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President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, is convicted of all 3 felonies in federal gun trial

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, is convicted of all 3 felonies in federal gun trial
1 month 2 days 17 hours ago Tuesday, June 11 2024 Jun 11, 2024 June 11, 2024 10:34 AM June 11, 2024 in News
Source: apnews.com
Hunter Biden departs from federal court, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Hunter Biden was convicted Tuesday of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018 when, prosecutors argued, the president's son lied on a mandatory gun-purchase form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Jurors found Hunter Biden guilty of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days. The jury in Wilmington, Delaware, deliberated for about three hours over two days.

Hunter Biden started straight ahead and showed little emotion as the verdict was read. After the verdict, he hugged both of his attorneys and smiled wanly. He kissed his wife, Melissa, and they left the courtroom together.

He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Maryellen Noreika, though first-time offenders do not get anywhere near the maximum, and it's unclear whether she would give him time behind bars.

Now, Hunter Biden and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the chief political rival of President Joe Biden, have been convicted by American jurors in an election year that has been as much about the courtroom as it has been about campaign events and rallies.

Joe Biden has steered clear of the federal courtroom in Delaware where his son was tried and said little about the case, wary of creating an impression of interfering in a criminal matter brought by his own Justice Department. But allies of the Democrat have worried about the toll that the trial — and now the conviction — will take on the 81-year-old, who has long been concerned with his only living son's health and sustained sobriety.

Hunter Biden and Trump have both argued they were victimized by the politics of the moment. But while Trump has continued to falsely claim the verdict was "rigged," Joe Biden has said he would accept the results of the verdict and would not seek to pardon his son.

Hunter Biden's legal troubles aren't over. He faces a trial in September in California on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes and congressional Republicans have signaled they will keep going after him in their stalled impeachment effort into the president. The president has not been accused or charged with any wrongdoing by prosecutors investigating his son.

The prosecution devoted much of the trial to highlighting the seriousness of Hunter Biden's drug problem, through highly personal testimony and embarrassing evidence.

Jurors heard Hunter Biden's ex-wife and a former girlfriend testify about his habitual crack use and their failed efforts to help him get clean. Jurors saw images of the president's son bare-chested and disheveled in a filthy room, and half-naked holding crack pipes. And jurors watched video of his crack cocaine weighed on a scale.

Hunter Biden did not testify but jurors heard his voice when prosecutors played audio excerpts of his 2021 memoir "Beautiful Things," in which he talks about hitting bottom after the death of his brother Beau in 2015, and his descent into drugs before his eventual sobriety.

Prosecutors felt the evidence was necessary to prove that Hunter, 54, was in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and therefore lied when he checked "no" on the form that asked whether he was "an unlawful user of, or addicted to" drugs.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell had argued that Hunter Biden's state of mind was different when he wrote the book than when he bought the gun — when he didn't believe he had an addiction. Lowell pointed out to jurors that some of the questions on the firearms transaction record are in the present tense, such as "are you an unlawful user of or addicted to" drugs.

And Lowell suggested Hunter Biden might have felt he had a drinking problem at the time, but not a drug problem. Alcohol abuse does not preclude a gun purchase.

Hunter Biden had hoped last year to resolve a long-running investigation federal investigation under a deal with prosecutors that would avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. Under the deal, he would have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax offenses and avoid prosecution in the gun case if he stayed out of trouble for two years.

But the deal fell apart after Noreika, who was nominated by Trump, questioned unusual aspects of the proposed agreement, and the lawyers could not resolve the matter.

Attorney General Merrick Garland then appointed top investigator David Weiss, Delaware's U.S. attorney, as a special counsel last August, and a month later Hunter Biden was indicted.

Hunter Biden has said he was charged because the Justice Department bowed to pressure from Republicans who argued the Democratic president's son was getting special treatment.

The reason that law enforcement raised any questions about the revolver is because Hallie Biden, Beau's widow, found it unloaded in Hunter's truck on Oct. 23, 2018, panicked and tossed it into a garbage can at Janssen's Market, where a man inadvertently fished it out of the trash. She testified about the episode in court.

Hallie Biden, who had a romantic relationship with Hunter after Beau died, eventually called the police. Officers retrieved the gun from the man who inadvertently took the gun along with other recyclables from the trash. The case was eventually closed because of lack of cooperation from Hunter Biden, who was considered the victim.

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