The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Prosecutors deride Hunter Biden’s legal claims as Hollywood ‘fiction’

Hunter Biden departs a House Oversight Committee meeting on Capitol Hill last week. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
4 min

Federal prosecutors pushed back Tuesday against Hunter Biden’s claim that federal gun charges against him were filed because of political pressure and should be dismissed, writing in a court filing that the president’s son did not offer sufficient evidence that the Justice Department was unfairly out to get him.

The government’s 52-page filing relied on excerpts from Hunter Biden’s 2021 memoir about his life and struggles with drug addiction. In the book, he says that he decided to purchase a firearm after a drug dealer pointed a gun at him during a transaction.

“The charges in this case are not trumped up or because of former President Trump — they are instead a result of the defendant’s own choices and were brought in spite of, not because of, any outside noise made by politicians,” the government’s filing reads. “The defendant cannot prevail on his selective prosecution claim because he does not identify any individual who chose to make similar choices as him who was not prosecuted, and he cannot establish any link between statements of politicians and a discriminatory purpose by current DOJ officials.”

A three-count federal indictment in Delaware alleges that Biden made false statements on a gun-purchase form in 2018 when he said he had not used illegal drugs in the past year — a period when he was addicted to and taking such drugs, according to his memoir. He has pleaded not guilty.

Biden was separately charged in Los Angles with nine counts of failing to pay at least $1.4 million in federal taxes from 2016 through 2019. He also pleaded not guilty to those charges — setting up the extraordinary possibility that he could go to trial twice while his father runs for reelection. The tax case is scheduled for trial in June.

The investigation into Hunter Biden began during the Trump administration, with charges filed last year. Republicans, including former president Donald Trump, have seized on Hunter Biden’s legal troubles, accusing the Justice Department of not pursuing the case aggressively and claiming President Biden was involved in his son’s finances — an allegation that is not in the indictment and of which no conclusive evidence has been publicly surfaced. President Biden has denied any involvement in his son’s business.

The probe has been led by U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, who was named a special counsel in August, which gave him clear authority to file charges outside of the state.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by the president, has said throughout the investigation that he has given Weiss complete independence to pursue the probe.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys sought to dismiss the gun case for what is known as “selective and vindictive prosecution,” arguing that he was charged as punishment for his father beating Trump in the 2020 election. They have said they will file a similar motion in the tax case in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors, in turn, said Tuesday that such a belief is a conspiracy theory and that Hunter Biden’s “theory is a fiction designed for a Hollywood script.” They said there is no evidence to suggest that the Justice Department, led by an attorney general appointed by his father, brought charges against him as retribution.

In the filing, they cited evidence they have collected to support the gun-purchase charges.

“Investigators also obtained messages from his Apple iCloud account in which [Hunter Biden] discussed buying thousands of dollars’ worth of crack while also taking videos of himself weighing crack and smoking,” the filing reads. “Furthermore, a chemist was able to confirm the presence of cocaine residue on the brown leather pouch in which defendant stored his firearm.”

Prosecutors also pushed back in a separate filing against Biden’s demands for an evidentiary hearing to explore the question of whether he was being prosecuted unfairly. And they rejected Biden’s claims that a diversion agreement put in place last year was still in effect.

A diversion agreement is a tool by which prosecutors sometimes dismiss charges on the condition that a person gets drug treatment. Biden and prosecutors had reached such an agreement on the gun charges and had negotiated a plea deal on the tax charges in June.

But the deal fell apart a month later under scrutiny from a federal judge, who doubted the two separately framed agreements followed federal rules.

In urging the judge to reject Biden’s claim that the diversion agreement should remain in effect, prosecutors wrote that the language in the agreement “is unambiguous.”