US President Joe Biden's son Hunter was indicted Thursday for illegally buying a gun when he was using drugs, casting a new shadow over his father's campaign for reelection next year.
Hunter Biden, 53, was charged with two counts of making false statements when claiming on forms required for the 2018 gun purchase that he was not using drugs illegally at the time.
A third charge said that, based on the false statements, he illegally possessed the gun during an 11-day period in October that year.
If convicted on all three felony charges, Biden could in theory face 25 years in prison, though in practice they are seldom punished by any jail time.
In attesting that he was not an unlawful user of drugs when he bought the Colt Cobra revolver, Biden "knew that statement was false," the Justice Department said.
The indictment came two days after Republicans in Congress opened an impeachment probe against Democrat Joe Biden, alleging that when he was vice president he benefitted financially from his son's foreign business dealings.
The legal troubles of Hunter Biden present a target for political rivals of his father, who is bidding for a second term in the White House.
Hunter is a Yale-trained lawyer and lobbyist-turned-artist, but his life has been marred by alcoholism and crack cocaine addiction.
Without offering any evidence, Republicans have accused Biden's Justice Department of protecting his son and have accused Weiss, a Republican appointee, of going easy on Hunter.
Representative James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky who will be leading the impeachment inquiry, welcomed the filing of the gun charges, calling it a "very small start."
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