Prosecutor says ‘no one is above the law’ as he urges jurors to convict Hunter Biden in gun case – American Press

Prosecutor says ‘no one is above the law’ as he urges jurors to convict Hunter Biden in gun case

Published 12:54 Monday, June 10, 2024

A prosecutor said Monday that “no one is above the law” as he urged jurors to convict President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, on charges that he lied about drug use when he bought a gun in 2018.

The evidence is “overwhelming” that Hunter Biden knew he was addicted to crack cocaine when he indicated on a mandatory gun purchase form that he was not an illegal drug user or addict, prosecutor Leo Wise told jurors in his closing argument.

The prosecutor acknowledged the existence of extremely personal evidence that exposed some of the darkest moments of Hunter Biden’s drug-fueled past. They included emotional testimony from his former partners, personal text messages and photos of him holding a crack pipe and partially clothed.

“The evidence was personal. It was ugly and overwhelming,” Wise said. “It was also absolutely necessary.”

Wise pointed to text messages that prosecutors said showed Hunter trying to deal drugs the day before buying the gun and the day after.

“He knew he was taking drugs. That’s what the evidence shows. And he knew he was addicted to drugs. This is clear from the evidence,” the prosecutor said.

Earlier, Hunter Biden smiled as he spoke to members of his defense team and gave a thumbs up to one of his supporters in the gallery after the testimony of the final witness – an FBI agent called by prosecutors to refute the claim.

Several family members – including first lady Jill Biden and the president’s brother James – sat in the front row of the courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware. At one point, Hunter Biden leaned over the railing and whispered in his mother’s ear. She sat out most of the trial, missing only one day last week to attend D-Day anniversary events with the president in France.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to three charges related to the October 2018 gun purchase he had for about 11 days. He accused the Justice Department of bowing to political pressure from former President Donald Trump and other Republicans to pursue a case involving weapons and separate tax charges after breaking an agreement with prosecutors last year.

Last week, Hunter Biden’s lawyers called three witnesses – including his daughter Naomi – in a bid to show that he did not consider himself an “addict” when he filled out the form.

Both Hunter and prosecutors looked at the jury as U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika lectured them on the law. Some jurors took notes with yellow pencils, and many followed the judge’s instructions, turning pages as the judge read aloud.

The case shed light on a tumultuous period in Hunter Biden’s life after the death of his brother Beau in 2015.

Hunter Biden’s struggle with addiction before he got sober more than five years ago is well documented. However, defense lawyers say there is no evidence that he actually used drugs during the 11 days he had the gun. He had completed a rehabilitation program a few weeks earlier.

Jurors heard emotional testimony from Hunter Biden’s former partners and read personal text messages. They saw photos of him holding a crack pipe and partially clothed, as well as a video from his phone showing crack cocaine being weighed on a scale.

His ex-wife and two ex-girlfriends testified before prosecutors about his frequent crack use and failed attempts to help him get clean. One woman who met Hunter Biden in 2017 at the strip club where she worked described how he smoked crack cocaine every 20 minutes or so while she was staying at a hotel with him.

Jurors heard him detail his descent into addiction through audio clips played in court of his 2021 memoir, “Beautiful Things.” The book, written after he got sober, covers the period in which he had a gun but does not specifically mention it.

A key witness for prosecutors was Beau’s widow, Hallie, who had a brief, tempestuous relationship with Hunter after his brother died of brain cancer. On Oct. 23, 2018, she found an unloaded gun in Hunter’s truck, panicked and threw it into a trash bin at a Wilmington grocery store, where a man inadvertently fished it out of the trash.

Hallie told jurors since Hunter returned to Delaware from a trip to California in 2018 until she threw away his gun, she had not seen him use drugs. This period included the day he purchased the gun. But jurors also saw text messages Hunter sent to Hallie in October 2018 in which he said he was waiting for a dealer and smoking crack. The first message was sent the day after the gun was purchased. The second one was shipped the next day.

The defense suggests that Hunter Biden was trying to turn his life around when he purchased the gun, having completed a detox and rehabilitation program in late August 2018.

“It was only after the gun was discarded and the resulting stress … that the government was able to find the same type of evidence of his use (e.g., photos, use of drug jargon) that resulted in his relapse,” defense attorney Abbe Lowell wrote in court documents filed Friday.

On Friday, Naomi Biden took the stand for the defense, telling jurors about visiting her father, who was in a California drug rehabilitation center, in the weeks before purchasing the gun. She told jurors that he seemed “hopeful” and that his condition was improving, and added that she was proud of him.

Joe Biden said last week he would accept the jury’s verdict and ruled out a presidential pardon for his son. After returning from France, the president stayed at his home in Wilmington all day and was expected in Washington that evening for a June 16 concert. He was scheduled to travel to Italy later this week for a conference of the Group of Seven leaders.