Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden, arrives in federal court to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of willful failure to pay income taxes, Wilmington, Delaware, July 26, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Hunter Biden will plead not guilty in his first court appearance to three federal felony gun charges, his attorney said Tuesday as he denied that President Joe Biden’s son is asking for “special treatment” in his first court appearance in case.
Hunter’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, revealed the planned plea as he asked a judge to hold the court appearance via video conference instead of in person at US District Court in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden, who lives in California, “will forego reading the indictment, which is only a few pages long and can easily be read over a video conference,” Lowell wrote in a two-page letter to Judge Christopher Burke.
“Mr. Biden will also enter a plea of not guilty, and there is no reason why he cannot utter those two words via video conference,” Lowell wrote.
A court appearance has not yet been scheduled.
Biden, 53, was indicted last week on three felony counts related to his possession of a firearm while an illegal drug user.
Biden, who has been open about his struggles with substance abuse, was charged with two counts of lying about his illegal drug use in connection with his purchase of a Colt Cobra revolver. The third count charges him with possession of a firearm by a person using illegal drugs.
Lowell wrote in Tuesday’s letter that Biden is “not seeking any special treatment” by requesting a video conference for his first court appearance on the charges.
Conducting the court hearing via video would “reduce an unnecessary burden on government resources and the disruption to the courthouse and downtown areas” in Wilmington from Secret Service agents accompanying Biden, he said. Lowell.
“Without the details, multiple agents and vehicles are required for what should be a two-day event (for a trial that could be very short in duration),” the lawyer wrote.
Federal prosecutors are contesting Biden’s bid for a virtual appearance, the judge said in a court order Monday ordering them to respond by Wednesday.
Lowell’s letter called prosecutors’ opposition “puzzling,” arguing that he was making a “common-sense request to seek a video appearance.
Biden in late July pleaded not guilty to separate misdemeanor charges of failing to pay federal taxes on more than $1.5 million in annual income in 2017 and 2018.
He intended to plead guilty to those charges, but his deal with prosecutors broke down in court under scrutiny by a judge.
Biden is also expected to enter into a pretrial diversion agreement on a gun-related crime at the time that could see him avoid criminal weapons charges if he abides by the terms of the deal within two year.
After the plea deal on the tax charges fell through, US Attorney David Weiss said the deal to transfer the gun charges was withdrawn.
But Lowell maintains that the agreement went into effect and thus prevents Biden from being charged with gun crimes. Lowell also said the charges are unconstitutional as a result of a 2022 Supreme Court decision that struck down New York’s gun law. All six conservatives on the Supreme Court, three of whom were appointed by former President Donald Trump, voted in favor of that decision.
Lowell noted in a court filing earlier this month that Biden “has complied and will continue to comply with the terms of that Agreement.”