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US v. Hunter Biden: Cross-examination of FBI witness to kick off third day of trial

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WILMINGTON, Del. — First son Hunter Biden’s criminal trial kicked off in earnest on Tuesday, beginning with opening statements before hearing from the case’s first witness, a special agent with the FBI. 

Jurors heard testimony and opening statements for more than seven hours on Tuesday, including Biden’s defense team setting the stage that his purchase of a Cobra Colt .38 revolver in October 2018 was a hurried purchase promoted by employees at the gun shop – StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply in Wilmington – who wanted to make a sale. Lowell continued in his opening remarks that the firearm Biden purchased was a “small gun” that was never used in the 11 days Biden had it in his possession. 

“No one is above the law,” argued prosecutors, who told the jury that during the trial they will present evidence showing Biden was a crack cocaine addict who lied on a federal gun form in order to purchase the firearm. 

Biden’s 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things” took center stage Tuesday as prosecutors played excerpts from Biden’s audiobook, which is narrated by Biden, in the courtroom. The excerpts detailed anecdotes such as how he linked up with a female drug dealer he nicknamed “Bicycles” who sold him crack cocaine on the streets of Washington, D.C., how he could serve as a “crack daddy” to dealers due to his spiraling addiction, and how he took cocaine from a stranger in a hotel bathroom in Monte Carlo. 

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Hunter Biden, accompanied by his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, leaves federal court on June 4, 2024, in Wilmington, Delaware. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Though the excerpts from the book contained salacious details, jurors for the case appeared to lose interest at points while the prosecution team played roughly an hour of audiobook excerpts. Jurors were seen yawning, placing their heads in their hands, and even two jurors throughout the day appeared to close their eyes briefly as testimony continued. 

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The court did erupt into chuckles late in the day when presiding Judge Maryellen Noreika told the court that the chair at the witness stand is fixed in its place due to previous witnesses in unrelated cases rocking back and forth before falling off the stand. The judge, as well as the jury and members of the media, laughed at the anecdote before Noreika added that such an instance is “not so funny to witness.” 

Hunter Biden departs the federal court with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden

Hunter Biden, son of President Biden, leaves federal court with his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, on the second day of his trial on criminal gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 4, 2024. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Biden was joined by first lady Jill Biden, his sister, Ashley Biden, and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden. During breaks, Biden was often drawn to his wife like a magnet, holding her hand and briefly hugging her and giving her a kiss.

Jill Biden took her front-row seat in the court for the second time since Monday, flanked by daughter Ashley and daughter-in-law Melissa on either side. Ashley Biden was seen becoming emotional during the trial, with Jill Biden placing her arm around her daughter.

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The first lady directed her line of vision almost exclusively toward the judge and defense team, unless her family members or allies approached her for a quick chat. At least twice, Jill Biden took a small stack of papers from her cream-colored clutch handbag, which were delicately folded in half, to read or jot down a quick note.

First lady Jill Biden arrives at federal court

First lady Jill Biden arrives at federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The first lady left the courtroom after breaking for lunch. She was in the courtroom as excerpts of the audiobook detailed topics such as Biden’s ability to buy crack cocaine in any city he visited.

Lowell also briefly sat with the first lady during a short break in the morning, smiling as the two chatted. Jill Biden seldom stole glances at media members and others sitting behind her in the court.

US V HUNTER BIDEN: OPENING STATEMENTS TO BEGIN IN FIRST SON’S FEDERAL GUN TRIAL AFTER JURY SEATED

Reports surfaced Tuesday that Melissa Cohen lashed out at a former Trump White House aide, Garrett Ziegler, allegedly pointing her finger at him and saying, “You have no right to be here, you Nazi piece of s—.” Fox News Digital did not witness the tense exchange.

Ziegler later confirmed the encounter, telling NBC News, “It’s sad I’ve been sitting here the whole time and haven’t approached anyone.”

Ziegler leads the nonprofit group Marco Polo and was sued by Biden last year for publishing the contents of his infamous laptop.

Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen Biden at federal court

Hunter Biden, left, arrives with his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, at federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Prosecutors in the case allege that in October 2018, Biden visited StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply to purchase the Colt revolver and that he lied about his drug addiction when he filled out a federal form to purchase the gun. Biden’s form was ticked “No” when asked if he is an unlawful user of a firearm or addicted to controlled substances.

He is facing charges of false statement in purchase of a firearm; false statement related to information required to be kept by federal firearms licensed dealer; possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.

HUNTER BIDEN’S CRIMINAL TRIAL ON FEDERAL GUN CHARGES BEGINS WITH JURY SELECTION

Biden pleaded not guilty in the case. 

The total maximum prison time for the three charges could be up to 25 years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. 

Ashley Biden arrives at the federal court on the second day of trial of Hunter Biden

Ashley Biden arrives at federal court on the second day of Hunter Biden’s trial on criminal gun charges in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 4, 2024. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

The trial continues Wednesday with cross-examination of FBI Special Agent Erica Jensen, who testified about dozens of text messages, metadata, photos and short videos found on phones and iCloud accounts belonging to Biden. 

The defense team is laying the groundwork that at the time of the gun purchase in 2018, Biden had just flown from California to the East Coast, which they appeared to argue would be incongruent with his documented behavior of active addiction. Biden detailed in his book that when he was in active addiction, he missed flights out of fear he would not be able to smoke crack on the plane.

In opening statements, Lowell set the framework that Biden’s purchase of a handgun was hurried by gun shop employees seeking to make a sale. Along with the revolver, Biden also purchased a box of ammunition, a speed loader and a BB gun, evidence presented Tuesday showed.

The defense team highlighted to the jury that they are not arguing Biden was a drug addict, with Lowell saying Biden began drinking alcohol as a teenager before graduating to hard drugs as an adult, citing his traumatic childhood, including losing his mother and sister to a car crash in 1972 that also left him seriously injured. Instead, the defense team argued that the issue at hand is whether Biden believed he was in active addiction when he entered the gun shop to make the purchase. 

The prosecution, meanwhile, presented text message evidence and photos and video in an effort to prove to the jury that Biden was an addict before, during and after the purchase, thus working to prove he lied on the federal gun form. 

Prosecutors presented a list of their anticipated witnesses on Tuesday, including: ex-wife Kathleen Buhle; former romantic partner and sister-in-law Hallie Biden; one of Biden’s former romantic partners, Zoe Kestan; gun shop employee Gordon Cleveland; the man who discovered the gun Biden purchased, Edward Banner; and others. 

Buhle, who was married to Biden from 1993 to 2017, could take the stand on Wednesday. The former couple share three daughters. 

Court begins Wednesday at 9 a.m. and is anticipated to conclude for the day at 4:30 p.m.

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