Prosecutors accuse Hunter Biden of making false statements to acquire firearm in 2018, US court document shows.
US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been charged with three criminal counts related to firearms possession, a United States court document showed.
In Thursday’s indictment, prosecutors accused Hunter of making false statements related to drug use in order to acquire a firearm in 2018.
The indictment, which was brought by US Special Counsel David Weiss in federal court in Delaware, comes after a deal for Hunter to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and enroll in a programme to avoid prosecution on a gun-related charge collapsed in July.
A White House spokesman referred questions on Thursday to the US Department of Justice and Hunter’s legal team, saying the charges stem from an independent investigation.
The case will no doubt play an outsized role in the 2024 US presidential campaign as Biden seeks re-election in a likely rematch with his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who leads the GOP’s nomination race.
It also comes just days after Republicans announced they would open an impeachment inquiry into the Democratic president – in large part over his son’s business dealings.
For years, Hunter, 53, has been the focus of attacks by Trump and his Republican allies, who have accused him of wrongdoing relating to dealings with Ukrainian and Chinese firms, among other issues.
Biden’s critics also have seized on Hunter’s personal troubles, including a long struggle with drug addiction, to hit out at the US president.
Prosecutors said in Thursday’s indictment that in an effort to procure a firearm, Hunter made a statement “certifying he was not an unlawful user of, an addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance”.
They said, however, that he knew the “statement was false and fictitious”.
The younger Biden would have been spared the gun charges had the plea agreement he reached with prosecutors earlier this year materialised. A federal judge put the deal on hold in July after voicing concerns about its scope.
Republicans had denounced the plea agreement, which would have seen Hunter Biden serve probation rather than jail time for tax violations.
On Thursday, right-wing Congressman Andy Biggs suggested that the gun charges are a trick intended to make the Justice Department appear fair. “Don’t fall for it,” he wrote in a social media post.
The Hunter Biden indictment on federal gun charges is a move to make you think that the DOJ is fair.
Don’t fall for it.
They’re trying to protect him from way more serious charges coming his way!
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) September 14, 2023
James Comer, Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, welcomed Thursday’s charges as a “very small start”, calling for more scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s involvement with foreign companies.
“The Justice Department’s sweetheart plea deal fell apart after a federal judge refused to rubber stamp it. Mountains of evidence revealed that Hunter Biden likely committed several felonies and Americans expect the Justice Department to apply the law equally,” Comer Said in a statement.
Democrats often stress that President Biden was not involved in his son’s business dealings and should not be penalised for his conduct.