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Hunter Biden found guilty of lying about drug use to buy gun

PRESIDENT Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden was convicted by a jury of lying about his drug use to illegally buy a gun, a verdict Democrats may seize upon to counter Donald Trump’s claim of a justice system weaponized against him.

A 12-member jury in Wilmington, Delaware, federal court found the defendant guilty on all three counts against him, making Hunter Biden the first child of a sitting U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

Hunter Biden, 54, lightly nodded his head after the verdict was read but otherwise showed little reaction. He then patted his lawyer Abbe Lowell on the back and hugged another member of his legal team.

He then left the courthouse without making a statement.

His father, Joe Biden, issued a statement saying he accepted the outcome of the case and would respect the judicial process as his son considers an appeal.

The judge set no date for sentencing but added the timeline is usually in 120 days. That would place it no later than a month before the Nov. 5 U.S. presidential election.

Sentencing guidelines for the gun charges are 15 to 21 months, but legal experts say defendants in similar cases often get shorter sentences and are less likely to be incarcerated if they abide by the terms of their pretrial release.

Some 61% of registered voters responding to a Reuters/Ipsos poll in February said Hunter Biden’s legal troubles would have no impact on whether they voted for his father in November. The poll showed voters divided over whether Hunter Biden’s legal troubles were related to his father’s service as president.

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The trial followed the May 30 criminal conviction of Trump, the first former U.S. president to be found guilty of a felony and the Republican challenger to Joe Biden, a Democrat, in a tight race for the White House.

Trump, convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal, accuses Democrats of pursuing that case and three other criminal prosecutions to prevent him from regaining power in his rematch with Joe Biden.

Congressional Democrats have pointed to cases including the Hunter Biden prosecution as evidence that Joe Biden is not using the justice system for political or personal ends, having said last week he would not pardon his son if convicted.

In a statement on Tuesday, Joe Biden said: “As I said last week, I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today. So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride in seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery.

“As I also said last week, I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal. Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that,” the statement said.

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The Hunter Biden case was brought by U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel David Weiss, a Trump appointee.

Weiss has also charged Hunter Biden with three felony and six misdemeanour tax offences in California, alleging he failed to pay $1.4 million in taxes between 2016 and 2019 while spending millions on drugs, escorts, exotic cars and other high-ticket items.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to those charges. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 5 in Los Angeles.

The Delaware trial included prosecution testimony by Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, former girlfriend and sister-in-law, who gave firsthand accounts of his spiralling addiction in the weeks before and after he bought the gun in October 2018.

Prosecutors also showed text messages, photos and bank records that they said showed Biden was deep in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and knowingly broke the law by answering “no” to being a drug user on a government screening form.

Biden’s lawyers sought to show he was not using drugs when he bought the gun and did not intend to deceive because he didn’t consider himself a drug user when he filled out the form.

The defence called Hunter Biden’s daughter, Naomi Biden, who testified that her father seemed to be doing well when she saw him shortly before and after he bought the gun.

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By TOM HALS and JACK QUEEN

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