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Hunter Biden charged with tax, firearm offenses in US

June 20, 2023

Joe Biden's son faces charges of tax offenses and of possessing a firearm illegally, given his past drug use. He has apparently reached an agreement with the Justice Department and intends to plead guilty.

 Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden
Hunter Biden's guilty plea deal will likely spare him possible prison timeImage: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

US President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden on Tuesday agreed to plead guilty to federal income tax charges in a deal he made with the US Justice Department, court documents showed.

A letter filed in a court in Delaware on Tuesday made the charges and Biden's apparent plans to plead guilty public, following a long-running Justice Department investigation into Joe Biden's second son. 

The agreement will also likely avert a trial, which could have created days or weeks of negative attention, with next year's presidential elections beginning to draw near.

What are the charges against Hunter Biden?

The charges state that the president's son failed to file his tax returns on earnings of over $1.5 million (€1.38 million) in 2017 and 2018, resulting in more than $100,000 being owed for both years.

The prosecution also said Biden was facing a charge of "possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance."

However, he will not face prosecution for the latter charge, instead agreeing to a program of counseling or rehabilitation. It's also unlikely he will face jail time for the first charge, although each count carries up to 12 months in prison and a hefty fine.

Hunter Biden's lawyer, Christopher Clark, said that, according to his understanding, the investigation into the president's son has been resolved.

"I know Hunter believes it is important to take responsibility for these mistakes he made during a period of turmoil and addiction in his life," Clark said. "He looks forward to continuing his recovery and moving forward."

President Biden gave no immediate comment on the charges and plea deal, but a White House statement expressed his support for his son.

"The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment," the statement said.

US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hug Hunter Biden after being sworn in as US president during his inauguration on the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20, 2021
Republicans have frequently used Hunter Biden, and his drug issues, as a means to attack President Joe BidenImage: Olivier Douliery/REUTERS

Hunter Biden's struggle with drugs

The charges are the upshot of an investigation led by Delaware prosecutor David Weiss, who was assigned to investigate Hunter Biden by former President Donald Trump.

The 53-year-old described in a 2021 memoir his struggle with narcotics addiction following the death of his elder brother, Beau Biden, in 2015. Reports circulated in the past suggesting his expulsion from the US Navy Reserve in 2014 was also the result of testing positive for cocaine. 

Republican politicians have been pushing for further investigations into Biden's past business dealings, including examining foreign payments. This ultimately stems from allegations against Hunter Biden first popularized by former President Trump, focused mainly on Biden's business dealings in Ukraine. He has worked as a lobbyist, lawyer, investment banker and artist in the past. 

Trump, who is himself facing serious felony charges over his handling of top-secret documents after leaving the White House, wrote on his Truth Social platform that Hunter's agreement amounted to a "mere traffic ticket."

ab, msh/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)