Hunter Biden federal gun case opens

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Lawyers will make opening statements Tuesday in the federal gun case against Hunter, President Joe Biden’s son After a jury was seated for trial while the first lady watched from the courtroom and the president sent a message of support.

Hunter Biden He was charged with three misdemeanors stemming from a gun purchase in 2018 while he was, according to his memoir, in the grip of a crack addiction. He was charged with lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false statement on the application that he was not a drug user, and illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days.

The proceedings come after a failed deal with prosecutors that would have avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty and claimed he was unfairly targeted by the Department of Justice. Justice after Republicans decried 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 At New York. The two criminal cases are unrelated, but their proximity underscores the extent to which the courts have taken center stage in the 2024 campaign.

Jury selection moved to Monday clip in the president’s home statewhere Hunter Biden grew up and where, the elder Biden often says, the family runs deep. Joe Biden has passed 36 years as a senator from Delaware, communicating daily from Washington, D.C.

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

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

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

“It’s not a good thing,” she said.

Another was excused because he was aware of the case and said: “It appears politics plays a large role in determining who gets charged with what and when.” »

But much of the questioning focused on drug use, addiction and gun ownership, as lawyers sought to test prospective jurors’ knowledge of the case and weed out those with strong views. on drug use or who would like to regulate firearms. some of the people Biden considers his voters.

The panel of 12 people was chosen from around 65 people. Their names have not been made public. They included a woman whose sister was convicted about 10 years ago of credit card fraud and drug charges in Delaware, a man whose father was killed in a gun crime and a woman married to a former law enforcement officer who is also a licensed gun owner.

Hunter Biden will also be tried in California in September for non-payment of $1.4 million in taxes. Both cases should have been resolved thanks to the agreement with prosecutors last July, the culmination of a years-long investigation into his business dealings.

But Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, questioned some unusual aspects of the deal, which included a proposed guilty plea for minor offenses to resolve tax crimes and an agreement to diversion on the gun charge, which meant as long as he stayed out of trouble for two years and the case would be dismissed.

The lawyers failed to find a solution to his questions and the deal collapsed. Attorney General Merrick Garland then named the lead investigator, a former Delaware U.S. attorney, David Weiss, as special counsel in August, and a month later Hunter Biden was indicted.

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

The Delaware trial is not about Hunter Biden’s foreign affairs, although the proceedings risked bringing up dark, embarrassing and painful memories.

The president’s allies are worried the toll that the trial could take on the elder Biden, who has long worried about her only living son and his sobriety and now must watch her son’s painful past mistakes be publicly scrutinized. And the president must do it as he campaigns amid anemic polling and prepares to an upcoming presidential debate with Trump.

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

“I am the president, but I am also a father,” he said, adding that he would make no further comment on the matter. “Jill and I love our son and are very proud of the man he is today.”

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

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked aboard Air Force One Monday evening whether the affair could affect 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 whether he had spoken to his son after the procedure was completed.

Biden was traveling to France on Tuesday evening and will be away the rest of the week. The first lady is expected to join him later this week.

The case against Hunter Biden dates back to a period when, by his own public admission, he was addicted to crack cocaine. His descent followed the death of his brother in 2015 of cancer. He purchased and possessed a firearm 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, although first-time offenders don’t come close to the maximum, and it’s clear whether the judge would grant him any prison time.

Trump is ready to be judged on July 11 by Judge Juan M. Mercan, who raised the specter of prison during the trial after the former president racked up thousands of dollars in fines for violating a hush order.


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


Follow AP’s coverage of Hunter Biden at

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