Opening statements set to begin in Hunter Biden gun trial after jury selection yesterday

WILMINGTON, Del. — Opening statements began Tuesday in Hunter Biden’s federal criminal trial, with a prosecutor telling jurors that “No one is above the law.”

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what your name is,” said prosecutor Derek Hines, as he presented special prosecutor David Weiss’ case against President Joe Biden’s son.

Defendants are being tried “because of the choices they made,” Hines said. Hunter Biden, he added, “chose to illegally possess a firearm” and “chose to lie” about his drug use when he purchased the gun.

Biden Hunter is charged with three counts related to possessing a firearm while consuming narcotics. Two of the charges accuse him of filling out a form indicating he was not using illegal drugs when he purchased a Colt Cobra revolver on October 1. 12, 2018. The third count alleges that he possessed a firearm while using a narcotic. “No one has the right to lie on a federal form like this. Not even Hunter Biden,” Hines said.

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Hunter Biden in federal court on June 3, 2024 in Wilmington, Del. Matt Slocum/AP

The indictment says Biden certified on a federally mandated form “that he was not an unlawful user of or addicted to any stimulant, narcotic or other controlled substance, when in fact as he knew, this statement was false and fictitious. “

Hines told jurors that Hunter Biden described his behavior at the time as smoking “every 15 minutes, seven days a week.” He boasted in his book that he had a “superpower” that allowed him to find crack anywhere, Hines said.

“Addiction may not be a choice, but lying and owning a gun is a choice,” Hines said.

Hunter Biden, 54, has pleaded not guilty.

His lawyer, Father Lowell, acknowledged that his client “purchased a small handgun” but said it “was never loaded” and he “never used it.”

He said prosecutors must prove Hunter Biden “knowingly violated the law” when he purchased the gun, and suggested they would not be able to do so.

He said his client did not violate the law “knowingly and with intent to deceive.”

Lowell told the jury there was no disagreement that Biden had abused alcohol since his teens and drugs as an adult, and cited some of his family history, including death of his mother and sister in a car accident in 1972 which also injured him. him and his brother, Beau.

He disputed the fact that his client was using crack cocaine at the time of purchasing the weapon. “There may be high-functioning alcoholics, but there is no such thing as a high-functioning crack addict,” he said.

The jury of 12 people – six men and six women – and four alternates was selected Monday from a pool of more than 60 potential jurors. Proceedings were delayed about an hour Tuesday morning when one of the jurors withdrew, citing financial difficulties. She was replaced by one of the alternates.

In court Monday and Tuesday in support of Hunter Biden was his mother-in-law, first lady Jill Biden. Both days, she sat next to Hunter Biden’s wife, Melissa Cohen-Biden, in the audience.

Also in the audience was Garrett Ziegler, a former Trump White House aide who Hunter Biden is suing for allegedly violating federal and state data laws in connection with the online publication of data that he claimed had been taken from the first son’s famous laptop. The suit says Ziegler and his nonprofit “have, at least to some extent, accessed, tampered with, manipulated, altered, copied, and damaged plaintiff’s data.”

Cohen-Biden confronted Ziegler during a morning break and told him, “You have no right to be here, you Nazi bastard,” she walked away before he could respond.

Ziegler told NBC News: “For the record, I am not a Nazi. I believe in the American Constitution. He said it was “prudent” for him to appear in court, and called the lawsuit against him “completely frivolous.”

A source close to the situation said they expected “a steady stream of family and friends” of Biden to be present throughout the trial.

At least 15 people on the panel said they had family members, relatives or close friends with substance abuse issues, including four who were ultimately selected. A source close to the president and first lady said they appreciate the many people who have been affected by addiction or substance abuse and have long believed that people understand the complexity of this dynamic and that they ‘had seen appear in court.

Prosecutors’ first witness was FBI Special Agent Erika Jensen. Jensen was presenting some of prosecutors’ evidence, including text messages that they say show Biden was using crack cocaine in the months before and after purchasing the gun.

Among the messages prosecutors plan to introduce is one from the day after the purchase, in which he sent a message to someone saying he was “waiting for a dealer.” They also plan to introduce one from October. January 14, 2018, in which he allegedly wrote: “I was sleeping on a car smoking crack. »

Jensen also presented passages from the audiobook version of Hunter Biden’s 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things,” in which he discusses his drug use in detail. The audiobook was read by Hunter Biden himself, allowing survivors to hear his descriptions in his own voice. In a passage presented to the jury, he said, “walking into a high-crime neighborhood and buying crack was like playing Russian roulette,” sometimes with five bullets in the chamber.

In another, he said there was “no honor among us crackheads.”

Hines said they plan to call about eight witnesses in total. Among them are three women with whom Hunter Biden was romantically involved: Hallie Olivere Biden, the widow of his late brother Beau; a Californian named Zoe Kestan; and Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle.

The widow “will testify about her own crack use” with Hunter Biden, Hines said. She and Kestan will be tested under immunity deals, he said. Buhle did not use drugs herself and has no immunity agreement, Hines said.

Lowell said he wants to call the gun store owner as a witness and two to three expert witnesses. Weiss’ office disputed some expert testimony.

Gary Grumbach, Daniel Barnes, Owen Hayes and Sarah Fitzpatrick reported from Wilmington, Del. and Dareh Gregorian reported from New York.

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