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Hunter Biden jury sees evidence of addiction, hears ‘no one is above the law’

WILMINGTON: Prosecutors in the historic criminal trial of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, told jurors Tuesday that overwhelming evidence showed the younger Biden lied to cover up his drug addiction so he could illegally buy a gun while the defense argued that he did not intend to deceive.

Jurors in federal court in Delaware heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense in the first trial of the child of a sitting US president before witness testimony began.

Prosecutors showed jurors text messages in which Hunter Biden arranged drug deals and discussed smoking crack cocaine, including in the days after he bought a Colt Cobra revolver in October 2018. They also played excerpts from an audio version of his autobiography, in which he described his “bloodcurdling” drive to find crack at the time he bought the gun.

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

“Addiction is not a crime. It’s a lie,” Hines said.

Hunter Biden, 54, pleaded not guilty to three counts of failure to disclose drug use when he bought the gun and unlawful possession of the weapon for 11 days.

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

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell told jurors in his opening statement that no one disputes that Hunter Biden was a drug addict before and after he bought the gun. But Lowell told jurors that Hunter Biden’s gun purchase form only asked if he was currently addicted, not if he had used guns in the past, adding 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 a politicized prosecution of the former president.

U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss, a Trump appointee, filed charges 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 offers a glimpse into Hunter Biden’s years-long struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. Hunter Biden told Noreika at a hearing last year that he has been sober since mid-2019.

Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of all charges, although defendants typically receive shorter sentences, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

‘SEARCHING A CRACK ANYTIME’

FBI agent Erika Jensen has been called as the prosecution’s first witness to testify about Hunter Biden’s texts, bank documents and records of his drug use.

This included a text the day after Hunter Biden bought the gun in which he said he was “waiting for a dealer named Mookie” and another text the next day in which he said he was sleeping on top of a car smoking 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 detailing his constant drug hunt and what he called his “superpower – finding crack anytime, anywhere.”

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

Lowell said Hunter Biden didn’t have a credit card at the time and spent thousands of dollars to get drugs.

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

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

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 after a New York state court jury convicted him last Thursday of 34 counts of falsifying documents to cover up hush money paid to a porn star to avoid a sex scandal ahead of the 2016 U.S. elections.

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

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