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Jury in Hunter Biden case sees evidence of addiction and hears: “No one is above the law”

WILMINGTON: In the historic criminal trial of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, prosecutors told jurors Tuesday that there was overwhelming evidence that the younger Biden lied to conceal his drug addiction so he could illegally buy a gun. The defense, however, said he had no intention of deceiving.

In the first trial of the child of a sitting U.S. president, jurors in a federal court in Delaware heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense before testimony began.

Prosecutors showed jurors text messages in which Hunter Biden conducted drug deals and discussed smoking crack cocaine, including within days of his purchase of a Colt Cobra revolver in October 2018. They also played excerpts from the audiobook version of his autobiography in which he described his “bloodhound” instinct for searching for crack at the time of his gun purchase.

Prosecutor Derek Hines said in his opening statement that “the evidence was overwhelming” and was written in the defendant’s own words.

“Addiction is not a crime. Lying is,” Hines said.

Hunter Biden, 54, has pleaded not guilty to three charges. He is accused of concealing his drug use when purchasing the weapon and of illegally possessing the weapon for eleven days.

The trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, began after Donald Trump became the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime last week. Trump is the Republican candidate running against Democrat Joe Biden in the U.S. election on November 5. Neither the prosecution nor the defense addressed the issue directly.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell told jurors in his opening statement that no one disputes that Hunter Biden was addicted to drugs before and after the gun purchase. However, Lowell told jurors that Hunter Biden’s gun purchase form only asked him if he was currently addicted to drugs, not if he had used drugs in the past. He added that his client had no “intent to deceive.”

The trial in Wilmington, the Bidens’ hometown, comes as Trump and his allies in Congress continue to accuse the Justice Department of prosecuting the former president for political reasons.

Trump-appointed US special counsel David Weiss brought the charges against Hunter Biden and was present in the courtroom on Tuesday. Weiss has filed separate federal charges against Hunter Biden in California.

The trial offers a glimpse into Hunter Biden’s years-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction. Hunter Biden told Noreika at a hearing last year that he has been sober since mid-2019.

If convicted on all counts, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, defendants typically receive shorter prison sentences.

“FIND CRACK ANYTIME”

FBI agent Erika Jensen was called as the prosecution’s first witness to testify about Hunter Biden’s text messages, bank records and documents about his drug use.

These included a text message the day after Hunter Biden bought the gun in which he said he was “waiting for a dealer named Mookie,” and another the next day in which he said he slept on the roof of a car and smoked crack.

Hines asked Jensen about Hunter Biden’s 2021 autobiography, “Beautiful Things,” in which he documented his addiction. Hines played about 30 minutes of Biden’s monotone voice narrating the audiobook, including passages in which he described his constant hunt for drugs and what he called his “superpower — finding crack anytime, anywhere.”

Jensen also described Hunter Biden’s bank records, which showed that he made almost daily cash withdrawals totaling $151,000 from September to November 2018, the period in which he purchased the gun.

Lowell said Hunter Biden did not have a credit card at the time and spent thousands of dollars obtaining drugs.

Tuesday’s hearing ended shortly after Lowell began cross-examining Jensen, which is scheduled to continue Wednesday.

Hines said prosecutors will call Hunter Biden’s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, who accused him of wasting money on drugs, alcohol and prostitutes in their 2017 divorce proceedings, as a witness. Hallie Biden, the widow of Beau Biden, Hunter’s brother who died of cancer in 2015, is also expected to testify.

Trump is set to be sentenced on July 11 after a jury in a New York court found him guilty last Thursday of 34 counts of forgery in an attempt to cover up hush money paid to a porn star to prevent a sex scandal shortly before the 2016 US election.

He has pleaded not guilty to three other pending criminal charges, two related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and one alleging that he improperly retained classified national security documents after leaving office in 2021.

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