Hunter Biden’s drug abuse in focus as prosecutors open firearms trial

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Hunter Biden “crossed the line” when he purchased a firearm while addicted to drugs, he told a Delaware jury Tuesday as a criminal trial began that will delve into the pathos and tragedy of the Biden clan.

The case, brought by a special counsel for President Joe Biden’s justice department, centers on an apparently spontaneous October 2018 purchase of a handgun from a Wilmington dealer by the president’s youngest son while awaiting delivery of a new smartphone.

At issue is whether he violated a federal law by answering a question on a federal background check about whether he was a drug addict or drug user.

Hunter Biden checked “no,” which prosecutors say was a deliberate lie. His attorneys argued that he did not knowingly lie at the time because he was not using drugs at the time.

In legal terms, the trial is likely to examine the definition of what constitutes an addict. Politically, it threatens to distract from the president’s attempts to revitalize his re-election campaign by airing the painful and unpleasant family episodes that followed the death of his eldest son, Beau, in 2015.

Hunter Biden’s trial is inextricably linked to that of Donald Trump, who on Thursday suffered the ignominy of becoming the first former president convicted of a felony after a jury found him guilty of falsifying business records stemming from “maintenance money” payments. her silence” to a former porn actress. Actress.

Hunter Biden’s trial will focus on the events following Beau’s death from cancer, which plunged his brother back into addiction and spawned a doomed romantic relationship with Beau’s widow, Hallie.

Derek Hines, a federal prosecutor, said in his opening argument Tuesday that Hallie herself became addicted to crack cocaine because of Hunter, and that she would testify about the experience.

It was Hallie Biden who discovered the gun in Hunter’s truck 11 days after he bought it, and tried to throw it into a dumpster at a local market, setting in motion a chain of events that led to police involvement.

“We will show you overwhelming evidence that he knew he was a drug user,” Hines said, telling jurors that Hunter Biden was not on trial for drug use, but for lying about it while purchasing a firearm. He “crossed the line when he bought a gun and lied on a federal background check.”

Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, dwelled on the precise language of the background check, which asks whether someone “is” an addict, not whether they “have been.” In Hunter’s opinion, he said, he was not addicted to drugs at the time of the purchase, although he was an alcoholic.

“He wasn’t doing drugs when he bought that gun,” Lowell said. “Times before and times after, but not during.”

Lowell also blamed Hallie Biden for overreacting when she discovered the gun, which he said had been locked in a steel box inside the truck and had never been loaded. “To use a phrase,” Lowell said, “she freaked out.”

The trial in federal court in Delaware, in the president’s home state, follows the collapse last year of a plea deal related to Hunter Biden’s tax affairs. The deal would have spared him prosecution for his felony weapons possession charge, but he broke down at the last minute.

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As opening arguments began, first lady Jill Biden sat stoically in the room behind her stepson, as did Hunter’s new wife, Melissa. The president traveled to Wilmington earlier this week in a show of support.

Along with the jury, Jill and Hunter Biden listened as prosecutors sought to turn Hunter’s 2021 addiction memoir, Beautiful things, Against him. The government played extensive excerpts from the audiobook, in which Hunter recounted his experience smoking crack cocaine for days with strangers and drug dealers.

Prosecutors also vow to present lurid photos and text messages as part of “overwhelming evidence” showing Biden was using drugs during the time in question. A text message sent to Hallie cited Tuesday said, “I’m on Maple Avenue behind Blue Rock Avenue waiting for a merchant named Mookie.”

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