The three charges stem from an investigation by special counsel David Weiss, whom U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed last month to explore possible wrongdoing by the president’s son.
Two charges concern Hunter Biden, 53, allegedly submitting a form falsely stating that he was not using illegal narcotics when he purchased a Colt Cobra revolver in 2018, and one concerns him allegedly possessing that firearm while using narcotics.
Biden took those actions “knowing that he was an unlawful user of and addicted to any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance,” the indictment reads.
The president’s son has said himself, in his memoir and in a court filing, that he was “smoking crack every 15 minutes,” around the time he bought the gun, adding that he believes his addiction stems from the trauma of surviving a car crash that killed his mother and baby sister in 1972. He also said he didn’t quit drugs and alcohol until meeting his current wife in 2019.
The gun possession charge was originally part of a plea deal that fell apart in July when the judge overseeing the case scrutinized the details of the plea agreement, which would have had Biden submitting guilty pleas on a misdemeanor tax charge and entering an alcohol and drug diversion program instead of pleading guilty on the possession charge.
Shortly after, the White House made it clear that the president would not pardon his son on any potential convictions.
Weeks after the deal collapsed, Garland appointed Weiss, a U.S. attorney appointed by former President Donald Trump, as special counsel in the Biden investigation. Weiss, who had already been leading investigations into Biden’s business dealings since Trump’s administration, indicated last week that an indictment was imminent.
Despite Republicans specifically calling last year for him to be made special counsel, prominent voices in the party criticized the decision as soon as it was made, claiming Weiss would go easy on the president’s son.
“David Weiss can’t be trusted, and this is just a new way to whitewash the Biden family’s corruption,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told CNN last month.
On Thursday, Jordan repeated his criticism of the plea deal, even though the Justice Department is now prosecuting Biden. But he didn’t criticize Weiss for bringing the charges.
“I’ll see how this all shakes out,” Jordan told HuffPost.
Biden’s indictment comes as House Republicans call for an impeachment inquiry against the president, citing millions of dollars that foreign nationals paid Hunter Biden when Joe Biden was heavily involved in foreign policy as vice president. However, there is no record of any payments to the president himself.
Trump, Joe Biden’s likely rival in the 2024 presidential election, has been indicted four times in recent months on 91 felony charges concerning efforts to overthrow the 2020 election results, hush money payments to a porn star and his mishandling of highly classified documents. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.