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Hunter Biden criminal trial jury told ‘no one is above the law’

HUNTER Biden’s criminal trial on gun charges kicked off with a government lawyer telling jurors that President Joe Biden’s son was being prosecuted for lying on a form he filled out to purchase a handgun and was not above the law.

Derek Hines, a Department of Justice lawyer, began his opening arguments by walking jurors through the events of October 2018, when Hunter Biden purchased the gun but allegedly lied on his background check about his drug use.

“It was illegal because he was a user of crack and a drug addict,” Hines told the jury. “No one is above the law.”

Hunter Biden, 54, pleaded not guilty to the three felony charges accusing him of failing to disclose his use of illegal drugs when he bought a Colt Cobra .38-caliber revolver and of illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days in October 2018.

“Hunter bought a small handgun. It was never loaded. He never used it. It was thrown out 11 days later by the person he was dating at the time. Just 11 days later,” Abbe Lowell, Biden’s attorney, told jurors. “For this, three felonies.”

The trial at the federal courthouse in the Bidens’ hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, gets underway just days after Republican Donald Trump, who is challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election, became the first former president found guilty of a crime.

READ:  Hunter Biden found guilty of lying about drug use to buy gun

Hunter Biden has discussed publicly and in his 2021 autobiography, “Beautiful Things,” his years-long crack cocaine use and addiction.

He told U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika at a hearing last year that he has been sober since the middle of 2019.

U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss is expected to call FBI agent Erika Jensen to testify about Hunter Biden’s messages discussing his drug use.

“I was sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th Street and Rodney,” was one of the messages prosecutors disclosed in a court filing. In another, Hunter Biden said he was behind a minor league baseball stadium in Wilmington “waiting for a dealer named Mookie.”

Prosecutors said they may call as a witness his former wife, Kathleen Buhle, who accused Hunter Biden in their 2017 divorce proceedings of squandering money on drugs, alcohol and prostitutes.

Twelve jurors and four alternates were sworn in on Monday, many describing their own experiences with family members and friends battling substance abuse. All 12 jurors must agree Hunter Biden is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to convict.

Weiss, a Trump appointee, has hit Hunter Biden with federal tax charges separately in California.

The trial comes days after Trump was convicted by a jury in state court in New York of 34 felony counts of falsifying documents to cover up hush money paid to a porn star to avoid a sex scandal shortly before the 2016 U.S. election that put him in the White House.

READ:  Trump faces criminal trial, a historic first for a former president

Hunter Biden’s trial gives Republicans a chance to shift attention away from Trump’s legal troubles.

Trump is due to be sentenced in New York on July 11. He has pleaded not guilty in three other pending criminal cases, two related to his efforts to overturn his loss in 2020 to Biden and one charging that he unlawfully kept classified national security documents after leaving office in January 2021.

If convicted on all charges in the Delaware case, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, though defendants generally receive shorter sentences, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Noreika, also a Trump appointee, entered multiple orders over the weekend that were requested by prosecutors and that appeared to undercut Biden’s legal strategy.

The judge said Biden’s legal team could not introduce expert testimony that people suffering from substance abuse disorder might not consider themselves an addict.

By TOM HALS and JACK QUEEN

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