Hunter Biden Faces High Stakes in Firearm and Drug Possession Trial

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Hunter Biden (left) enters federal court with wife Melissa Cohen-Biden in Wilmington, Delaware. (Matt Slocum/AP)

The courtroom buzzed with anticipation as Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, faces allegations of illegal firearm possession as a drug user. Hunter Biden’s three felony charges threaten a maximum of 25 years in prison, but legal experts argue that he is unlikely to receive the maximum sentence due to his high-profile status.

According to the prosecution, Hunter Biden lied on a federal gun purchase form by claiming he was not on drugs and hence violated title 19 of section 922(G)(3) prohibiting any person “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” from possessing ammunition.

The prosecution’s expert witnesses included an FBI forensic chemist testified about finding white residue on Biden’s gun pouch and a DEA agent, an expert in coded languages, who reviewed Biden’s messages and identified slang phrases for drugs.

Additionally, prosecutors called family members to testify in this case, including Hallie Biden, the former spouse of Beau Biden, Hunter Biden’s brother. 

In her testimony, Hallie Biden, who was romantically linked to the accused from 2016 to 2019, described finding and discarding a gun. She found a revolver, ammunition, drug residue, and paraphernalia while searching his car. Footage shows her throwing the gun away 11 days after its purchase in a Delaware grocery store parking lot. She claimed she did this in a moment of panic. Prosecutors are trying to prove that Biden was an active drug addict at the time of the gun purchase, indicating that he lied on the federal application.

Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle (married 1993-2017), also testified. She claimed that she first learned of his drug use when she found a crack pipe in their home in July of 2015, and he acknowledged smoking crack. She testified that she searched his vehicle for crack cocaine throughout 2015 to 2019 and discovered drugs or drug paraphernalia more than a dozen times.

Zoe Kestan, an exotic dancer at a Manhattan nightclub and Hunter Biden’s romantic partner from winter 2017 to spring 2018, testified that Biden booked a private appointment with her and another dancer. She assumed he was smoking crack cocaine. They stayed at the Soho Grand Hotel for five days, during which Kestan testified that Biden smoked crack every 20 minutes. In the following months, they moved to California, where Biden allegedly continued to use crack frequently. During her testimony, prosecutors presented pictures from Kestan’s phone displaying drug paraphernalia with Biden.

Biden’s lead defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, questioned whether Kestan was aware of his activities during the month of October (the alleged date of possession). Kestan responded that she did not know.

Naomi Biden, Hunter Biden’s oldest daughter, also testified as part of his defense. She presented a vulnerable testimony, revealing her lack of communication with her father due to his struggles with drugs, which led to sporadic contact. In the summer of 2018, she visited Hunter in rehab in California, where she noted that he seemed clearer than he had been since the death of his uncle, Beau, in 2015. They met again in mid-October in New York. Naomi claimed that the meeting gave her hope, but prosecutors argued that the exchanged texts demonstrated Hunter’s uncommunicative behavior and Naomi’s concerns.

The prosecution and defense teams sparred over various matters, including large cash withdrawals from both personal and business bank accounts during the period surrounding the gun purchase. The prosecution claimed that numerous withdrawals indicated a correlation with an increasing addiction to crack and the need for more money to fund the addiction. On the other hand, the defense suggested that various legitimate expenses, such as rent, Airbnb charges, tuition payments for his daughter, alimony, alcohol, and fees for rehab services, accounted for much of the spending. Additionally, Hunter Biden will be involved in a separate criminal case surrounding his alleged failure to pay more than a million dollars in taxes in a timely manner.

Despite being a federal case, pardonable by presidential executive privilege, President Joe Biden stated that he will accept the jury’s outcome and will not issue a pardon if there is a conviction.

Written by Yolanda Xiao

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