Hunter Biden was indicted Thursday on federal gun charges less than two months after a plea agreement fell apart over tax and gun charges. The indictment charges him 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. 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. The charges revive the prospect that he could be jailed and rekindle his role as a lightning rod for political criticism as his father runs for reelection, reports USA Today. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison if convicted, but most sentences are shorter than the maximum.
Republicans had criticized the plea agreement, which could have carried no jail time, as a "sweetheart deal" and called for a new investigation. Instead, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed David Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for Delaware who had investigated Hunter Biden for five years before reaching the plea agreement, as a special counsel to continue his investigation. Legal experts called the three charges harsh compared with the plea agreement, which could have dismissed a single charge if Biden complied with the requirements. Harry Litman, a former U.S. Attorney who is now a law professor at UCLA, said the Justice Department rarely brings such gun charges. “The 3 false statement charges against Hunter Biden are a raw deal,” Litman said in a post on X. “There appears to be nothing that happened since the plea deal unraveled (through no fault of Biden) other than Republican ignorant potshots.” Andrew Weissmann, a former federal prosecutor and general counsel at the FBI, called Weiss erratic for veering from a deferred prosecution to pursuing three “legally and factually tenuous charges.” Weissman said, “The new gun charges display the same lack of judgment. Expect lots of defense challenges.”