Criminal Justice

Hunter Biden convicted of lying during gun purchase

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Hunter Biden and wife

Hunter Biden arrives to federal court with his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden on Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

President Biden’s son Hunter was convicted Tuesday of lying on gun-purchasing paperwork and unlawfully possessing a gun.

Hunter Biden had been accused of making two false statements in filling out paperwork to purchase the weapon by claiming he was not addicted to or using illegal drugs. He was also accused of unlawfully possessing that gun for 11 days as a drug user. A jury convicted him following a week-long federal trial in Delaware that included wrenching testimony from current and former family members about his struggles with addiction.

In his first public remarks after his son’s guilty verdict, President Biden did not address it while speaking to a group of gun control advocates. He instead touted some of his administration’s efforts, and he chastised Republicans for not supporting stricter gun laws. After the remarks concluded, he was scheduled to travel to Wilmington to be with his family.

In a phone interview with CNN, Juror No. 10 told the network Tuesday that he did not think Hunter Biden deserved jail time.

“We were not thinking of the sentencing. I really don’t think Hunter belongs in jail,” the juror told the network, which did not show the juror’s face or name out of concern for his safety, but he has been identified as a 68-year-old White man.

The unnamed juror said the 12-person jury was split evenly Monday night but came to a guilty verdict Tuesday morning.

The juror said he believed Hunter Biden should not have testified. “I didn’t want to hear from Hunter. … I didn’t think it would be a good idea for him to testify in his own defense,” he said.

He also said it was “bad mistake” for the defense to put Naomi Biden, Hunter’s eldest daughter, on the stand.

Correspondent Paula Reid asked whether the juror thought the trial was a legitimate use of taxpayer resources. He said he did.

“President Biden never really came into play for me,” the juror said. “His name was only brought up once in the trial. You kind of put that out of your mind.”

The 12-member jury did not discuss the politics surrounding Hunter Biden during their deliberations, juror No. 10 said.

President Biden’s “name was brought up once during trial, when it sunk in a little bit: The sitting president’s son on trial,” said the juror. “That was hard, but you kind of put it out of your mind. … I don’t think it was politicized.”

This juror said some of his peers acknowledged during deliberations that they didn’t initially recognize first lady Jill Biden, who attended most of the trial proceedings, sitting behind Hunter in the courtroom gallery.

“People were saying, ‘I didn’t even know what President Biden’s wife looked like,’” he said, adding that he felt bad that Naomi Biden was called by prosecutors to offer testimony that incriminated her father. “No daughter should ever have to testify against her dad.”

Special counsel David Weiss said that Hunter Biden’s conviction was not about addiction but about an illegal decision he made when he purchased a firearm.

During the six-day trial, prosecutors hammered on brutal and often painful details about Hunter Biden’s drug abuse as they tried to prove that the president’s son lied about his drug use when he filled out a federal form to purchase a firearm in 2018 and then illegally owned that gun as a drug user for 11 days.

“Ultimately this case was not just about addiction—a disease that hunts families across the United States, including Hunter Biden’s family,” Weiss told reporters two hours after the verdict was delivered. “It was these choices and the combination of guns and drugs that made his conduct dangerous.”

Weiss did not speak at the trial or sit at the table with the prosecutors.

He was flanked during his address to the media by the two lead prosecutors in the case, Leo Wise and Derrick Hines. Weiss commended his staff and said they were still working on the federal tax case his team filed against Hunter Biden in Los Angeles. That case is scheduled to go to trial in September.

The 12 jurors in Hunter Biden’s federal gun case began deliberating Monday afternoon following closing arguments by prosecutors and defense lawyers at a trial that focused in searing detail on Biden’s years-long struggle with drug addiction.

“The evidence was personal. It was ugly, and it was overwhelming,” assistant special counsel Leo Wise said in his hour-long closing. “It was also absolutely necessary.”

The photos, texts and testimony detailing Biden’s addiction “may provoke disgust or sympathy, or both, but the defendant wasn’t charged with being an addict,” Wise said. “Lying to buy that gun is a choice. And that—that—is why we’re here.”

Prosecutors charged Biden with three felony counts related to a gun he purchased in October 2018, saying he lied about his drug use on a federal form required to buy the gun and then illegally owned the gun as a drug user for 11 days.

Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell said prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Biden knowingly lied on the form about his drug use. Lowell spent his nearly 90-minute closing argument Monday trying to poke holes in the government’s case, which he compared to a magic trick based on distraction.

“They spent hours, literally hours, recounting Hunter’s terrible journey through alcohol and drug abuse,” Lowell said. “It’s time to end this case.” Lowell argued that the prosecution’s case is fatally flawed because it lacks proof that Biden was using drugs in the time period close to the gun purchase.

Prosecutors argued that the defense mounted by Hunter Biden was little more than a smokescreen of falsehoods designed to disguise the simple truth about who he was in 2018.

“The defendant was a crack addict and a drug user, and he had a gun. That’s a violation of the law,” prosecutor Derek Hines said.

The federal trial in Wilmington, Del., was not televised, and reporters were not permitted to send live updates from the courtroom or the overflow room. Washington Post reporters rotated out of court periodically to post updates as frequently as possible.

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