Hunter Biden plans to plead not guilty to federal gun charges and is asking his initial court appearance be held by video conference so that he won’t have to travel to Wilmington, Delaware, a request that the government opposed.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke asked both sides to file written arguments about a video hearing. The government is scheduled to respond Wednesday. The initial hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet.
Congressional Republicans have attacked the charges against Biden and the handling of his investigation as a “sweetheart deal” because his father is President Joe Biden. Being treated differently from typical defendants for a court appearance could also raise complaints of favoritism by David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware who was appointed special counsel.
Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, argued he would be burdened by traveling from Los Angeles for the brief appearance. Biden has already been processed by U.S. marshals at his July hearing, when a plea agreement on tax and gun charges fell apart.
Biden’s visit would also place a “significant” financial and logistical burden on the government and on downtown Wilmington, Lowell wrote.
“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,” Lowell wrote.
The indictment charges Hunter Biden with knowingly deceiving a firearms dealer when buying a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver on Oct. 12, 2018. He is charged with falsely filling out a federal firearms form denying he was addicted to any narcotics. And he is charged with knowingly possessing the revolver despite the restrictions against drug addicts owning firearms.
Hunter Biden has acknowledged he was a drug addict at the time.
But Lowell has said Biden would fight the charges as barred by the plea agreement that fell apart and by arguing the statutes are unconstitutional.
Under the plea agreement, Biden was to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018, and be placed in a pretrial program for a gun charge. If he complied with the requirements, he could have avoided jail time.
But U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika refused to accept the agreement because of disagreements between prosecutors and defense lawyers about what it meant. She will preside over the new gun charges.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden requests video hearing to plead not guilty to gun charges