Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, arrives at federal court to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of willfully failing to pay income taxes in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., July 26, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, will plead not guilty during his initial court appearance on three federal felony gun charges, his attorney said Tuesday.
That lawyer, Abbe Lowell, revealed Biden’s intended plea as he asked a federal judge to hold that court appearance by video conference instead of in person.
Hunter Biden “will waive reading of the indictment, which is merely a few pages and could easily be read at a video conference,” Lowell wrote in a two-page letter to Judge Christopher Burke.
“Mr. Biden also will enter a plea of not guilty, and there is no reason why he cannot utter those two words by video conference,” Lowell wrote.
Biden, 53, was indicted last week on three criminal counts related to his possession of a firearm while being an unlawful drug user.
Biden, who has been open about his substance abuse struggles, is charged in two of the counts with 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 who is an unlawful drug user.
Lowell also wrote in Tuesday’s letter that Biden was “not seeking any special treatment.”
Rather, conducting the court hearing via video would “minimize an unnecessary burden on government resources and the disruption to the courthouse and downtown areas” from Secret Service agents accompanying Biden to court, Lowell argued.
“Without getting into specifics, numerous agents and vehicles are required for what would have to be a two-day event (for a proceeding that may be very short in duration),” the attorney wrote.
Federal prosecutors oppose Biden’s bid for a virtual appearance, Burke noted in a court order Monday directing them to respond by no later than Wednesday.
Lowell called their opposition “puzzling,” arguing that seeking a video appearance in this case is a “common-sense request.”
Biden in late July had 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 had intended to plead guilty to those charges, but his deal with prosecutors fell apart in court under scrutiny from a judge.
Biden was also expected to enter into a pretrial diversion agreement on gun-related charges at that time. After the plea deal on the tax charges collapsed, U.S. Attorney David Weiss said that the firearm-related diversion agreement had been withdrawn.
Lowell argues that the deal took effect and thus bars Biden from being charged with the gun crimes.
He noted in a a court filing earlier this month that Biden “has been following and will continue to follow the conditions of that Agreement.”