Opening statements in Hunter Biden’s gun trial spotlight his addiction

Opening statements in Hunter Biden’s gun trial spotlight his addiction

Federal prosecutors told jurors Tuesday that Hunter Biden’s status as a “drug addict” caused him to lie on federal forms to unlawfully purchase a gun in 2018, promising that witnesses would testify to his insatiable desire to stay high.

But attorneys for the son of President Biden said a series of “traumas” led Hunter Biden toward a life consumed by addiction, and that when he bought that gun, he did not think of himself as someone with a drug problem.

“You will see that he is not guilty,” attorney Abbe Lowell said, according to The Associated Press.

Hunter Biden’s addiction to cocaine, as he recounted in his 2021 memoir, took a central role in the opening statements of the first criminal trial of a sitting president’s child.

He faces three felony counts alleging he made false statements about his use of illicit drugs when obtaining the gun, and then unlawfully possessed it for 11 days. He has pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutor Derek Hines said Tuesday that, just days after Hunter Biden checked “no” on a federal gun purchase form questioning whether he unlawfully used or was addicted to marijuana or other narcotics, he was looking to score drugs.

The prosecutor called addiction “depressing” but maintained it wasn’t the reason the case against Hunter Biden was brought.

“No one is allowed to lie on a federal form like that, even Hunter Biden,” Hines said, according to AP. “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.”

Prosecutors used Hunter Biden’s own words against him to show his drug use was out of control.

They played several excerpts of Hunter Biden’s memoir, “Beautiful Things,” in which the president’s son describes himself as having a “superpower” for buying crack cocaine in any town and how “walking into a high crime neighborhood and buying crack was like playing Russian roulette,” according to NBC News.

“When the defendant filled out that form, he knew he was a drug addict,” Hines said, noting that prosecutors don’t have to prove the president’s son was using the day he bought the gun to prove him guilty.

However, Hunter Biden’s attorneys have contended that in checking “no,” he may have thought he was telling the truth. Lowell pointed jurors to the minutiae of the federal gun purchase form, which asks whether you “are” a drug user.

“It does not say ‘Have you ever been,’” Lowell said, suggesting that the president’s son did not view himself as someone with a drug problem when he purchased the gun, AP reported.

In recent court filings, Lowell wrote that Hunter Biden had just completed an 11-day stint in rehab and was living with a sober companion, contending he could “surely believe he was not a present tense user or addict.”

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Lowell added Tuesday that Hunter Biden’s state of mind at the time of the purchase should be considered by jurors, not “what he wrote in a book in 2021,” and that prosecutors must prove he knowingly violated the law, AP reported.

He claimed the president’s son was in a “deep state of denial” about his drug use and reeling from traumas throughout his life, including when his mother and sister died in a 1972 car crash that he and his brother, Beau Biden, survived, as well as Beau Biden’s 2015 death from cancer.

The defense attorney placed some blame on Hallie Biden, Beau Biden’s widow with whom Hunter Biden had a relationship after his brother’s death, by suggesting Hunter Biden locked up the gun while Hallie Biden put it in a bag and disposed of it. Hallie Biden is expected to testify in the government’s case.

Two other women who were romantically involved with Hunter Biden are expected to testify about his drug use, too: his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and Zoe Kestan, who says she observed him smoking crack.

Hunter Biden’s criminal trial is expected to last about two weeks. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.

The president’s son faces separate charges in California for allegedly failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes and filing false returns, which could go to trial in September. President Biden is not accused of wrongdoing in either case.

In the first two days of trial, members of the Biden family have shown up in support of Hunter Biden. First lady Jill Biden and his sister, Ashley Biden, have been present both days. President Biden has not shown up at the courthouse but issued a rare statement in support of his son.

The Associated Press contributed.

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