Hunter Biden Case Goes to the Jury, as Prosecution Urges Jurors To Ignore Crying Ashley Biden, First Lady, and Other Bidens in Attendance

Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, gesticulated wildly during his closing statement, often glaring at prosecutors and playing clips from his audiobook, prompting tears from Ashley Biden.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Hunter Biden, son of President Biden, joined by his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, arrive to the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 10, 2024 at Wilmington, Delaware. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The government’s felony firearms case against Hunter Biden has gone to the jury, after the defense rested and prosecutors urged jurors to “use your common sense” in deciding the fate of the president’s only surviving son. The jury finished the day without a verdict and will resume deliberations on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Leo Wise first took the podium to deliver the prosecution’s closing statement, saying this is a straightforward case that must be an example that “no one is above the law.”

Special Counsel David Weiss has charged Mr. Biden with multiple felonies for lying about his drug use to buy a revolver in 2018. Over the course of the trial, prosecutors have painted a portrait of Mr. Biden, around the time he bought the gun, as an active addict persistently abusing crack cocaine. Mr. Biden’s defense team has sought to sow doubts about their client’s drug use in 2018, suggesting he was briefly sober. They have also argued, to the judge, that based on a 2022 Supreme Court decision, crack smokers and other miscreants have a constitutional right to own guns. That argument is expected to be the basis of Mr. Biden’s appeals if he is convicted.

In his closing arguments, Mr. Wise cautioned the jury not to pay attention to the show of solidarity from Mr. Biden’s family and friends who attended the trial each day, and often wept.  “This,” Mr. Wise said gesturing to the public seating section of the courtroom, “is not evidence.”

Ashley Biden, the daughter of President Biden, and first lady Jill Biden leave the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 10, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

He said that while there may be emotional reactions from Mr. Biden’s friends and family — an apparent shot at Mr. Biden’s half-sister, Ashley Biden, who has been seen crying throughout the trial — those reactions should bear no weight on the facts of the case. Mr. Wise was also likely referring to the high-profile presence of the first lady, who was there on Monday, as she has been for every day of the trial but one, when she attended D-Day ceremonies at Normandy.

“The evidence was personal, it was ugly, and it was overwhelming,” Mr. Wise said, referring to the audiobook clips narrated by Mr. Biden from his 2021 addiction memoir, “Beautiful Things,” that were played for the jury, along with hundreds of incriminating and sometimes salacious text messages and photographs, harvested from Mr. Biden’s now-notorious laptop, which were displayed at trial. “It is no more important or less important because of who the defendant is,” Mr. Wise said, referring to Mr. Biden’s status as the president’s son.

The defense’s contention that Mr. Biden had just gotten out of rehab and was “clean” when he bought a firearm on October 12, 2018, and that he did not “knowingly” lie on a federal form about his drug addiction, are not supported by the evidence, Mr. Wise said. Mr. Biden went to rehab “over and over and over again,” yet he always failed to get sober, Mr. Wise continued. “He was using [crack cocaine] in Malibu just two weeks before the gun purchase.”

Mr. Biden has said he is sober and in recovery, with a sober date of June 1, 2019. This was not disputed at the trial.

Yet the prosecution argued repeatedly that in 2018, when he purchased the gun, Mr. Biden was regularly smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Wise characterized Mr. Biden’s debilitating drug problem as part of a years-long “pattern of abuse” and said “he habitually used controlled substances.”

Attorney Abbe Lowell departs from federal court, June 10, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. AP/Matt Rourke

“He had lost the power of self-control. That’s why he kept going to rehab,” including around the time he bought the gun, Mr. Wise said. 

During Mr. Wise’s statement, Ashley Biden was seen wiping tears from her eyes in court, and later left the room until Mr. Biden’s attorney took the podium for his own closing statement. When she returned to the courtroom about 15 minutes later, she was still in tears. According to several reports in the Daily Mail, including one over the weekend, Ms. Biden herself has been treated for addiction and gone to inpatient rehab several years ago.

“Take the defendant’s own words” as evidence, Mr. Wise instructed, referencing the audiobook’s transparent recounting of Mr. Biden’s drug use. “You bring your common sense into that jury box. Use your common sense. … You don’t have to leave your common sense behind when you enter” the courtroom. 

It was “the defendant’s choices — no one else’s” that have led to this trial, he warned. Mr. Wise stated, to preempt a defense argument, that Mr. Biden was not indicted for being a crack addict. 

James Biden, the brother of President Biden, leaves the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 10, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“Addiction is not a choice — buying a gun is,” he said. 

Mr. Wise’s relatively brief closing statement for the prosecution was met with a passionate, nearly hour-long soliloquy from Mr. Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell. 

Mr. Lowell seemed to improvise the first few lines of his closing statement in response to Mr. Wise. “How did they open their argument? Think about what they just did. They bring up the defendant’s mother, the defendant’s sister, the defendant’s wife,” Mr. Lowell said, looking directly at the women of the Biden family. 

Mr. Lowell’s  arguments largely rested on his contention that the government failed to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Mr. Biden was actively using drugs when he bought the gun. He read from definitions of the terms “material,” meaning relevant to the case, “knowingly,” and “beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

Valerie Biden Owens, the sister of President Biden, leaves the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 10, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Mr. Biden is charged with two counts of lying to the federal government about his drug use in order to buy a gun and one count of possessing a firearm while using controlled substances. If convicted, he could face prison. In a separate case, Mr. Weiss has also charged Mr. Biden with multiple counts of felony tax evasion. That case is scheduled to go to trial at Los Angeles in the fall.

In the Wilmington courtroom, Mr. Lowell argued that the prosecution relied on “conjecture and suspicion” to try to prove their case — a phrase he used repeatedly throughout his lengthy arguments. 

By using excerpts of Mr. Biden’s memoir and the text messages from his iPhone and laptop, the prosecution was creating “an accordion” to condense timelines and make the first son seem more sinister than was true, Mr. Lowell said. 

“I want to address the issue of [drug] abuse, of course,” Mr. Lowell said, prompting Mr. Biden to lean forward in his chair and rest his chin on his clasped hands on the defense table.

Hunter Biden departs from federal court, June 10, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. AP/Matt Rourke

The attorney argued that the first son’s memoir was “not a diary,” as it was written retrospectively and should not be taken as an hour-by-hour or day-by-day retelling of every detail of his life. 

Mr. Lowell also tried to sow doubt among the jury members about the credibility of the women in Mr. Biden’s life who testified at the trial — characterizing them as scorned, unstable, or in cahoots with prosecutors.   

He noted that Kathleen Buhle, Mr. Biden’s ex-wife who had a highly contested divorce from the first son, had been separated from him for nearly two years before he bought the gun. As for Hallie Biden — Beau Biden’s widow who dated Mr. Biden and found the gun in his truck before throwing it away — she was not entirely reliable because she herself was a crack addict at one point and was in a rocky spot with the first son at the time he purchased the firearm. 

Mr. Lowell went especially hard on Mr. Biden’s stripper ex-girlfriend, Zoe Kestan, who took photos of Mr. Biden using crack that were used at trial and testified that she saw him smoking crack “every 20 minutes.”

First lady Jill Biden departs from federal court, June 10, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. AP/Matt Rourke

She has been granted immunity in the case to testify about her drug use. When Mr. Lowell suggested her testimony may have been “rehearsed” with the prosecution, Mr. Wise immediately objected, which was sustained by Judge Maryellen Noreika. 

All of the photos Ms. Kestan took of Mr. Biden using drugs and of drug paraphernalia were from months before Mr. Biden bought the gun. “Photo after photo after photo after photo,” Mr. Lowell said of her camera roll. “Yet, nothing at the time the gun was bought.”

Mr. Lowell also played excerpts from Mr. Biden’s audiobook that were intended to endear him to the jury, because the recordings detailed Mr. Biden’s struggle and his anguish at the time, and how he hoped to get through it. Those excerpts also caused Ashley Biden to cry. 

Mr. Lowell admitted that “kicking crack cocaine is hard,” but that Mr. Biden’s many trips to rehab should not be held up as proof that he wasn’t capable of getting sober or of his lack of commitment to doing so. 

Ex-stripper Zoe Kestan departs from federal court, June 5, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. AP/Matt Rourke
Hallie Biden, daughter in-law of President Biden, departs from the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building after testifying in the trial of Hunter Biden on June 6, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, departs from federal court, June 5 at Wilmington. AP/Matt Slocum

“My colleagues and I … we have held Hunter’s life in our hands. Now, I must give it to you,” Mr. Lowell told the jury, ending his closing statement. 

After Mr. Lowell finished, prosecutor Derek Hines offered a brief rebuttal, saying that the government had undoubtedly proven its case and that “Yale-educated Hunter Biden” knew what he was doing when he lied on the form. Mr. Biden transferred to Yale Law School, considered the hardest law school to get into in the country, after starting at the Law Center of less prestigious Georgetown, where he also conducted his undergraduate studies.

When the jury was dismissed to begin deliberations, first lady Jill Biden put on sunglasses and solemnly walked out of the courtroom, saying goodbye to members of the family. 

Mr. Biden was joined in court by the president’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, and her husband, John Owens; his second and current wife, Melissa Cohen; and the president’s younger brother, Jim Biden, and his wife, Sara Jones Biden. While Mr. Biden’s eldest daughter, Naomi, testified at the trial, his other four children did not attend. Naomi Biden’s attorney husband, Peter Neal, attended some sessions.


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