Cocaine residue was found on Hunter Biden's gun pouch in 2018 case, prosecutors say

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors urged a judge on Tuesday to reject Hunter Biden’s efforts to dismiss the gun charges against him, revealing that investigators last year found cocaine residue on the pouch the president’s son used to hold his gun.

In pressing for the case against President Joe Biden’s son to proceed, prosecutors said “the strength of the evidence against him is overwhelming" and pushed back against Hunter Biden's claims that he is being singled out for political purposes.

In addition to “incriminating statements” Hunter Biden made about his drug use in his 2021 memoir, investigators found a white powdery substance on the brown leather pouch he used to store the gun after pulling it from the state police vault last year, prosecutors wrote. An FBI chemist determined it was cocaine, they said.

“To be clear, investigators literally found drugs on the pouch where the defendant had kept his gun,” prosecutors said.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days. He has acknowledged struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine during that period in 2018, but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law. Hunter Biden has since said that he’s stopped using drugs and has worked to turn his life around.

His attorneys didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the prosecutors' filing Tuesday.

These criminal proceedings could have been avoided with a plea deal last year, but an agreement with federal prosecutors fell apart and now the president’s son is facing the spectacle of a trial this year while his father is campaigning. He was indicted after the plea deal broke down when a judge who was supposed to sign off on the agreement instead raised a series of questions about the deal.

He had initially agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges and would have also avoided prosecution on the gun charges had he stayed out of trouble for two years. It was the culmination of a yearslong investigation by federal prosecutors into the business dealings of the president’s son.

His lawyers have urged the judge to dismiss the gun case, alleging he was “selectively charged" for improper political purposes. They have argued that special counsel David Weiss — who also serves as U.S. attorney for Delaware and was originally appointed by former President Donald Trump — “buckled under political pressure" to bring more severe charges amid criticism of the deal from Trump and other Republicans.

Prosecutors, however, said there is no evidence “to support his allegation that the Executive Branch, led by his father, President Biden, and its Justice Department, led by the Attorney General appointed by his father, authorized prosecution by the U.S. Attorney and Special Counsel of their choosing for an ‘improper political purpose.’”

“The charges in this case are not trumped up or because of former President Trump — they are instead a result of the defendant’s own choices and were brought in spite of, not because of, any outside noise made by politicians,” prosecutors wrote.

Hunter Biden’s criminal proceedings are also happening in parallel to so far unsuccessful efforts by congressional Republicans to link his business dealings to his father. Republicans are pursuing an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, claiming he was engaged in an influence-peddling scheme with his son. But House Republicans on Tuesday halted plans to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for defying a congressional subpoena in their ongoing investigation, citing negotiations with his attorneys that could end the standoff.

No evidence has emerged so far to prove that the president, in his current or previous office, abused his role or accepted bribes, though questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business dealings.


Richer reported from Boston.