Politico's headline noted that the United States Secret Service "inserted itself" into the 2018 case involving the son of then-presidential nominee Joe Biden. The outlet — echoing TheBlaze's story published Oct. 29, 2020 — also said the incident involved Hallie Biden, widow of Joe Biden's son Beau, who was in a relationship with Hunter Biden at the time.
What are the details?
Politico said Hallie Biden on Oct. 23, 2018, searched Hunter Biden's pickup due to "suspicions she had," according to a Delaware State Police report. In the vehicle, which was parked at her Wilmington home, she found a .38 revolver, the outlet said.
She then went to Janssen's Market and threw the gun — which was wrapped in a black shopping bag — into a trash bin outside the store, Politico noted. Later that day Hallie Biden told Hunter Biden what she had done, and he told her to retrieve the gun, the outlet said, citing the police report. But Hallie Biden discovered the gun was missing, and she reported that to the store — after which the store's manager notified police, Politico said, citing the police report.
Delaware State Police questioned Hallie Biden — as well as Hunter Biden, who was called to the scene and told cops he used the gun for target practice, Politico said, citing the report. A source with knowledge told TheBlaze that Hunter Biden informed law enforcement the gun was purchased earlier that month, that he used it for target practice, and that he kept it in his vehicle instead of Hallie Biden's house so it was not near her children.
The scenario potentially implicates a number of Delaware laws, including laws that make it a crime to leave a loaded firearm where children might easily retrieve it, TheBlaze noted. In addition, the market in question is located across the street from a high school.
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At one point, two of Janssen's employees, described by the police report as "Mexican males," walked past the loading dock area, and Hunter told a police officer that the store had some suspicious people working for it. Asked if he was referring to those two staffers, Hunter responded, "Yea, prolly illegal," according to the report.
When a police officer asked Hunter whether the gun had been used in a crime, the officer reported that Hunter "became very agitated with me and asked me if I was intentionally trying to make him mad," according to the report.
When the officer asked Hunter whether he had been doing drugs or drinking heavily, he responded, "Listen, it isn't like that. I think she believes I was gonna kill myself," according to the report.
The outlet, citing the police report, said an officer asked Hunter Biden if he had called his father about the incident — and he replied, "I have never called my dad for anything," which echoes TheBlaze's story.
The police report said Hunter Biden retrieved the gun case, which included the gun's serial number, from Hallie Biden's house and handed it over to police, Politico noted. The source with knowledge told TheBlaze that a description of the gun and its serial number were entered into the National Crime Information Center site, and a face page was completed for a Theft of Firearm report.
Politico added that the Federal Bureau of Investigation also responded to the scene, citing people familiar with the situation, and that the FBI at the time was monitoring Hunter Biden as part of a still-in-progress investigation now focusing on his taxes. The FBI declined to comment, the outlet noted.
Apparently no secret to the Secret Service
Politico added that two Secret Service agents arrived at the store where Hunter Biden had purchased the gun during the time police were questioning Hunter Biden and Hallie Biden, citing the two people familiar with the incident — which echoes TheBlaze's story.
The outlet said, according to people familiar with the incident, that the agents showed their badges and identification cards to Ron Palmieri, owner of StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply in Wilmington, and asked for the Firearms Transaction Record that Hunter Biden had filled out to buy the gun earlier that month.
TheBlaze reported that the Secret Service agents said they needed to find the gun, according to the source with knowledge.
But Politico said Palmieri refused to give the agents the document as it's the business of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which oversees federal gun laws — and the Secret Service agents left without the records, according to the people familiar with the case. Politico added that Palmieri declined to comment.
Later that day, the ATF arrived at the store to inspect the records, the outlet said. TheBlaze noted that a copy was provided for the agency.
TheBlaze added that it wasn't immediately clear why the Secret Service would have properly been involved in the investigation since Hunter Biden's last day of Secret Service protection was July 8, 2014.
Politico reported that the Secret Service said it has no record of its agents investigating the incident, and Joe Biden, who was not under protection at the time, said through a spokesperson he has no knowledge of any Secret Service involvement.
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But the alleged involvement of the Secret Service remains a mystery. One law enforcement official said that at the time of the incident, individual Secret Service agents at the agency's offices in Wilmington, Del., and Philadelphia kept an informal hand in maintaining the former vice president's security. The person cited an instance in 2019 when the Wilmington office of the Secret Service called the Delaware State Police to arrange security for a public appearance by Biden.
The Secret Service declined to answer a question about whether it had informal involvement in Biden's security during this period.
Asked whether the Secret Service requested state police security for Biden during the period when he was not under the agency's protection, a Delaware State Police spokesman said, "I have reached out to our sergeant who oversees the Executive Protection Unit with the Delaware State Police. He is unaware of any such requests or services provided."
Any involvement by the Secret Service on behalf of the Biden family or on its own initiative would be inappropriate interference in an incident that was already being investigated by Delaware State Police with the involvement of the FBI, according to law enforcement officials.
Politico said it obtained copies of the Firearms Transaction Record and a receipt for the gun dated Oct. 12, 2018 — and that Hunter Biden responded "no" to a question on the transaction record that asks, "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?"
The outlet noted that five years earlier he had been discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine, and he and family members have spoken about his history of drug use. Lying on the form is a felony, Politico added, although prosecutions very rare. It isn't clear how Hunter Biden's "no" answer could be proven true or untrue at this point.
Politico also said neither Hallie Biden nor George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, responded to its requests for comment.
The ATF referred questions to the Delaware State Police, which in turn told Politico that questions about the incident would have to be filed through a Freedom of Information Act Request. The outlet noted that Delaware State Police rejected its FOIA request for records related to the incident last November.
Politico reported that days after the incident the gun was returned by an older man who regularly rummages through the market's trash to collect recyclable items, citing people familiar with the situation.
TheBlaze and Politico both noted that the incident did not result in charges or arrests.