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Hunter Biden’s federal firearms case opens

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Lawyers began giving opening statements Tuesday in the federal gun case against Hunter, President Joe Biden’s son in a trial that is expected to feature testimony from his exes and very personal details about his struggle with addiction.

Hunter Biden was charged with three felonies stemming from purchasing a gun in 2018 while he was, according to his memoir, in the grip of a crack addiction. He was charged with lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false statement on the application that he was not a drug user, and illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days.

Prosecutors told the jury that Hunter Biden was clearly a drug addict when he bought the gun and that he told his brother’s widow he was waiting for a drug dealer just days after lying on the form .

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

The proceedings come after a failed deal with prosecutors that would have avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty and argued he was unfairly targeted by the Department of Justice. Justice after Republicans decried the now-defunct plea deal as special treatment for the Democratic president’s son.

First lady Jill Biden and her sister Ashley Biden joined him again in the courtroom as the overtures began.

The trial comes just days after Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was convicted of 34 crimes At New York. The two criminal cases are unrelated, but their proximity underscores the extent to which the courts have taken center stage in the 2024 campaign.

Jury selection moved to Monday in the president’s home statewhere Hunter Biden grew up and where the family runs deep. Joe Biden has passed 36 years as a senator from Delaware, traveling daily to Washington.

People know how Biden’s two young sons, Hunter and Beau, were injured in the car crash that killed his wife and infant daughter in the early 1970s. And Beau Biden was the former attorney general of the ‘State before he died at age 46 of cancer.

Some potential jurors were dismissed because they knew the family personally, others because they had both positive and negative political views about the Bidens and could not be impartial. Yet it only took a day to find the jury of six men and six women, plus four female alternates, who will decide the case.

Much of the questioning focused on drug use, addiction and gun ownership, with attorneys seeking to test prospective jurors’ knowledge of the case. They sidelined those who had strong views on drug use or who would like to tighten gun regulations.

The panel of 12 people was chosen from around 65 people. Their names have not been made public.

Hunter Biden will also be tried in California in September for non-payment of $1.4 million in taxes. Both cases should have been resolved thanks to the agreement with prosecutors last July, the culmination of a years-long investigation into his business dealings.

But Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, questioned some unusual aspects of the deal, which included a proposed guilty plea for minor offenses to resolve tax crimes and an agreement to diversion on the gun charge, which meant as long as if he stayed out of trouble for two years, the case would be dismissed.

The lawyers failed to find a solution to his questions and the deal collapsed. Attorney General Merrick Garland then named the lead investigator, a former Delaware U.S. attorney, David Weiss, as special counsel in August, and a month later Hunter Biden was indicted.

The opening statements come as Garland faces members of the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee in Washington, which is investigating the president and his family and of which the chairman has been at the forefront of the a stalled impeachment investigation arising from Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

The Delaware trial is not about Hunter Biden’s foreign affairs, although the proceedings are likely to bring up dark, embarrassing and painful memories.

The president’s allies are worried the toll that the trial could take on the elder Biden, who has long worried about her only living son and his sobriety and now must watch her son’s past mistakes be publicly scrutinized. And the president must do it as he campaigns amid anemic polling and prepares to an upcoming presidential debate with Trump.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked aboard Air Force One Monday evening whether the affair could affect the president’s ability to do his job, and she replied: “Absolutely not “.

“He always puts the American people first and is able to do his job,” said Jean-Pierre, who declined to say whether Biden received updates on the trial throughout the day or whether he had spoken to his son after the procedure was completed.

Biden was scheduled to travel to France on Tuesday evening and will be away the rest of the week. The first lady is expected to join him later this week.

The case against Hunter Biden dates back to a period when, by his own public admission, he was addicted to crack cocaine. His descent followed the death of his brother in 2015 of cancer.

If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison, although first-time offenders fall far short of the maximum sentence, and it is unclear whether the judge would give him prison time.

Trump is ready to be sentenced on July 11 by Judge Juan M. Mercan, who raised the specter of prison during the trial after the former president racked up thousands of dollars in fines for violating a hush order.


Long reported in Washington. Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer in Washington and Fatima Hussein aboard Air Force One contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coverage of Hunter Biden at

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