Cross-examination of FBI agent continues in Hunter Biden’s gun trial

US first lady Jill Biden has again attended court in Delaware to support her son.

Hunter Biden arrives at federal court (AP)
Hunter Biden arrives at federal court (AP) (Matt Slocum/AP)

Federal prosecutors in Hunter Biden’s gun trial have spent hours showing jurors evidence of his drug problem, seeking to reveal through his own words and writing the depth of his addiction to show it was still going on when, they say, he lied on a form to buy a firearm.

First lady Jill Biden went to court in Wilmington, Delaware, for the third day to support her son, ahead of her trip to France to meet US President Joe Biden, who was in Europe to mark the anniversary of D-Day.

Testimony continued with cross-examination of an FBI agent who was being questioned about the timing of Hunter Biden’s drug use. Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, was also expected to give evidence.

She was married to the president’s son for roughly 20 years. They have three children and divorced in 2016 after his infidelity and drug abuse became too much, according to her memoir, If We Break, about the dissolution of their marriage.

First lady Jill Biden has again supported her son in court (AP)
First lady Jill Biden has again supported her son in court (AP) (Matt Slocum/AP)

Ms Buhle is among several Biden family and friends expected to testify in a trial that has quickly become a highly personal and detailed tour of Hunter Biden’s mistakes and drug use.

The proceedings are unfolding as the 2024 presidential election looms and allies worry about the toll it will take on the US President, who is deeply concerned about the health and sustained sobriety of his only living son.

Prosecutors argue that the testimony is necessary to show Hunter Biden’s state of mind when he bought the gun.

Hunter Biden has been charged with three felonies stemming from the purchase of a gun in October 2018.

He is accused of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

“No-one is allowed to lie on a federal form like that, even Hunter Biden,” prosecutor Derek Hines told jurors on Tuesday.

“He crossed the line when he chose to buy a gun and lied about a federal background check … the defendant’s choice to buy a gun is why we are here.”

Mr Hines added: “When the defendant filled out that form, he knew he was a drug addict,” and prosecutors do not have to prove he was using the day he purchased the firearm.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer argued that his client did not believe he was in the throes of addiction when he stated in the paperwork that he did not have a drug problem.

Hunter Biden is the US leader’s only living son (Pool via AP)
Hunter Biden is the US leader’s only living son (Pool via AP) (Julien de Rosa/AP)

In the short time that he had the gun, he did nothing with it, and the weapon was never even loaded, Abbe Lowell said in his opening statement.

“You will see that he is not guilty,” Mr Lowell said.

He said the form asks whether you “are” a drug user. “It does not say ‘have you ever been,'” and he suggested the president’s son did not think of himself as someone with a drug problem when he purchased the gun.

His state of mind should be considered at the time of the purchase, not later on, when, after he got sober, he wrote a memoir titled Beautiful Things about some of his darkest moments.

The jury heard lengthy audio excerpts from the book, which traces his descent into addiction following the death of his brother, Beau Biden, in 2015 from cancer.

The Delaware trial comes after the collapse of a plea deal with prosecutors that would have resolved the gun case and a separate California tax case and avoided the spectacle of a trial.

Hunter Biden has since pleaded not guilty and has said he is being unfairly targeted by the US justice department, after Republicans slammed the now-defunct plea agreement as a sweetheart deal for the Democratic president’s son.

The case relates to Hunter Biden’s purchase of a firearm (AP)
The case relates to Hunter Biden’s purchase of a firearm (AP) (Matt Rourke/AP)

The 12-person panel heard opening statements on Tuesday and testimony from the FBI agent, Erika Jensen, who read aloud some of Hunter Biden’s personal messages, including some that came from a laptop he left at a Delaware repair shop and never retrieved.

In 2020, the contents made their way to Republicans and were publicly leaked, revealing some highly personal messages about his work and his life. He has since sued over the leaked information.

In one exchange with Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, on the day after he bought the gun, she wrote: “I called you 500 times in past 24 hours.” Hunter replied less than a minute later, informing her that he was “sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th street and Rodney”.

“There’s my truth,” he added in a follow-up text.

But during cross-examination, Ms Jensen testified that Hunter Biden sent fewer messages about seeking drugs in October 2018, around the time when he purchased the gun, than in February 2019, a later period in which Mr Lowell described his client as struggling significantly with addiction.

Mr Lowell also called into question the receipts for a rehab facility, asking whether Ms Jensen knew whether he had been treated for drugs or alcohol. She said she could not.

His sister Ashley Biden, watching from the courtroom, dabbed at her eyes with a tissue and eventually left.

Lawyers said jurors would hear testimony from the US President’s brother James Biden, who is close with Hunter and helped his nephew through rehab stints in the past.

They will also hear how Hallie Biden became addicted to crack during a brief relationship with Hunter.