Hunter Biden criminal trial jury told ‘no one is above the law’ By Reuters

By Tom Hals and Jack Queen

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) -The prosecution laid out its case on Tuesday in the historic criminal trial of Hunter Biden on gun charges, telling jurors that President Joe Biden’s son was a drug addict who lied on paperwork to obtain a revolver and that “no one is above the law.”

Jurors in federal court in Delaware heard opening statements from prosecution and defense lawyers before the first witness, an FBI agent, was called. Defense attorney Abbe Lowell told the jury that evidence presented in the trial will show that Hunter Biden, 54, did not knowingly violate the law.

It is the first trial of the child of a sitting U.S. president, with U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika presiding. Donald Trump last week became the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Derek Hines walked jurors through the events of October 2018, when prosecutors have said Hunter Biden lied on his background check about his drug use while buying the gun.

“It was illegal because he was user of crack and a drug addict,” Hines told the jury. “No one is above the law.”

Trump is the Republican candidate challenging Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the Nov. 5 U.S. election. Neither the prosecution nor the defense directly addressed that issue.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to three felony charges accusing him of failing to disclose his use of illegal drugs when he bought a Colt Cobra .38-caliber revolver and of illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days in October 2018.

Lowell urged jurors to listen carefully to evidence that would be presented. Lowell said the gun purchase form asked Hunter Biden only if he was currently an addict, not whether he had used in the past, adding that his client had no “intent to deceive.”

The trial at the federal courthouse in the Bidens’ hometown of Wilmington is playing out as Trump and his congressional allies continue to accuse the Justice Department of a politicized prosecution of the former president.

U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss, a Trump appointee, brought the case against Hunter Biden and was present in the courtroom on Tuesday. Weiss has separately filed federal tax charges against Hunter Biden in California.

The trial is expected to offer a tour of Hunter Biden’s years-long struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.

In one text message that Hines said jurors would see, Hunter Biden wrote that he was behind a minor league baseball stadium in Wilmington “waiting for a dealer named Mookie.” Hines told jurors they would also see photos and bank records that would show that Hunter Biden knew he was an addict when he purchased the gun, which prosecutors must prove to secure a conviction.

Hunter Biden told Noreika at a hearing last year that he has been sober since the middle of 2019.


FBI agent Erika Jensen was called as the first prosecution witness on Tuesday to testify about Hunter Biden’s texts and writings about his drug use.

Hines asked her about Hunter Biden’s 2021 autobiography, “Beautiful Things,” which documented his addiction. Hines played about 30 minutes of Biden’s monotone voice narrating the audiobook version, which included many gratuitous passages about his constant hunt for drugs and what he called his “superpower – finding crack anytime, anywhere.”

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

If convicted on all charges in the Delaware case, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, though defendants generally receive shorter sentences, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Hunter Biden is not required to testify and it is unclear whether he will take the stand. Donald Trump did not testify in his criminal trial. It is risky for criminal defendants to testify because it opens them to cross-examination from prosecutors.

Trump is due to be sentenced on July 11 after being convicted by a jury in state court in New York last Thursday of 34 felony counts of falsifying documents to cover up hush money paid to a porn star to avoid a sex scandal shortly before the 2016 U.S. election.

He has pleaded not guilty in three other pending criminal cases, two related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and one accusing him of unlawfully keeping classified national security documents after leaving office in 2021.

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