Hunter Biden tries to avoid in-person arraignment in federal gun charges case

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Hunter Biden is battling federal prosecutors in trying to have his initial court appearance on federal firearm charges held via video conference, according to an order filed by a federal judge on Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke issued the order asking Hunter’s lawyers to explain no later than Tuesday why they want his arraignment held via video conference – a request prosecutors have opposed, Burke wrote.

The judge gave prosecutors until Wednesday to provide a reason why the arraignment should happen in person.

Hunter Biden

United States President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, exits in J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building in Delaware, United States on July 26, 2023. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Biden could face up to 25 years in prison for federal firearm charges announced last week, including making a false statement in the purchase of a firearm, which carries a maximum of up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

The second count, a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federal firearms licensed dealer, can garner up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

The third count, possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, can land up to a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release, according to the documents. 

Hunter Biden in Delaware court

A courtroom sketch depicting Hunter Biden in a federal courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware on July 26, 2023. (COURTESY: William J. Hennessy, Jr.)

The counts combine to carry a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. Special counsel David Weiss, a Donald Trump appointee, has overlooked the investigation.

Meanwhile, Biden’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against the IRS on Monday, alleging that agents have “targeted and sought to embarrass” the president’s son.

Biden’s Monday morning filing cites two major examples in IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, two whistleblowers who claimed the IRS mishandled aspects of its investigation into Biden.

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Shapley and Zielger testified before the House Oversight Committee earlier this year, saying they faced various limitations when tasked with investigating the president’s son.

Biden’s lawsuit argues the pair’s status as whistleblowers “cannot and does not shield them from their wrongful conduct in making unauthorized public disclosures that are not permitted by the whistleblower process.”

IRS whistleblowers sworn into Congress

Supervisory IRS Special Agent Gary Shapley (L) and IRS Criminal Investigator Joseph Ziegler are sworn-in as they testify during a House Oversight Committee hearing related to the Justice Department’s investigation of Hunter Biden, on Capitol Hill July 19, 2023, in Washington, DC.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Shapley’s legal team responded to Biden’s lawsuit in a statement Monday morning, dismissing the move as a stalling tactic.

“This suit against the IRS is just another frivolous smear by Biden family attorneys trying to turn people’s attention away from Hunter Biden’s own legal problems and intimidate any current and future whistleblower,” Shapley’s attorneys wrote. 

“The federal judge in Delaware who oversaw the aborted plea deal shot down similar claims against the whistleblowers after they exposed the secret backroom deal between Hunter Biden and the Department of Justice. Neither IRS SSA Gary Shapley nor his attorneys have ever released any confidential taxpayer information except through whistleblower disclosures authorized by statute. Once Congress released that testimony, like every American citizen, he has a right to discuss that public information.”

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Hunter’s lawyer and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.

Fox News’ Joe Schoffstall, David Spunt, Anders Hagstrom and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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