WILMINGTON, Del.— Hunter Biden is expected to plead not guilty to three firearms charges during his arraignment in a federal court in Delaware on Tuesday, amid a high-profile legal battle that has pit the president’s son against his Justice Department.
Biden was denied a request to appear by video, with a magistrate judge siding with government prosecutors to say that Biden “should not receive special treatment in this matter.”
The case has placed President Joe Biden’s family in the spotlight ahead of the 2024 presidential election, with scrutiny of Hunter Biden intensifying amid his indictment by a special counsel and the case unfolding against the backdrop of his father’s campaign.
Nearly two months after a deal with prosecutors fell apart in a dramatic courtroom scene, Biden was indicted last month in federal court on three counts tied to his possession of a firearm while using illegal drugs.
Two counts accuse him of lying on a federal form about his use of narcotics when he purchased a Colt Cobra revolver in Delaware in October of 2018. The third count claims he possessed a gun while using a narcotic.
Still open is a yearslong inquiry into Hunter Biden’s alleged tax evasion.
In the original case, charged in June, a joint filing with prosecutors said Biden had the gun for 11 days, during which “he purchased and used crack cocaine regularly.” The firearm was “subsequently discarded in a trashcan outside a supermarket in Greenville, Delaware,” according to the filing.
The initial plea deal in which Biden agreed to a deferral program for a single gun count collapsed as U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, questioned the terms of the agreement.
Under the terms of the deal, Biden would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges in return for prosecutors recommending a sentence of probation, while a separate felony gun charge would have been dropped as part of a two-year diversion program.
After the judge said Biden requested both parties return with more information, Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty. Talks between his team and prosecutors then fell apart, extinguishing the possibility of a deal. He later reshuffled his legal team.
Attorney Abbe Lowell said Hunter plans to fight the gun charges, which he argues are not constitutional.
His team has lately gone on offense, filing a barrage of separate lawsuits against the Internal Revenue Service, Rudy Giuliani, and former Trump aide Garrett Ziegler, whom he claims violated privacy and computer fraud laws.
Charges linked to Biden’s taxes could be filed within the coming month, in Washington, D.C., or California, where he has been a resident in recent years.
The case comes as the Justice Department has also undertaken the unprecedented move of indicting a former president, Donald Trump, in two separate cases.
In Washington, House Republicans continue to seek answers on whether the Justice Department granted Hunter Biden favorable treatment as it investigated him. Republicans have also launched an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden that is expected to probe his son’s business dealings as they search for evidence of wrongdoing.
The White House has denied any involvement by the president in the Justice Department’s case or his son’s business affairs.
Katherine Doyle is a White House reporter for NBC News.
Gary Grumbach contributed.