Hunter Biden Didn’t ‘Knowingly’ Lie to Buy Gun, Lawyer Says

(Bloomberg) -- Hunter Biden didn’t knowingly lie when he filled out a form to buy a gun in 2018 and checked a box contending that he wasn’t using drugs, his lawyer told a jury on Tuesday for his trial in Delaware federal court.

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“He didn’t knowingly violate the law,” Biden’s lead defense lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said at the start of an unprecedented criminal case against the son of a sitting president. “The charges against Hunter are not minor. They are serious.”

Biden’s defense to an indictment brought by Special Counsel David Weiss appears to hinge on a technical reading of firearm laws and the form he filled out to buy the gun when he answered “no” to a question about whether he was an active unlawful user of any controlled substance.

Lowell said the law prohibits someone who “is” using drugs from buying a gun, and the form asks an applicant if they “are” using drugs.

Lowell said the prosecution won’t be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what Hunter Biden’s state of mind was when he filled out the form in October 2018. He said there’s no doubt that Biden, 54, used drugs in the time before and after the purchase, but didn’t believe that he was lying on the day he bought the gun.

The jury was selected Monday to decide the first of two criminal cases against the only living son of President Joe Biden. Another trial on tax charges is scheduled for September in Los Angeles.

Trump Conviction

The politically charged trial comes after the conviction of former President Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush-money payments to an adult film star before the 2016 election. Both criminal cases are unprecedented and have the potential to add uncertainty to the expected 2024 presidential election faceoff between Trump and the elder Biden.

Most of Tuesday was spent by prosecutors entering evidence, including messages sent from Biden’s phone to drug dealers and personal acquaintances during and around October 2018 to indicate he was either using drugs or buying drugs.

Jurors heard excerpts of Biden’s memoir, “Beautiful Things,” read to them. The book is among the government’s strongest evidence because Biden wrote extensively about his drug use around the time he purchased the weapon.

“No one is above the law,” lead prosecutor Derek Hines said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what your name is.”

The law doesn’t require the prosecution to prove he was using drugs on the day he bought the gun, Hines said.

Evidence entered included receipts for cash withdrawals Biden made totaling more than $150,000 between September and November 2018, or about $50,000 each month. Biden withdrew $5,000 on the day he bought the gun, according to the evidence.

Prosecutors also entered into evidence a laptop that Biden had left at a repair shop. The FBI mined the laptop to obtain about 18,000 pages of data, including photos and videos of Biden’s drug-fueled lifestyle.

“If he had told the truth about his addiction, he would not have been able to buy the gun,” Hines said. “Addiction may not be a choice, but lying when buying a gun is a choice.”

Some of the gun counts carry a prison term as long as 10 years, and another is punishable by as many as five, though judges rarely impose maximum sentences.

(Updates with more from the trail starting in the eighth paragraph.)

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