sitting president's son entered the courtroom.

For the full analysis, click here.

Biden's lawyers sought to show he was not using drugs when he bought the gun and didn't intend to deceive, as he didn't consider himself a drug user at the time.

The defence called Biden's daughter Naomi who testified her father seemed to be doing well when she saw him shortly before and after he bought the gun.

Biden did not testify at the trial, which was held in the family's hometown of Wilmington in Delaware.

The sentencing guidelines for the gun-related charges are 15 to 21 months, but legal experts say defendants in similar cases often get shorter sentences.

They are also less likely to see jail time if they abide by the terms of pre-trial release.

The judge did not set a sentencing date but said the hearing would be expected to take place within 120 days - which could place it a month before the US presidential election on 5 November.

Hunter Biden arriving at court with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden. Pic : Reuters
Image: Hunter Biden arriving at court with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden. Pic : Reuters

According to Sarah Fitzpatrick, senior investigations producer at Sky's US partner network NBC News, Biden thanked each person by name in a room with his defence team.

Citing sources close to Biden, it was said to be an "incredible human moment".

"It was an extraordinary moment that everyone around him in those minutes after the verdict will always remember," one person said.

The most emotional moment, according to Fitzpatrick, was when Mr Biden's voice almost cracked as he talked about how much he loves his mother and father and his wife Melissa.

Joe Biden and his son Hunter in 2022. Pic: Reuters
Image: Joe Biden and his son Hunter in 2022. Pic: Reuters

Biden's lawyers said they were "naturally disappointed" and will "continue to vigorously pursue all the legal challenges available".

He also faces a trial in September on charges of violating tax law, with prosecutors alleging he failed to pay $1.4m (£1.1m) in taxes between 2016 and 2019 while spending millions on drugs, escorts and other high-ticket items.

He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

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Tuesday's verdict followed another historic first after last month's criminal conviction of Mr Trump, the first former US president to be found guilty of a crime.

Democrats have pointed to this case as evidence President Biden is not using the justice system for political ends, having said last week he would not pardon his son if convicted.

The US president said he and wife Jill love their son and they are proud of the man he is today.

"So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery," he added.

Read more:
Hunter Biden conviction is latest twist in family story

"Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that."

Donald Trump described the trial as a "distraction" from the "real crimes of the Biden Crime Family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine".

There is no evidence that Joe Biden or any of his family members have received large sums of money from China, Russia or Ukraine or that he accepted any payment for government access.

An impeachment inquiry in the US House of Representatives has also not found any evidence tying the president to his son's business dealings.

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