Prosecutor rests his case in Hunter Biden’s federal weapons trial | National news


WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – Federal prosecutors wrapped up their gun case against Hunter Biden on Friday with two final witnesses as they try to prove that the president’s son lied on a required gun purchase form when he said he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Prosecutors called an FBI forensic chemist, Jason Brewer, who tested a residue found on the leather pouch that contained Hunter Biden’s gun. The result came back positive for cocaine, although the amount was minimal, he told jurors. A Drug Enforcement Administration agent testified about text messages Hunter Biden sent to alleged dealers.

Their testimony capped a week largely devoted to highlighting the severity of Hunter Biden’s drug problem through deeply personal and often revealing testimony. Defense attorneys are now allowed to call witnesses.

Jurors heard Thursday from Hunter Biden’s ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend who testified about his habitual crack use and their failed attempts to help him get clean. They saw images of the president’s son, bare-chested and disheveled in a filthy room, and half-naked with crack pipes in his hand. And they watched a video of his crack cocaine weighed on a scale.

Prosecutors say the evidence is needed to prove that Hunter, 54, was in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and therefore lied when he checked “no” on the form asking if he was “an unlawful user of or addicted to drugs.

His attorney, Abbe Lowell, has argued that Hunter did not consider himself an “addict” when he bought the gun and did not intend to deceive anyone.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden tried to walk the line between president and father, telling ABC in an interview that he would accept the jury’s verdict and rule out a pardon for his son. Earlier this week, he issued a statement saying: “I am the president, but I am also a father. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today.”

Biden is in France this week for D-Day anniversary events. First lady Jill Biden, who was present in court most of the week, flew back from France on Thursday to attend the trial again on Friday. She returns to France for a state dinner.

Hunter Biden has been charged with three crimes: 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.

He has pleaded not guilty. He had hoped to resolve the gun case and another separate tax case in California last year with a settlement, the result of a years-long investigation into his business dealings. The deal saw him plead guilty to lower-level charges that would have resolved both cases and spared him the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. It fell apart after Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned unusual aspects of the proposed deal and lawyers failed to resolve them.

Hunter Biden said he was charged because the Justice Department bowed to pressure from Republicans who claimed the Democratic president’s son received special treatment and who have escalated their attacks on the criminal justice system since Donald Trump’s recent conviction in New York City with hush money. case.

Lowell said he would call the president’s brother James as a witness, but it is still unclear whether Hunter Biden will testify.

But jurors have already heard his voice. Prosecutors played in court lengthy audio clips from his 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things,” in which he writes about his lifelong addiction problems and spiraling descent after the death of his brother Beau in 2015. The book, written after he got sober, covers the period he had the gun, but doesn’t specifically mention it.

Lowell has said Hunter Biden’s state of mind was different when he wrote the book than it was when he bought the gun, when he didn’t believe he had an addiction. He pointed out to jurors that some of the questions about the firearms transaction were asked in the present tense, such as “are you an unlawful user of or addicted to” drugs.

And he has suggested that Hunter Biden might have felt at the time that he had a drinking problem, but not a drug problem. Alcohol abuse does not preclude the purchase of a weapon.

The reason law enforcement asked questions about the revolver is because Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow, found it unloaded in Hunter’s truck on October 23, 2018, panicked and threw it in a trash bin at a nearby market. She testified about the episode Thursday.

She told jurors she considered hiding the gun, but thought her children might find it, so she decided to throw it away.

“I realize now it was a stupid idea, but I panicked,” she said. “I didn’t want him to hurt himself, and I didn’t want my kids to find out and hurt themselves.”

Hallie Biden, who had a brief romantic relationship with Hunter after Beau died, testified that from the time Hunter returned to Delaware from a trip to California in 2018 until she threw away his gun, she did not see him using drugs. That period included the day he purchased the gun.

But much of her testimony focused on Oct. 23, 2018 – 11 days after he bought it. Hunter was staying with her and seemed exhausted. When asked by the prosecutor if it appeared Hunter was using drugs at the time, she said, “It could have been.”

While Hunter slept in her house, Hallie Biden went to check on his car. She said she hoped to help him get or stay sober, free of both alcohol and cocaine. She said she found the remains of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. She also found the gun Hunter had purchased in a box with a broken lock that prevented it from being fully closed. There was also ammunition.

She put it in a leather bag, put the bag in a bag and threw it in the trash can at the Janssenmarkt. He noticed it was missing and asked her if she had brought it.

“Are you crazy?” he texted. He told her to go back to the market and look for it.

Surveillance footage played for jurors showed her digging in the trash for the gun, but it wasn’t there. She asked store employees if anyone had taken out the trash. Hallie testified that Hunter told her to file a police report because the gun was registered in his name. While still in the store, she called the police.

Officers located the man who had accidentally taken the gun from the trash along with other recyclables and retrieved it. The case was eventually closed due to lack of cooperation from Hunter Biden, who was considered a victim.

Jurors also heard from the officers who handled the case, the man who found the gun and the store clerk who sold Hunter the revolver.

If convicted, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, although first-time offenders won’t get close to the maximum, and it’s unclear whether the judge would give him a prison sentence.

He also faces a separate trial in September on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes.

Long reported from Washington.

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