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Jurors in Hunter Biden’s Trial Hear Testimony from Gun Store Clerk

WILMINGTON, Del. — Jurors in Hunter Biden’s criminal trial were presented with the .38 caliber Colt revolver he purchased in October 2018. Additionally, they examined Form 4473, the firearms transaction record pivotal to the case, and heard testimony from a former store clerk who saw the president’s son mark “no” to the question regarding whether he was “an unlawful user of or addicted to” marijuana, stimulants, narcotics, or any other controlled substances.

Federal prosecutors claim that Hunter Biden was struggling with a severe crack addiction when he bought the gun and accuse him of lying on the form. He faces three felony charges: misleading a federally licensed gun dealer, falsely stating he wasn’t a drug user on the application, and illegally possessing the gun for 11 days.

Hunter Biden has entered a not-guilty plea, alleging that the Justice Department is yielding to political pressure from Republicans, targeting him unjustly.

Gordon Cleveland, a former clerk at StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply, testified on Wednesday that he walked Hunter Biden through several options before he chose the $900 gun and signed the form, which includes a warning about the ramifications of providing false information.

“Everything he bought, he ultimately decided on,” Cleveland told the jurors.

So far, the prosecution has focused on emphasizing the severity of his crack addiction, showcasing bare-chested moments with ex-girlfriends, instances of infidelity, and evidence of crack pipes, aiming to prove he was actively using drugs when he marked “no” on the form. They contend this evidence is crucial to establishing his state of mind when he purchased the gun.

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The trial commences after a plea deal collapsed that would have resolved this charge and a separate tax case, avoiding the spectacle of a trial during the 2024 election period. First lady Jill Biden has been attending the trial, while President Joe Biden is in France for the D-Day anniversary. Allies are concerned about the impact on the president, who is deeply concerned about his only living son’s health and sobriety.

Additionally, Hunter Biden’s friends and family are being summoned to testify.

Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife of 20 years, testified that she discovered her husband’s drug use upon finding a crack pipe in an ashtray on their porch on July 3, 2015, the day after their anniversary. Confronted, he admitted to smoking crack.

Buhle mentioned that she already suspected drug use before finding the pipe, as he was expelled from the Navy for testing positive for cocaine.

“I was definitely worried, scared,” she stated. They have three children and divorced in 2016 due to infidelity and drug abuse, as detailed in her memoir, “If We Break.”

Buhle, subpoenaed for the trial, testified for 20 minutes, remaining composed but appearing upset as she recounted frequently searching his car for drugs whenever their children used it.

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“Did you ever see Hunter using drugs?” defense attorney Abbe Lowell asked Buhle.

“No,” she responded.

Prosecutor Leo Wise asked Buhle how she knew Hunter Biden was using drugs.

“He told me,” she replied.

Prosecutors additionally called Zoe Kestan, who testified under immunity about meeting Hunter Biden in December 2017 at a New York strip club where she worked. During a private session, he smoked what she presumed was crack.

“He was incredibly charming and charismatic and friendly, and I felt really safe around him,” she recounted. “I remember after he had smoked it, nothing had changed. He was the same charming person.”

Jurors were presented with instances Kestan saw Hunter Biden use drugs, purchase them, talk about them, or possess drug paraphernalia. Prosecutors asked where he stored his drugs and pipes, and she mentioned he kept them in pouches and other containers, like sunglasses cases.

During cross-examination, Kestan acknowledged not having contact with him in October 2018, when he bought the gun.

Jurors also examined pages from Hunter Biden’s memoir, “Beautiful Things,” written in 2021 after he achieved sobriety. They listened to lengthy audio excerpts depicting his descent into addiction following the 2015 death of his brother, Beau Biden, from cancer. The memoir covers the time when he bought the gun, though it doesn’t mention the weapon specifically.

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Lowell has argued that Hunter Biden’s mindset differed when he wrote the memoir compared to when he bought the gun, suggesting he may have believed he had a drinking problem, not a drug problem at the time. Alcohol abuse does not disqualify someone from buying a gun.

If found guilty, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison, although first-time offenders rarely receive the maximum sentence, and it’s uncertain if the judge would impose a custodial sentence.

He also faces a separate trial in September on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes.

In Congress, Republicans have been pursuing an impeachment inquiry for months, aiming to link President Biden to his son’s business activities but have not yet uncovered direct evidence of wrongdoing by the president. Nonetheless, on Wednesday, House Republicans accused Hunter Biden and President Biden’s brother, James Biden, of making false statements to Congress as part of the inquiry.

The trial coincides with the recent conviction of 34 felonies against Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in New York City. While the two cases are unrelated, their timing highlights the courts’ pivotal role in the 2024 campaign.

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Long reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of Hunter Biden at https://apnews.com/hub/hunter-biden.

News source: abcnews.go.com

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