4 important takeaways from the first day of testimony in Hunter Biden’s gun trial

Testimony in Hunter Biden’s gun trial began Tuesday as jurors for the first time heard the president’s son describe in his own voice the years he spent “non-stop” battling drug addiction .

The younger Biden faces three counts of lying on a federal form about his drug use to obtain a gun in 2018, and lawyers for both sides on Tuesday laid out the central question at which are confronted the jurors: whether he “knowingly” lied.

Several members of the Biden family attended the proceedings for a second straight day, including first lady Jill Biden and President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden. In the coming days, several other Bidens are expected to take the witness stand, including Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, his brother’s widow, his uncle and perhaps even his daughter.

Testimony resumes Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET.

Here are four key takeaways from the second day of debates.

The contours of the case take shape

Government prosecutors and defense attorneys were spared in their opening statements Tuesday morning on the question of whether Hunter Biden knowingly lied on a federal firearm form — the act underlying all three charges crimes he now faces.

Prosecutor Derek Hines told jurors they should make “no distinction for Hunter Biden or anyone else” when weighing the case against the president’s son. Biden is on trial “because he chose to lie” on ATF Form 4473 about his drug use.

“No one is allowed to lie on a federal form like that,” Hines said. “Not even Hunter Biden.”

Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Biden, refuted the suggestion that Hunter Biden “knowingly” lied, instead suggesting his client misunderstood the form and was not actively abusing drugs at the time.

“He did not knowingly violate these laws,” Lowell said, because there was “nothing on the form regarding the definition of a user.”

Lowell told the jury that Hunter Biden was drinking alcohol at the time of purchasing the gun, but his drug use “didn’t start until later.” During the time in 2018 that Hunter Biden was in Delaware, where he purchased the gun, his behavior was “completely inconsistent” with how he presented himself while on drugs.

“He talked with his father, his uncle and his daughters,” Lowell said, suggesting they would have noticed him if he was “smoking crack every 15 minutes,” in the manner described by Hunter Biden in his memoir , “Beautiful Things.”

“There is no such thing as a high-level crack addict,” Lowell told the juniors.

Hunter Biden is heard in his own words

Hunter Biden may never take the witness stand in his own defense — but that didn’t stop jurors from hearing his voice.

Prosecutors played excerpts from the audiobook of Hunter Biden’s memoir — which Hunter Biden himself narrated — over loud speakers in the courtroom for jurors to hear. His lyrics described in great detail his “relentless debauchery” as a drug addict in early 2018, just months before he purchased the Colt Cobra firearm.

Biden Hunter, in audio excerpts, described a “cross-country crack-filled odyssey” in 2017 and recounted how his abuse of crack escalated to the point where he was using it “every hour, every day “.

It’s not just juniors who have heard Hunter Biden’s painful memories. His family – wife, mother-in-law and stepsister – also listened from their seats in the stand. First lady Jill Biden and her daughter Ashley Biden sat side by side for much of the day, often leaning their heads against each other.

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, arrives in federal court with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, during the second day of his trial on criminal gun charges in Wilmington, Del., June 4, 2024.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

At one point, as Hunter Biden recalled a particularly debauched 12-day “roll” in Los Angeles, the first lady raised her left arm and wrapped it around her daughter’s shoulders.

Prosecutors also presented several text messages as evidence, including one that Hunter Biden sent to his brother’s widow, Hallie Biden, as their romantic relationship was crumbling.

“I am a liar and a thief, a blamer and a consumer, and I am a delusional and an addict, unlike the afterlife and especially the addicts you know, and I have ruined every relationship I never cherished,” he wrote.

The infamous laptop presented as evidence

Prosecutors introduced into evidence the infamous laptop that made headlines before the 2020 presidential election, after Hunter Biden allegedly left it with a computer repairman in Wilmington, Delaware.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers had previously tried to exclude the laptop as evidence during the trial, arguing that they had “numerous reasons to believe that the data had been altered and compromised before investigators obtained the electronic material “. But special counsel David Weiss argued in court that Hunter Biden’s lawyers had “provided no evidence or information showing that his laptop contained false information,” and the judge agreed to admit them into evidence.

Against this backdrop, prosecutors said they cross-referenced every email, WhatsApp, iMessage and text message found with Apple Inc. to establish the credibility of the data.

“Ultimately, by examining this laptop, were investigators able to confirm that it was indeed Hunter Biden’s?” Hines asked FBI witness Erika Jensen.

“Yes,” she replied.

Jensen explained that investigators identified a serial number on the laptop that “matches Apple subpoena records…from that particular device to the iCloud account on a particular date.”

Prosecutors also showed jurors an $85 bill from the Wilmington computer repair shop where Hunter Biden dropped off the laptop for repair, which had been sent to an email address belonging to Hunter Biden .

Members of the Biden family could take a stand next

The trial will resume Wednesday when Jensen continues his cross-examination. Lowell said he had at least one more topic to address before turning it over to the government.

After Jensen, prosecutors suggested Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter Biden’s brother Beau Biden, would take the stand next, followed by Hunter Biden’s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle.

Lowell also said Tuesday that James Biden, the president’s brother, would take the defense — as would one of Hunter Biden’s daughters.

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