Hunter Biden, the president’s son, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in a Wilmington, Delaware, federal court to three firearms charges brought by special counsel David Weiss.
The 19-minute hearing was without drama but still marked an extraordinary moment: the first time that a child of a sitting president will appear in court to fight criminal charges.
His appearance also comes amid the newly launched impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden for allegedly profiting off his son’s foreign business deals, though Republicans have yet to provide any direct evidence that the president financially benefited from Hunter Biden’s career overseas.
Hunter Biden has been charged with lying on federal firearm forms and illegally possessing a firearm while using illicit drugs.
The charges come after a plea agreement between Hunter Biden and federal prosecutors over allegedly failing to pay millions in taxes fell apart in a hearing before a different federal judge in Delaware, who pressed both Justice Department prosecutors and Hunter’s defense team on the full extent of the agreement and its constitutionality.
During the hearing, magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke will present Hunter Biden with the charges he is facing, and he will have the opportunity to enter a formal not guilty plea. Prosecutors may also ask for certain conditions of his release to be set in place while he awaits trial.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement when the indictment was announced that his client “possessing an unloaded gun for 11 days was not a threat to public safety, but a prosecutor, with all the power imaginable, bending to political pressure presents a grave threat to our system of justice.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.