The Secret Service reportedly interceded two years ago on behalf of President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, in an alleged attempt to quash evidence of a gun purchase after the revolver vanished.
Agents tried to obtain the paperwork for the gun's sale to Hunter Biden from the store where he bought it, however, the owner refused to hand over the documents, according to two sources who spoke to Politico.
The report surfaced on the day President Biden was scheduled to hold his first solo press conference since taking office in January.
The Secret Service said it had no record of agents investigating the incident, and the president, not under protection at that time, said through a spokesperson he had no knowledge of Secret Service involvement, according to Politico.
Law enforcement officials told the outlet that any involvement by the Secret Service on behalf of the Biden family or on its own initiative would be inappropriate in an incident that was already under investigation by Delaware State Police with the involvement of the FBI.
According to law enforcement officials and a copy of the police report obtained by Politico, Hunter Biden's sister-in-law, Hallie, found the .38 revolver on Oct. 23, 2018 during a search of Hunter's pickup truck.
She then reportedly took Hunter's gun, wrapped it in a shopping bag, and threw it in a trash can behind a high-end grocery store. When she returned later to retrieve it, the gun was gone.
Because the trash can was located across from a high school, Delaware police began investigating and grew concerned the missing gun could be used in a crime, according to Politico.
Secret Service agents then reportedly approached the owner of the store where Hunter bought the gun. They requested the paperwork involving the sale, according to two people — one with firsthand knowledge of the episode, and another who was briefed after the fact by a Secret Service agent.
The store owner, Ron Palmieri, refused to hand over the paperwork because he suspected the agents wanted to hide ownership of the missing gun in case it were to be involved in a crime, the two people said.
Palmieri eventually turned over the papers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which oversees federal gun laws.
The gun was returned days later by an older man who regularly rummages through the grocery store’s trash to collect recyclable items, according to Politico's sources.
No charges or arrests resulted from the incident.
Although Joe Biden was not under Secret Service protection at the time, individual Secret Service agents at offices in Wilmington, Del., and Philadelphia informally monitored the former vice president’s security, according to one law enforcement official.
As an example, the official said the Secret Service's Wilmington office called the Delaware State Police in 2019 to arrange security for a public appearance by Joe Biden.
The Secret Service declined to confirm whether it had informal involvement in Biden's security during that period. A Delaware State Police spokesman added: "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."
In copies of the Firearms Transaction Record and a receipt for the gun dated Oct. 12, 2018, and obtained by Politico, Hunter Biden answered "no" to a question asking, "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?"
Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy Reserve five years earlier after testing positive for cocaine. He and family members have spoken about his history of drug use.
Lying on the form is a felony, but such offenses aren't typically prosecuted.
Neither George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, nor Hallie Biden responded to requests for comment from Politico.
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