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Hunter Biden expected to plead not guilty to federal gun charges: live updates

Hunter Biden is expected to plead not guilty Tuesday to federal gun charges in Delaware, after a plea agreement for a previous set of tax and gun charges collapsed in July.

Biden, who lives in Los Angeles, had requested to hold the hearing by video conference. But Justice Department special counsel David Weiss insisted on an in-person arraignment to avoid the appearance of giving the president’s son special treatment.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke ruled the in-person arraignment emphasize the “integrity and solemnity of a federal criminal proceeding.”

The case could remain part of the presidential debate for 2024, as President Joe Biden seeks reelection. Congressional Republicans have criticized the Justice Department’s investigation and the plea agreement as a “sweetheart deal” that U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected.

Here’s what we know about the case:

FILE - President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) ORG XMIT: WX457

What is Hunter Biden charged with?

The indictment charges Hunter Biden 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. And he is charged with knowingly possessing the revolver despite the restrictions against people addicted to drugs owning firearms.

Republicans have criticized the deal as too lenient. But legal experts say the charges are rarely filed.

Attorney General Merrick Garland testified at the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 20 that Weiss was appointed by President Biden’s rival, Donald Trump, and ran his investigation independently.

What happened with Hunter Biden’s plea deal?

The indictment came after a plea deal on tax and gun charges fell apart. The taxes charges could still be refiled.

The plea agreement would have allowed Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanors for failing to pay his taxes in 2017 and 2018, and to enter a pretrial program for the gun charge that could have been dismissed if he complied. The deal might have allowed him to avoid prison.

But Noreika refused to accept the deal because of disputes between government and defense lawyers about whether it protected Biden from potential future charges.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden arraignment updates: President’ son to face gun charges