Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden (R), leaves the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 26, 2023.
Ryan Collerd | AFP | Getty Images
Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, “should be treated no differently” than other defendants, Department of Justice special counsel David Weiss said in a court filing in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware.
Weiss noted the court’s pandemic-related order authorizing virtual proceedings expired in June 2022.
Since then, defendants’ first court appearances are “almost always held in-person,” Weiss wrote.
Hunter Biden’s defense attorney argued Tuesday that a virtual court appearance would avoid an “unnecessary burden on government resources and the disruption to the courthouse and downtown areas” of Wilmington that would result from his client’s Secret Service protection.
The lawyer, Abbe Lowell, told the judge that Hunter Biden will plead not guilty to the charges during his appearance, “and there is no reason why he cannot utter those two words by video conference.”
Weiss replied that that argument was not enough to justify a virtual appearance.
“If ‘convenience’ was a legitimate basis to warrant virtual proceedings, every defendant would ask for them in every case,” the special counsel wrote.
He added that Hunter Biden’s prior court appearance “was anything but routine.”
At a proceeding in late July, an expected plea deal between Hunter Biden and prosecutors on criminal tax charges fell apart under scrutiny from a judge.
Hunter Biden ended up pleading not guilty to those tax charges — a move that threw into dispute a separate pretrial diversion agreement on a gun-related charge.
“Although the government anticipates this proceeding should be straightforward since the parties have not reached an agreement to resolve this matter, we believe an in-person proceeding may be more conducive to addressing any unforeseen issues that arise,” Weiss wrote.
Hunter Biden, 53, was indicted last week on three criminal counts related to his possession of a firearm while being an unlawful drug user.
Hunter 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.
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