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Donald Trump has been convicted. Now, Hunter Biden’s gun trial is set to start

WorldDonald Trump has been convicted. Now, Hunter Biden’s gun trial is set to start


Special Counsel David Weiss has indicated he plans to raise painful events from the Biden family’s past related to Hunter’s conduct and events that involve the president. Still, White House officials largely view the trial as a private matter for Biden’s son tied to his personal behaviour from years ago.

US President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden leaving church on Saturday. Photo: AP

The president, who is expected to travel to France during part of the trial, will be monitoring it primarily as a concerned parent who has supported his son’s recovery from addiction, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

There are no plans for the White House to publicly engage with the trial, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss how the president and his staff view the legal matter. But those plans could change, and the person did not rule out the possibility of the president reacting to developments in real time.

While the possibility exists for a last-minute plea deal between the two sides, Hunter Biden’s legal team is prepared to argue the charges are unconstitutional and violate the Second Amendment, as well as point out flaws in the government’s evidence.

Dick Harpootlian, a Biden ally and former South Carolina prosecutor, said jurors in Biden’s home state might wonder why prosecutors brought the criminal case against him now that he’s shaken his drug addiction.

“It only takes one for a hung jury, and I can definitely see one or more jurors questioning the propriety of bringing this case,” said Harpootlian, who now serves as a state senator.

Biden’s trial represents another highly politicised spectacle following the former President Trump’s criminal trial in New York, which ended Thursday with his conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up an affair with a porn star during the 2016 race.

US President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden cycling on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Hunter Biden also has been charged by Weiss in Los Angeles for nine federal tax violations and is scheduled to go on trial in that case in September.

The gun trial is expected to be short but dramatic, with prosecutors airing details about Hunter Biden’s drug-laden years that include excerpts from a book he wrote about it, Beautiful Things: A Memoir.

“His book is replete with admissions that establish he knew he was an addict and knew he was using crack cocaine throughout 2018, including in October 2018 when he purchased and possessed the gun,” prosecutors wrote in a May 20 trial brief.

Fordham University law professor Cheryl Bader, an ex-assistant US attorney who now runs the school’s criminal-law clinic, said Biden’s chances of winning an acquittal are slim given his acknowledgement in his memoir.

Biden has been open about his struggles with alcohol and drugs but said he has remained sober since mid-2019.

Federal prosecutors “only bring cases that they are confident they can win, and they are known for dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s,” Bader said.

Two of the gun counts carry maximum prison time of 10 years; another is punishable by as much as five years. However, judges rarely impose maximum sentences.

Biden’s lawyers plan to challenge the government’s charge that he bought the gun while a drug addict as constitutionally vague. They are set to argue that he wasn’t using drugs when he bought the gun. They also plan to contend that the seller didn’t comply with legal requirements in the gun sale and documentation.

“Intoxication from too much alcohol or using drugs, legal or illegal, may make it too dangerous for people to drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or possess a firearm one day, but they may be perfectly sober enough to do all those things the next day,” according to a May 23 trial brief by Biden’s lawyers.

Weiss was nominated by Trump to serve as the US attorney for Delaware and kept on by Biden. He was appointed as a special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2023 to manage the cases against Hunter Biden.

Biden and Weiss had agreed to a plea deal last year to resolve both allegations, but the agreement fell apart under questioning by the federal judge overseeing the case. Biden’s lawyers and supporters have argued that Weiss then bowed to political pressure by Trump and conservatives in bringing the charges.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse



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