After Trump’s Conviction, Biden’s Son’s Trial in Federal Gun Case Begins

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•US President: Jill and I love our son, and we’re proud of the man he is today

Chigozie Amadi

Jury selection in Hunter Biden’s federal gun trial kicked off yesterday in Delaware, as he faced three felony charges stemming from his alleged illegal purchase and possession of a firearm in 2018, while he was a drug user.

President Joe Biden was not at the hearing, as he was scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Connecticut, but he did issue a statement, declining to weigh in on the trial, but offering a statement of support for his son, CBS News reported.

“Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Biden’s statement read. He added, “Hunter’s resilience in the face of adversity and the strength he has brought to his recovery are inspiring to us. A lot of families have loved ones who have overcome addiction and know what we mean.”

That came days after a Manhattan jury found former American President, Donald Trump, guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records in his hush money criminal trial, an unprecedented and historic verdict that makes him the first former president in US history to be convicted of felony.

Judge Juan Merchan set a sentencing hearing for July 11, while Trump’s sentence was up to the judge, and it could include prison time or probation.

Joe Biden’s son was indicted by a federal grand jury in September after a diversion agreement for a felony gun offence and a plea deal related to misdemeanour tax charges unravelled, when US District Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned whether the agreement would allow him to avoid potential future charges.

Norieka declined to allow Hunter Biden’s lawyers to admit into evidence a second version of the firearms purchase form he filled out to buy the gun. His attorney, Abbe Lowell, claimed new information had been added to that second version after the criminal investigation had begun, including information about the types of identification Hunter Biden had presented.

Norieka noted in her order that on both forms, “no” was checked next to the question about whether the applicant was an “unlawful user or addict.”

All but one juror was made aware of the case by news reports, and many said they had an immediate connection to someone struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.

In the three-count indictment, the president’s son was charged with making false statements on a federal gun form about his drug use, certifying he was not a user of or addicted to any controlled substance during a period when prosecutors alleged he was addicted to crack cocaine.

Biden purchased a Colt Cobra 38 Special revolver, and it remained in his possession for 11 days before it was discarded in an outdoor receptacle by Hallie Biden, Hunter Biden’s romantic partner at the time.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys decried the charges and argued they were “unconstitutional” and “unprecedented,” as well as in violation of the diversion agreement they maintain was still legally binding and valid.

A flurry of motions to dismiss filed by Hunter Biden’s attorneys were denied by Noreika, and a federal appeals court rejected his motion to dismiss the gun charges in May.

Prosecutors were expected to introduce evidence that details Hunter Biden’s use of controlled substances leading up to and during the period he purchased the firearm. In their trial brief, they referenced his own admission of drug addiction in excerpts from his memoir, Beautiful Things, as well as photos and videos from his laptop and text messages.

The government also intended to include testimony from Hunter Biden’s former romantic partners recounting his substance abuse, including his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and Hallie Biden, the widow of his late brother, Beau Biden, and expert testimony from FBI and DEA agents.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys sought to call their own expert witnesses on addiction and forensic psychiatry and forensic toxicology.

The charges were brought by special counsel David Weiss, who was appointed US attorney for Delaware by Trump and named special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2023. Federal probes into Hunter Biden, led by Weiss, spanned five years over the course of both the Trump and Biden administrations.

Attorneys for Hunter Biden asserted that Weiss “buckled under political pressure to bring more severe charges” after the plea agreement elicited a “sharp rebuke” from Trump and his Republican allies, when it was first made public.

Weiss’ office slammed claims that the charges were fuelled by politics and were pursued to appease Republicans.

Prosecutors said, “The charges in this case are not trumped up or because of former President Trump—they are instead a result of the defendant’s own choices and were brought in spite of, not because of, any outside noise made by politicians.”

Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines if convicted on all counts.

Separately, he faces nine federal tax charges in the central district of California in a second indictment brought by Weiss’ office where federal prosecutors allege Biden’s son engaged in a “four-year scheme” to avoid paying at least $1.4 million in federal taxes.

Hunter Biden is charged with three felony and six misdemeanour charges related to his alleged failure to file and pay taxes, evasion of assessment, and filing a false or fraudulent tax return. Biden has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

His motions to dismiss the federal tax charges were all denied by US District Judge Mark Scarsi in April. If convicted, Hunter Biden faces up to 17 years in prison.