Will Hunter Biden's indictment on gun charges affect Joe Biden's presidential campaign?

Hunter Biden is planning to plead guilty to a couple of tax misdemeanours

Joe-Biden-hunter-AP-Reuters Joe Biden and his son Hunter | AP, Reuters

US President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, on Thursday, has been indicted on gun charges after a plea deal fell through in July. The development comes at the heels of an announcement that Biden will face an impeachment inquiry. 

This is the first time an offspring of a sitting president has been indicted on federal criminal charges. The indictment against 53-year-old Hunter has been brought by US Special Counsel David Weiss, a US attorney for Delaware. 

Reportedly, Hunter Biden is planning to plead guilty to a couple of tax misdemeanours and strike a deal with federal prosecutors to dismiss the charge of gun possession. The indictment gives Republicans fuel to use this case to win political points on the debate stage. 

Hunter's attorney Abbe Lowell said, “We believe these charges are barred by the agreement the prosecutors made with Mr. Biden, the recent rulings by several federal courts that this statute is unconstitutional, and the facts that he did not violate that law, and we plan to demonstrate all of that in court.” 

“It’s a sad situation, I mean, nobody should be happy about this,” former president Donald Trump told NBC News. The federal court in Delaware has indicted Hunter Biden on three counts tied to possession of a gun while using narcotics. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison. Each of the three counts also carries a fine of $250,000.

Hunter, who is said to have struggled with crack cocaine addiction also faces trouble on the professional front. He has been under media scrutiny for his connections to a scandal-plagued, now-bankrupt Chinese energy giant, CEFC China Energy. His dealings with Ukraine have drawn attention. He has been accused of using his father's position as vice president to gain favours.

Hunter's indictment is likely to be weaponised in the same manner as Hillary Clinton using private email while being secretary of state. It also makes it difficult for Democrats to capitalise on Trump's current legal troubles. US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said Biden's alleged involvement in his son's business dealings demands deeper review. “These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times observed, “The indictment will give radical Republicans in Congress the talking point they need to muddy the waters with respect to Trump’s multiple criminal indictments.” However, according to experts, the real issue affecting Biden's re-election campaign would be his age. The president reportedly appeared confused and bewildered during a press conference in Vietnam last week. 

“Republicans have been using Hunter as a vessel to investigate the president for the last four years. There has been no substantial evidence of any crimes,”  Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins told NBC News and added that the president should try to stay above the fray.

One thing, however, seems certain, between Hunter Biden's indictment and Donald Trump's legal troubles including that of his attempt to overturn results of the 2020 presidential elections, certainly throws a wrench into the 2024 election campaign and might make debates interesting, if not heated.

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