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, Wilmington, Delaware, July 26, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Hunter Biden will plead not guilty during his initial court appearance for three federal felony gun charges, his attorney said Tuesday as he denied that the son of President Joe Biden is asking for “special treatment” at his first court appearance in the case.
Hunter’s lawyer Abbe Lowell revealed that planned plea as he asked a judge to hold the court appearance by video conference instead of in person at U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden, who lives in California, “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.
The court appearance has not yet been scheduled.
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 with two counts of lying about his illegal drug use in connection with his purchase of a Colt Cobra revolver. The third count accuses him of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful drug user.
Lowell wrote in Tuesday’s letter that Biden was “not seeking any special treatment” by requesting the video conference for his first appearance in court on the charges.
Conducting the court hearing via video would “minimize an unnecessary burden on government resources and the disruption to the courthouse and downtown areas” in Wilmington from Secret Service agents accompanying Biden, 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, the judge noted in a court order Monday that directed them to respond by Wednesday.
Lowell’s letter called prosecutors’ opposition “puzzling,” arguing that he was making a “common-sense request in seeking 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 had intended to plead guilty to those charges, but his deal with prosecutors fell apart in court under scrutiny from a judge.
Biden also expected to enter into a pretrial diversion agreement on a gun-related crime at that time that could have seen him avoid being criminally charged with a firearm count if he complied with the deal’s conditions for two years.
After the plea deal on the tax charges collapsed, U.S. Attorney David Weiss said that the gun charge diversion agreement had been withdrawn.
But Lowell argues that the deal took effect and thus bars Biden from being charged with the gun crimes. Lowell also has said the charges are unconstitutional as a result of a 2022 Supreme Court ruling knocking down a New York 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 been following and will continue to follow the conditions of that Agreement.”