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Judge orders Hunter Biden to appear in person at arraignment on federal gun charges

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

(WILMINGTON, Del.) — A federal magistrate judge on Wednesday denied Hunter Biden’s effort to avoid appearing in person at his arraignment on federal gun charges, ordering him to appear at a hearing scheduled for Oct. 3.

Judge Christopher Burke wrote that the president’s son “should be treated just as would any other defendant in our court.”

Hunter Biden’s legal team had sought to have him appear virtually, citing “the financial impact on government resources and the logistical burden on the downtown area of Wilmington” as reason enough to avoid an in-person appearance.

Prosecutors earlier Wednesday rebuffed that effort, arguing that an in-person arraignment is “important to promote the public’s confidence that the defendant is being treated consistently with other defendants.”

Judge Burke wrote that in his twelve years on the bench — with the exception of the pandemic — he “cannot recall ever having conducted an initial appearance other than in person.”

“Any other defendant would be required to attend his or her initial appearance in person,” Burke wrote. “So too here.”

President Joe Biden’s only living son was indicted last Thursday by special counsel David Weiss on charges that he lied on a federal form when he said he was drug-free at the time that he purchased a Colt revolver in October 2018.

Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Hunter Biden, has suggested they would push back on the gun charges, telling ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on “Good Morning America” last week that, “on the facts, we think we’ll have a defense.”

Lowell had filed court papers on Tuesday seeking to have his client’s initial appearance in a Delaware court take place via video conference instead of in person, noting that virtual court appearances became commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic and arguing that “neither Mr. Biden nor the government would be prejudiced by an initial appearance conducted via video conference.”

“No matter whether in person or virtual … Mr. Biden also will enter a plea of not guilty, and there is no reason why he cannot utter those two words by video conference,” Lowell wrote.

After a plea deal between federal prosecutors and Hunter Biden fell apart in July following a five-year probe, prosecutors said in court filings last month that they also intend to bring misdemeanor tax charges against Hunter Biden in California and Washington, D.C.

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