NATIONAL NEWS

Cross-examination of FBI agent continues in Hunter Biden’s gun trial, as first lady again attends

Jun 5, 2024, 9:26 AM

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JUNE 03: Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, arrives with his wif...

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JUNE 03: Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, arrives with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden to the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 3 2024, in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden is standing trial for felony gun charges. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Hunter Biden’s gun trial have spent hours showing jurors evidence of his drug problem, seeking to reveal through his own words and writing the depth of his addiction to show it was still going on when, they say, he lied on a form to buy a firearm.

First lady Jill Biden went to court Wednesday for the third day to support her son, ahead of her trip to France to meet President Joe Biden, who was in Europe to mark the anniversary of D-Day.

Testimony continued with cross-examination of an FBI agent who was being questioned about the timing of Hunter Biden’s drug use. Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, was also expected to take the stand. She was married to the president’s son for roughly 20 years. They have three children and divorced in 2016 after his infidelity and drug abuse became too much, according to her memoir, “If We Break,” about the dissolution of their marriage.

Buhle is among several Biden family and friends expected to testify in a trial that has quickly become a highly personal and detailed tour of Hunter Biden’s mistakes and drug use. The proceedings are unfolding as the 2024 presidential election looms and allies worry about the toll it will take on the president, who is deeply concerned about the health and sustained sobriety of his only living son. Prosecutors argue that the testimony is necessary to show Hunter Biden’s state of mind when he bought the gun.

Hunter Biden has been charged with three felonies stemming from the purchase of a gun in October 2018. He’s 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 having the gun for 11 days.

“No one is allowed to lie on a federal form like that, even Hunter Biden,” prosecutor Derek Hines told jurors Tuesday. “He crossed the line when he chose to buy a gun and lied about a federal background check … the defendant’s choice to buy a gun is why we are here.”

As evidence of his drug use at the time of purchase, prosecutors showed jurors dozens of pages of Hunter Biden’s memoir “Beautiful Things,” written in 2021 after he got sober. They also heard lengthy audio excerpts from the book, which traces his descent into addiction following the death of his brother, Beau Biden, in 2015 from cancer and covers the period he bought the gun, though it doesn’t mention the weapon specifically.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell has said Hunter Biden’s state of mind was different when he wrote the book than when he purchased the gun, when he didn’t believe he had an addiction. And the prosecutors must prove he had a drug problem when he filled out the document at the time of purchase.

In his cross-examination of the FBI agent, Erika Jensen, Lowell pointed out several liquor store purchases in October 2018, the month Hunter Biden bought the gun. Lowell has suggested that references in his memoir to “relapsing” refer to alcohol abuse, not drug use.

Lowell also asked Jensen about text message exchanges that prosecutors say show evidence of Hunter Biden’s drug use in 2018 and 2019. But Lowell pointed to a text to sent in November 2018 in which he confessed: “I’m a drunk.”

The Delaware trial comes after the collapse of a plea deal with prosecutors that would have resolved the gun case and a separate California tax case and avoided the spectacle of a trial. Hunter Biden has since pleaded not guilty and has said he’s being unfairly targeted by the Justice Department, after Republicans slammed the now-defunct plea agreement as a sweetheart deal for the Democratic president’s son.

The 12-person panel heard opening statements Tuesday and testimony from Jensen, who read aloud some of Hunter Biden’s personal messages, including some that came from a laptop he left at a Delaware repair shop and never retrieved. In 2020, the contents made their way to Republicans and were publicly leaked, revealing some highly personal messages about his work and his life. He has since sued over the leaked information.

In one exchange with Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, on the day after he bought the gun, she wrote: “I called you 500 times in past 24 hours.” Hunter replied less than a minute later, informing her that he was “sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th street and Rodney.”

“There’s my truth,” he added in a follow-up text.

But during cross-examination, Jensen testified that Hunter Biden sent fewer messages about seeking drugs in October 2018, around the time when he purchased the gun, than in February 2019, a later period in which Lowell described his client as struggling significantly with addiction.

Lowell also called into question the receipts for a rehab facility, asking whether Jensen knew whether he had been treated for drugs or alcohol. She said she did not.

Attorneys said jurors would hear testimony from the president’s brother James Biden, who is close with Hunter and helped his nephew through rehab stints in the past. They will also hear how Hallie Biden became addicted to crack during a brief relationship with Hunter.

Hallie took the gun from Hunter and tossed it into the garbage at a nearby market, afraid of what he might do with it. The weapon was later found by someone collecting cans and eventually turned over to police.

If convicted, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, though first-time offenders do not get anywhere near the maximum, and it’s unclear whether the judge would give him time behind bars.

The trial is unfolding shortly after Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was convicted of 34 felonies in New York City. The two criminal cases are unrelated, but their proximity underscores how the courts have taken center stage during the 2024 campaign.

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

But Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was nominated to the bench by Trump, questioned some unusual aspects of the deal. The lawyers could not come to a resolution on her questions, and the deal fell apart. Attorney General Merrick Garland then appointed a former U.S. attorney for Delaware David Weiss, as a special counsel in August, and a month later Hunter Biden was indicted.

___

Long reported from Washington.

Prospective jurors in Hunter Biden’s firearms case questioned on gun rights, addiction

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Cross-examination of FBI agent continues in Hunter Biden’s gun trial, as first lady again attends