Jury finds Hunter Biden guilty of all charges in gun trial

Date: 2024-06-11T02:00:00+00:00

Location: www.bbc.co.uk

  1. Caitlin Wilson

    Reporting from Washington DC

  2. Here's what happened today surrounding Hunter Biden's guilty verdict:

    • Hunter Biden has been found guilty of lying about his drug use when buying a gun. After three hours of deliberation, the jury found him guilty on three charges.
    • He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison for all three counts. An exact date for sentencing has not been scheduled, though the judge has said it usually takes place within 120 days.
    • Hunter Biden showed little emotion as the guilty verdicts were read out, staring ahead with his arms folded before turning around to hug some of the associates on his legal team.
    • US President Joe Biden released a statement saying he will "accept the outcome of the case" and "will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal". The president reiterated his support for his son. "Nothing will ever change that," he said.
    • Will President Biden pardon his son? It is within his power to issue a pardon, but the president has confirmed he would not pardon his son for his guilty convictions.
    • The verdict has become a political talking point, with multiple Republicans weighing in and pointing to what they say are other more serious concerns around by Hunter Biden's actions, including alleged questions around his business dealings. Former US President Donald Trump's campaign called the verdict a "distraction".
  3. Bernd Debusmann Jr

    Reporting from Wilmington, Delaware

    Even while he agreed with prosecutors and voted to convict Hunter Biden, Juror Number 10 acknowledges he has sympathy for Biden’s struggles with crack cocaine.

    "He struggled," the juror told me a little while ago. "[Addicts] keep on chasing that first high. You're never going to exceed that first high that you got, but you're going to keep on trying."

    The juror - who said he doesn't watch the news and wasn't aware of Hunter Biden's legal problems until he stepped into court last week - added that it was at times difficult to not speak to anyone outside of court about the case.

    "It was harder on the people that I knew, that were asking me questions," he said.

    The juror said prosecutors made a convincing argument that Hunter Biden was a drug user at the time he filled out the now-infamous forms to buy the gun.

    "In the form that Hunter filled out, he checked 'no' to being addicted to crack, or being an addict," he said.

    "In the time leading up to him buying the gun, and the time after he bought to gun, there was evidence of use," the juror explained.

  4. Bernd Debusmann Jr

    Reporting from Wilmington, Delaware

    Just a few minutes ago, my colleague and I ran into one of the jurors in this case - Juror Number 10 - in the lobby of our hotel. I recognised him from the court room, where I'd seen him listening attentively during Hunter Biden’s trial.

    In a brief interview, the juror told me that Hunter Biden being the president's son was not on his mind much.

    "I was never thinking of President Joe Biden," he said. "Even though Mrs (Jill) Biden was there and I knew that was his wife. Somehow, you block that out of your mind."

    The other jurors also thought it was "important" to separate Hunter Biden's family background from the criminal charges, he added.

    "His dad wasn't on trial," Juror 10 said. "Out of all the jurors, nobody mentioned anything about political motivations."

    The juror also said he has not considered whether or not the verdict would have any subsequent political implications ahead of the 2024 election - for now.

    "It's probably something I have to think about a little more, how this will affect President Biden," he said.

  5. Christal Hayes

    Reporting from Washington, DC

    Hunter Biden faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, but sending the president's son to serve time behind bars would pose serious challenges for the Secret Service.

    Most legal experts agree Biden is not likely to receive a sentence that harsh because of his lack of criminal history and the rehabilitation he already completed for his drug addiction.

    But the possibility of prison time would create a "logistical nightmare" for his Secret Service protection, former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani tells me.

    There isn’t a precedent for sending someone with a Secret Service detail to prison and what that looks like remains unclear, Rahmani says.

    This same issue came up at former President Donald Trump's criminal trial, where he also faces possible time behind bars.

    If the situation arises, Biden would likely be isolated from other inmates but would still have Secret Service protection - something that poses a challenge, Rahmani says.

  6. Speaking at the gun safety event in Washington DC, President Biden pays tribute to all the survivors of gun violence who have focused not on anger, but on what they can do to fight it.

    He says when it comes to this issue, it's important to "never give up on hope".

    Biden says last year had some of the lowest levels of gun crime in almost 50 years.

    He goes on to say the law has changed on background checks for anyone under 21 wanting to purchase a firearm. He says he wants there to be universal background checks.

    He adds that 20,000 unlicensed firearm dealers now have to be licensed to run background checks.

  7. US President Joe Biden is now speaking at a gun safety event in Washington, DC.

    Stick with us, we'll bring you more updates shortly.

  8. Hunter Biden is in the cross-hairs of high-ranking Republicans, frequently coming under attack for his legal battles and the investigations into his business dealings.

    The more Hunter Biden stays in headlines, the more it could become a political problem for his dad, US President Joe Biden.

    For analysis on why his son's struggles could be an issue for the president, watch BBC North America correspondent Anthony Zurcher’s video at the top of this post.

  9. President Joe Biden is set to deliver a gun safety speech in Washington DC in the next hour.

    He will then travel to Wilmington, Delaware later today.

    First Lady Jill Biden is already in Delaware, where she has been supporting Hunter Biden during his trial.

    The first lady was seen with her step-son earlier today, after guilty verdicts in his gun trial were announced.

  10. Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, doesn't think a verdict in Hunter Biden's trial will have any implications on his father President Joe Biden's re-election bid for the White House, he told BBC News.

    Tobias pointed to recent polling that shows support for former president Donald Trump hasn't wavered in recent weeks, despite his own guilty verdict in a New York court last month.

    “I think most people view (Joe Biden) sympathetically as a father who’s tried to help his son through this very difficult time," Tobias said.

    "There’s just no showing at all that President Biden had anything to do with his son’s problems, and (he) did everything he possibly could as a parent to help him.”

    "I really don’t think it’ll have much impact," Tobias added.

  11. One of the jurors on the Hunter Biden trial spoke to US outlet CNN after the verdict, emphasising that "no politics came into play" among the jury as they deliberated.

    "Politics was not even spoken about," he said.

    The juror said they did not speak about the first family and kept conversations centred around Hunter Biden.

    When asked if the juror thought Hunter should go to jail, he replied "no".

    The juror said the group felt bad for Hunter Biden's daughter Naomi Biden, for being called upon to testify about her father. Her testimony did not impact their decision, the juror said.

  12. Several congressional Republicans took to social media platform X, some calling Hunter Biden's guilty verdict a distraction from what they allege are more serious crimes.

    "Hunter Biden’s firearm conviction is simply a smokescreen," Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican from Indiana, wrote.

    "Hunter might deserve to be in jail for something, but purchasing a gun is not it," Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, wrote.

    Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Republican from Georgia, called Hunter's guilty verdict the "left's attempt to create an illusion of equal justice".

    Many Republicans have alluded to questions which have been raised about Hunter Biden's business practices, and whether he had leveraged his name and access to his powerful father to make money and land clients.

    President Joe Biden has long maintained he never discussed business with his son or his associates. The White House has called a Republican-led inquiry into the claims an "inquiry based on lies".

  13. Before ending his remarks, Special Counsel David Weiss thanked the jurors who came to court each day of Hunter Biden's gun trial and performed their responsibilities in a professional manner.

    He said he is proud of all those involved in this "difficult assignment", adding that he is incredibly grateful.

    He ended his statement without taking questions.

    As a reminder: Weiss was appointed by former President Donald Trump to become the US attorney in Delaware in 2018. Not long after, in 2019, he opened an investigation into allegations of criminal conduct by Hunter Biden.

  14. Speaking to reporters after Hunter Biden's guilty verdict, Special Counsel David Weiss said everyone should be held accountable, and that it was Hunter Biden's choices along with the combination of guns and drugs that made his conduct dangerous.

    "No one in this country is above the law," he said.

  15. Special Counsel David Weiss just spoke at the US Attorney's office in Delaware.

    Weiss began by saying there were two overarching themes emphasised by the prosecution during this trial: Hunter Biden's illegal choices and the rule of law.

    Weiss said much of the testimony was about the use of drugs and alcohol, but added that this case was not just about addiction.

    The case was about the illegal choices Hunter Biden made while in throes of addiction, lying on forms when buying a gun and then possessing that gun, he said.

    These choices were what made Biden's conduct dangerous, Weiss added.

  16. We're still waiting for Special Counsel David Weiss to start a press conference, so let's take a moment to look at what happened with the gun at the centre of this trial.

    The Colt Cobra Special revolver was discarded by Hallie Biden. She is Hunter Biden's ex-girlfriend and the widow of his late brother, Beau Biden.

    Fearing he might hurt himself, she tossed it in a grocery store’s rubbish bin 11 days after he bought the gun. By Hunter's own admission - published in his memoir - he was in the throes of a "full-blown addiction" at the time.

    Hallie told the court she wrapped the .38 calibre revolver in a leather pouch, stuffed it into a purple "little gift shopping bag" and drove to a store in Greenville, Delaware.

    She was then filmed on CCTV as she threw it in a bin.

    The gun was discovered by a man who often rummaged through the grocery store’s refuse to gather recyclable items. That discovery prompted an investigation that ultimately led investigators back to Hunter Biden's federal forms.

  17. We're expecting to hear from Special Counsel David Weiss in a few minutes, who was appointed to oversee the probes into Hunter Biden.

    Weiss will make a statement at the US Attorney's office in Delaware at 13:00 ET (18:00 BST).

    You can watch live by pressing the play button at the top of this page and we'll bring you live text updates here.

  18. Retired US District Judge Hon Shira A Scheindlin says Hunter Biden was treated more harshly because of his last name and because he's the president's son.

    "If he was anybody other than a Biden, he wouldn't have even had this trial," she tells BBC News.

    He's a first time offender and typically they aren't given prison time unless they use the gun in another crime, and that didn't happen here, Scheindlin adds.

    Asked about what happens next, Scheindlin says a probation officer will carry out an interview, they'll write him up, letters will be submitted to the judge and both sides will make submissions and the judge will decide what to do.

    The range of punishment ranges from probation, such as drug treatment, to prison time - which she says is very unlikely.

  19. Hunter Biden released a statement following the guilty verdict saying he's feeling grateful for the support of his family.

    “I am more grateful today for the love and support I experienced this last week from Melissa, my family, my friends, and my community than I am disappointed by the outcome," he said.

    Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell, said the team is "disappointed" by the verdict.

    "We respect the jury process, and as we have done throughout this case, we will continue to vigorously pursue all the legal challenges available to Hunter," he said.