Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden, was convicted on Tuesday of three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018. Prosecutors argued that Hunter lied on a mandatory gun-purchase form by denying illegal drug use.

This is the first time that a child of a sitting president is convicted, coming shortly after another historic first: the trial of a former US president, as Donald Trump went to court over a case centered on hush money he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels . Trump was convicted in the case on May 30.

What are the charges against Hunter Biden?

Hunter Biden, aged 54, faces a three-count indictment related to his false statements about drug use in order to purchase a gun in 2018. Filed on September 14, 2023, the charges were brought by US Special Counsel David Weiss after a plea deal. between Hunter and Weiss collapsed in July 2023. Originally, the deal aimed to dismiss gun charges in exchange for Hunter pleading guilty to two tax charges, allowing him to avoid prison.

In October 2018, Hunter bought a Colt Cobra .38 special revolver from StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply in Wilmington, Delaware. While Delaware laws permit gun ownership, federal regulations mandate completion of an ATF Form 4473, including questions about drug use. Allegedly, Hunter answered “No” to the question regarding drug addiction despite being addicted to crack cocaine at the time.

The three counts against him are:

1. Accusations that Hunter knowingly provided false information about his drug use to the gun dealer, violating several sections of Title 18 of the US Code.
2. Charges related to Hunter’s alleged false statements to the gun dealer.
3. Accusations of unlawfully possessing the gun while being a drug user, a violation of federal law, specifically Title 18 of the US Code.

Key Players

Hunter Biden: The defendant, son of President Joe Biden
David Weiss: US Special Counsel leading the investigation and prosecution
Maryellen Noreika: District Judge presiding over the case
Hallie Biden: Key witness, Hunter’s former sister-in-law and romantic partner
Ronald Palimere: Key witness, Delaware gun shop owner

Thirteen witnesses provided testimony during the trial, with Hunter Biden opting not to testify himself.

List of individuals who took the stand during the proceedings:

1. FBI special agent Erika Jensen (she testified initially and was recalled by the prosecution during their rebuttal)
2. Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden’s former spouse
3. Zoe Kestan, a former girlfriend of Hunter Biden
4. Gordon Cleveland, an employee at the gun store where Hunter Biden purchased the firearm in question
5. Hallie Biden, the former girlfriend of Hunter Biden and widow of his late brother, Beau
6. Joshua Marley, a police officer from Delaware
7. Millard Greer, a former state trooper from Delaware
8. Edward Banner, the individual who discovered Hunter Biden’s gun in a trash can outside a grocery store
9. Jason Brewer, a forensic chemist from the FBI
10. Joshua Romig, a special agent from the DEA
11. Jason Turner, an employee at the gun store
12. Ronald Palimere, the owner of the gun store
13. Naomi Biden, the daughter of Hunter Biden

Trial details

The trial began with jury selection on June 3, 2024, at the J Caleb Boggs Federal Building in Wilmington, Delaware.

Defense and Prosecution Arguments

The prosecution argued that Hunter Biden knowingly made false statements to a gun dealer and possessed the gun while being an unlawful drug user, violating federal law. The defense has claimed that the prosecution’s case relies on insinuations and conjecture, and that the jury cannot convict based on these alone.

Prosecution’s arguments:

1. Hunter Biden’s Knowledge: Prosecutor Leo Wise emphasized that evidence presented in the trial was crucial in demonstrating Hunter Biden’s awareness of his drug addiction at the time of purchasing the gun. He argued that the prosecution did not need to prove specific drug use on the day of the purchase to establish their case.

2. Evidence of Drug Use: Wise highlighted Hunter Biden’s communication with drug dealers and testimony from former partners, indicating habitual drug use over several years. He asserted that the evidence pointed to Hunter Biden’s consistent illegal drug consumption.

3. Unlawful Possession: Regarding the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, Wise emphasized that there was no evidence suggesting anyone other than Hunter Biden possessed the gun.

Defense’s arguments:

1. High Bar for Prosecution: Defense attorney Abbe Lowell argued that the prosecution had to meet an extremely high standard to prove Hunter Biden knowingly violated the law. He contended that when Hunter Biden marked the federal form, he was not deliberately providing false information.

2. Lack of Concrete Evidence: Lowell pointed out the absence of concrete proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Hunter Biden was actively using drugs at the time of the gun purchase. He argued that the prosecution’s case relied on speculation rather than solid evidence.

3. Doubts Raised: Lowell raised doubts about witness testimonies, particularly mentioning inconsistencies in Hallie Biden’s recollection and potential bias in the prosecution’s case. He suggested that the cocaine residue found with the gun could have originated from another source.

4. Hunter Biden’s Intent: Lowell highlighted Hunter Biden’s actions after learning about the disposed gun, indicating a coherent state of mind and a concern for public safety, contrary to the portrayal of someone impaired by drug use.

Key Takeaways from Hunter Biden’s Trial:

1. Jury Selection:

– Jury of 12 plus four alternates selected from a pool of over 60 individuals.
– Potential jurors questioned about substance abuse experiences, reflecting the role of drug addiction in the case.

2. Prosecution’s Use of Evidence:

– Excerpts from Hunter Biden’s memoir, detailing his addiction to crack cocaine, presented to the jury.
– Prosecutors highlighted Biden’s descent into addiction to argue that he knowingly lied on gun purchase forms.

3. Witness Testimonies:

– Hunter Biden’s ex-wife and former girlfriends testified about his drug use and addiction.
– Testimonies depicted Hunter Biden’s drug use habits and struggles with addiction.

4. Testimony of Hallie Biden:

– Hallie Biden, Hunter Biden’s sister-in-law and former girlfriend, testified about finding the gun and disposing of it.
– She recounted her own experience with drug use, including Hunter Biden’s introduction of crack cocaine in 2018.

President Biden reaction

In his latest statement following Hunter’s conviction on federal gun charges, President Joe Biden reiterated his role as a supportive father amid his son’s struggles.

“As I said last week, I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today. So many families who have loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery,” Biden said.

Biden affirmed his acceptance of the trial outcome and commitment to respecting the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal. Additionally, he reiterated his previous stance of not pardoning his son, reaffirming their unwavering support for Hunter and the entire family.