Closing arguments begin in Hunter Biden’s historic criminal trial

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Closing arguments began Monday in the federal gun case against Hunter Biden as the first criminal trial of the son of a sitting president nears an end.

“The evidence was personal, it was ugly, it was overwhelming,” prosecutor Leo Wise told the jury, recounting the evidence special counsel David Weiss’s office had laid out since the trial started last week.

Wise also seemed to acknowledge members of the Biden family who’d been showing up in court, including first lady Jill Biden, who was in attendence again Monday.

“People sitting in the gallery are not evidence,” he said, adding while jurors may recognize some attendees from the news or the community, “respectfully, none of that matters.”

“No one is above the law,” he said, adding that the evidence showed that Hunter Biden broke the law when he claimed he wasn’t a drug user when he purchased a gun from a Delaware gun shop in 2018. 

The closings started after Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell rested his case in the morning without calling his client to the stand. Lowell had said on Friday a decision would be made about whether his client would testify over the weekend.

Hunter Biden is charged in federal court in Wilmington with three felony counts tied to possession of a gun while using narcotics, and had pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors contend Hunter Biden lied when he filled out a federal form to buy the gun in October of 2018 and represented that he was not a drug user or addict. Lowell has suggested that his client didn’t “knowingly” mislead anyone because he didn’t consider himself a drug addict or drug user at the time.

Wise pushed back on the claim in his closing.

“He knew he was using drugs, that’s what the evidence shows,” he said, referring to Hunter Biden’s text messages about drug use and large cash withdrawals during that time period.

“We see in these messages him buying drugs, telling other people he was using drugs,” Wise said. He also recounted testimony from Hunter Biden’s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and two former romantic partners about his frequent crack use. One, Zoe Kestan, testified that at some points he was smoking crack every 20 minutes. Wise also pointed to excerpts from Hunter Biden’s memoir where he acknowledged his battles with drug addiction.

Hunter Biden was a “habitual drug user” from 2015 to 2019, Wise said, and he was when he bought the gun.

Lowell told jurors in his closing argument that Hunter Biden’s writing after the fact about being an addict in his book, which was published in 2021, doesn’t mean he knew he was an addict during that period he described from 2015 to 2019.

Prosecutors, he argued, had not met their burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. “With this very high burden, it’s time to end this case,” he said. 

Lowell rested the defense case at around 10:30 a.m. ET.

Prosecutors then called back to the stand FBI special agent Erika Jensen for a brief rebuttal testimony. Jensen was the first witness prosecutors called in the case, and testified about information found on Hunter Biden’s computer, phone and tablet.

She was asked Monday about messages Hunter Biden sent Hallie Biden in the time period around the gun purchase, including one where he indicated he was meeting a drug dealer. Lowell had suggested his client was lying about his location because he didn’t want to see Hallie Biden, the widow of his brother Beau. Jensen testified that geolocation data indicated Hunter Biden was physically in the areas where he told Hallie Biden he was.

Hallie Biden was involved in a romantic relationship with Hunter Biden around the time he bought the gun — years after her husband’s death — and she testified last week about throwing the weapon out after she discovered it in his car.

After Jensen finished testifying, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika read her instructions to the jurors about what they’ll need to consider when they begin deliberating. Closing arguments will begin in the early afternoon after the jurors take a brief lunch break. Prosecutors will present their arguments first.

The trial began on June 3, just days after former President Donald Trump, who’s facing off against President Joe Biden, was convicted in New York state court of falsifying business records.

In addition to Jill Biden, the president’s brother James Biden was in court for closings as well. He’d been mentioned as possible defense witness but was not called to the stand.

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