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Federal jury convicts Hunter Biden on felony gun charges

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

A federal jury in Delaware has convicted Hunter Biden on felony gun charges. The guilty verdict against President Biden's son was handed down by the jury in Wilmington after 3 hours of deliberations. And the president has publicly said he will not pardon his son. Joining us now is NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas, who was in the courtroom throughout the weeklong trial and is now outside the federal courthouse. Good morning, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

SCHMITZ: So how did this verdict break down?

LUCAS: Well, the jury only began deliberating yesterday afternoon, spent about an hour before breaking for the day, and then returned, and after 2 hours of deliberations this morning, they came in and said that they had a verdict. The courtroom deputy read out the verdict in the courtroom, guilty to all three counts, as you said - two counts for making false statements about his drug use when he bought the gun, and then one count for illegal possession of a firearm by a drug user or addict. Hunter showed no reaction when the verdict was read out. Afterwards, he hugged his attorneys. And then before leaving the courtroom with his wife, he gave her a kiss and a hug. And then they walked out.

SCHMITZ: And please remind us, Ryan, how did we get to this point?

LUCAS: This case revolves around a Colt revolver that Hunter bought in 2018. Prosecutors showed the jury text messages, photographs. The jury heard witness testimony about Hunter's drug use over the - basically the four-year time period from 2015 to 2019. In closing arguments, prosecutors said that the evidence was overwhelming that Hunter Biden was addicted to crack, that he was a user of crack, including at the time that he purchased and owned this gun. Hunter's attorney, Abby Lowell, did his best to try to sow doubt about the government's evidence. But ultimately, as we see with the guilty verdict on all three counts, the jury just didn't find his arguments convincing.

SCHMITZ: Now, this is not the only legal challenge that Hunter Biden faces. He's also facing federal charges in California, right?

LUCAS: That's right. That's another case brought by Justice Department Special Counsel David Weiss, who also brought this case here in Delaware. In the California tax case, Hunter faces nine counts in all, including willfully failing to pay taxes, tax evasion, filing fraudulent tax returns. Eventually, he did pay, with penalties and interest, his back taxes. And his attorneys have said that in that instance, you know, he was struggling with the same addiction problems that we saw as a central issue here in the gun case here. So while he may be done with one federal trial this year, as you said, he has one more ahead, and that currently is scheduled for September.

SCHMITZ: In the 30 seconds we've got left, Ryan, what happens to Hunter Biden now?

LUCAS: Well, he - the judge did not set a scheduling date today. She said, we'll come back to that. It's normally about 120 days out. But we're going to have to wait for a sentencing date and then see ultimately what the judge's decision on Hunter's sentence will be.

SCHMITZ: That's NPR's Ryan Lucas in Wilmington, Del. Ryan, thank you so much.

LUCAS: Thanks, Rob. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.
Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.
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