Hunter Biden plans to plead not guilty to gun charges, seeks to appear by video at hearing

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Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, plans to plead not guilty to three felony gun charges and has asked to appear by video at his initial court hearing.

Biden, 53, was indicted on the gun charges last week and accused of lying on a federal form that asked him if he was drug-free when he bought a Colt Cobra .38 Special in October 2018. The president's son was allegedly addicted to illegal drugs at the time.

The indictment came as part of an investigation launched by special counsel David Weiss in 2019. Biden agreed to plead guilty to federal tax charges in July, but the deal fell through because of a dispute over a pretrial diversion to avoid felony prosecution for the gun charges.

The tax charges were later dismissed at Weiss' request, opening the door for new charges for the same offenses. Weiss may still bring those charges forward.

"No matter whether in person or virtual, he will waive reading of the indictment, which is merely a few pages and could easily be read at a video conference," Biden's lawyers wrote in a court filing obtained by UPI on Tuesday.

"Mr. Biden also will enter a plea of not guilty, and there is no reason why he cannot utter those two words by video conference. In short, Mr. Biden is satisfied that his constitutional rights will be met by conducting his initial appearance by video conference."

His lawyers noted that the president's son is not seeking any special treatment in making the request and said he has attended and will attend any proceedings in which his physical appearance is required.

"This court permitted a defendant to appear initially via video conference, with counsel, as recently as January 2023," the lawyers wrote in the filing.

"These sorts of initial appearances by video became commonplace upon the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, which demonstrated their efficiency and lack of prejudice to the parties."

Biden also seeks a video appearance to minimize the "unnecessary burden" on government resources, including his Secret Service protection.

He is the first child of a sitting president to be charged by the U.S. Justice Department.