Attorneys begin opening depositions in Hunter Biden’s federal firearms case | California news


WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – Attorneys will make opening statements Tuesday in the federal gun case against President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, in a trial expected to include testimony from his exes and deeply personal details about his struggles with addiction.

Hunter Biden has been charged with three felonies stemming from the purchase of a firearm in 2018, when he was in the throes of a crack addiction, according to his memoir. He has been accused of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally possessing the gun for 11 days.

Hunter Biden arrived at the courthouse with this woman, Melissa, on Tuesday morning as she stepped out of an SUV. First lady Jill Biden and his sister Ashley Biden joined him in the courtroom again.

The proceedings come after the collapse of a deal with prosecutors that could have avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty and argued he was unfairly targeted by the Justice Department after Republicans characterized the now-defunct plea deal as special treatment for the Democratic president’s son.

The trial comes just days after Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was convicted of 34 crimes in New York City. The two criminal cases are unrelated, but their proximity underlines how the courts have been central to the 2024 campaign.

Jury selection shifted by a split second Monday to the president’s home state, where Hunter Biden grew up and where, the elder Biden often says, the family is deeply rooted. Joe Biden spent 36 years as a senator in Delaware, commuting back and forth from Washington, DC, daily

People just know the story of how Biden’s two young sons, Hunter and Beau, were injured in the car crash that killed his wife and daughter in the early 1970s. And Beau Biden was the former attorney general before he died of cancer at age 46.

Some potential jurors were dismissed because they knew the family personally, others because they had both positive and negative political views of the Bidens and could not be impartial. Yet it took only a day for the jury, consisting of six men and six women plus four women as alternates, to decide the case.

One potential juror who was sent home said she didn’t know if she could be impartial because of the opinions she had formed about Hunter Biden based on media reports.

“It’s not a good one,” she said.

Another was excused for knowing about the case, saying: “It seems like politics plays a big role in who gets accused of what and when.”

But much of the questioning focused on drug use, addiction and gun ownership, as attorneys sought to test potential jurors’ knowledge of the case and dismiss those with strong thoughts about drug use, or who might want to regulate firearms — some of the very people Biden counts as voters.

The panel of 12 was chosen from approximately 65 people. Their names were not made public.

Hunter Biden also faces a trial in California in September on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes. Both cases were said to have been resolved through the deal with prosecutors last July, the result of a years-long investigation into his business dealings.

But Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was nominated to the court by Trump, questioned some unusual aspects of the deal, including a proposed guilty plea to misdemeanor charges to resolve the tax crimes and a diversion agreement on the gun charge, which meant that as long as he stayed out of trouble for two years and the case would be dismissed.

The lawyers were unable to reach a resolution to her questions and the deal collapsed. Attorney General Merrick Garland then appointed the top investigator, a former U.S. attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, as special counsel in August, and Hunter Biden was indicted a month later.

Opening statements come as Garland faces members of the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee in Washington, which has been investigating the president and his family and whose chairman has been at the forefront of a stalled impeachment inquiry stemming from Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

The Delaware trial is not about Hunter Biden’s foreign affairs affairs, although the proceedings would likely bring back dark, embarrassing and painful memories.

The president’s allies worry about the toll the trial could take on the elder Biden, who has long worried about his only living son and his sobriety and who must now watch the painful mistakes of his son’s past be publicly scrutinized. And the president must do that while campaigning under bloodless poll numbers and preparing for an upcoming presidential debate with Trump.

In a statement Monday, the president said he has “boundless love” for his son, “trust in him and respect for his strength.”

“I am the president, but I am also a father,” he said, adding that he would not comment further on the matter. “Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today.”

The first lady sat in the courtroom all day Monday, her 73rd birthday, quietly watching the proceedings from the front row behind the defense table, as did Hunter Biden’s wife, Melissa, and his sister Ashley. The president was in the area most of the day, camping at their home in Wilmington. He left after court adjourned for a campaign reception in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Aboard Air Force One Monday evening, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked if the case could impact the president’s ability to do his job, and she replied: “Absolutely not. ”

“He always puts the American people first and is able to do his job,” said Jean-Pierre, who declined to say whether Biden received updates on the trial throughout the day or spoke to his son after the procedure was completed .

Biden traveled to France on Tuesday evening and will be away for the rest of the week. The first lady will join him later this week.

The case against Hunter Biden stems from a period when he said he was addicted to crack. His descent followed the death of his brother from cancer in 2015. He purchased and owned a gun for 11 days in October 2018 and indicated on the gun purchase form that he did not use drugs.

If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison, though first-time offenders wouldn’t be close to the maximum, and it’s unclear whether the judge would give him time behind bars.

Trump will be sentenced on July 11 by Judge Juan M. Merchan, who raised the specter of prison time during the trial after the former president imposed thousands of dollars in fines for violating a gag order.

Long reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer in Washington and Fatima Hussein aboard Air Force One contributed to this report.

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