Hunter Biden convicted on all charges: 5 takeaways

Hunter Biden was found guilty Tuesday of all three charges relating to a 2018 gun purchase.

Jurors in Wilmington, Del., deliberated for about three hours before convicting President Biden’s only surviving son. The charges centered on Hunter Biden lying about drug use on his paperwork to buy the gun.

He possessed the gun for less than two weeks before his then-girlfriend, Hallie Biden, found it and threw it away. Hallie Biden is the widow of Beau Biden, the president’s elder son, who died from brain cancer in 2015. Her later relationship with Hunter Biden was relatively brief.

Hunter Biden saw a plea deal relating to the gun offenses and unrelated tax charges fall apart last year. The trial on the tax charges is scheduled for September.

The impact of his conviction on his father’s political fortunes may be slight, however. The behavior under scrutiny has no clear relevance to the president’s public duties.

Here are the main takeaways from Tuesday.

Any other verdict would have been a shock

Two separate themes were entangled in the trial.

One was Hunter Biden’s struggles with addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine, which he had documented in a 2021 memoir. Many Americans, touched by addiction themselves or among their friends and family, may feel empathy on this.

The narrower question was whether he broke the law — and there only ever seemed one likely verdict.

The central issue was his answer of “no” to a question on the federal form would-be gun-buyers have to complete.

The question asks whether the applicant is “an unlawful user of, or addicted to” marijuana or narcotics.

The defense had to argue that even though Hunter Biden was clearly experiencing crack addiction during this general time, he was not using during the 11-day period when he bought and owned the gun.

Jurors evidently found that implausible, given evidence including a text message where he stated he was “sleeping on a car smoking crack” two days after the gun purchase.

Hallie Biden told the court she found the gun in Hunter Biden’s car, along with “remnants of crack cocaine” and drug paraphernalia.

It would have been a big shock if the jurors had returned any other verdict.

President Biden treads carefully but makes sudden trip back to Delaware

President Biden’s schedule for Tuesday changed abruptly soon after the verdict was announced.

The White House said the president would not return to his official residence after a speech at a Washington hotel but instead would travel to Wilmington.

It is safe to surmise the president wanted to be with his son, whose prior travails have caused the President Biden understandable concern.

In the wake of the verdict, the president issued a statement expressing love for his son and pride in seeing him “come out the other side” of addiction.

The president also said he would “accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.”

Those words suggest the president will not pardon his son, but they don’t rule out such a move.

Politically, it would be a lot easier for the president to issue a pardon if he won a second term – or, if he lost, during the lame-duck period. Doing so in the run-up to a presidential election would cause a furor.

A lengthy jail sentence is possible but unlikely

Hunter Biden faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

He is all but certain to avoid that fate, however.

He has no prior convictions, and the gun was not used for any other crime.

Maximum sentences for lying on gun forms are usually levied in very different scenarios, such as when someone serves as a “straw buyer,” purchasing a firearm for someone else who cannot lawfully possess it.

In addition, Hunter Biden says he has been clean and sober since mid-2019, so there seems minimal risk of reoffending.

None of that makes incarceration impossible, of course.

Broad sentencing guidelines for illegally possessing a firearm, one of the counts on which he was convicted, call for between 15 and 21 months in prison, according to Reuters.

Trump and other GOP figures point to other alleged misdeeds

Former President Trump was uncharacteristically quiet about the conviction on his Truth Social account, at least in the few hours immediately after the decision.

Trump’s campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt issued a statement contending that the trial was “nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family.”

This is a reference to Republican allegations that Hunter Biden and the president’s brother James Biden profited off the family name in their business dealings — and did so in such a way as to endanger national security.

But neither man has been charged with any crime on that score, and both vigorously deny wrongdoing. GOP efforts to find damning evidence against the president have so far come up dry.

Democrats blast the GOP inquiries into the Bidens as a politically motivated charade.

Some unexpected voices were raised in Hunter Biden’s defense

Hunter Biden got de facto support from some unexpected quarters.

Among fervent defenders of the Second Amendment, some argue that drug users should not be prohibited from owning firearms — an argument that would render the prosecution of the Hunter Biden unconstitutional.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) wrote on social media: “Hunter might deserve to be in jail for something, but purchasing a gun is not it.”

Massie added: “There are millions of marijuana users who own guns in this country, and none of them should be in jail for purchasing or possessing a firearm against current laws.”

Fervent Trump-backer Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) appears to have sympathy with this argument, though his reaction was harder to decode.

“The Hunter Biden gun conviction is kinda dumb tbh,” Gaetz wrote on the social platform X.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.