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Closing Arguments Begin In Hunter Biden Trial Without Defendant Testifying

A federal prosecutor said on Monday that “no one is above the law” as he urged jurors to convict Joe Biden’s son Hunter on charges that he lied about his drug use when he bought a gun in 2018.

Assisant US attorney Leo Wise began his closing argument soon after the defense rested without calling Hunter Biden to the witness stand. Defendants are not required to testify and are often advised by lawyers not to do so because it opens them up to grilling by prosecutors on cross-examination.

The case has laid bare some of the darkest moments of Hunter Biden’s drug-fueled past.

“The evidence was personal,” Wise told jurors. “It was ugly, and it was overwhelming. It was also absolutely necessary.”

Earlier, Hunter Biden smiled as he chatted with members of his defense team and flashed a thumbs-up to one of his supporters in the gallery after the final witness – an FBI agent called by prosecutors in their rebuttal case.

Several family members – including the first lady, Jill Biden, and the president’s brother James – sat in the first row of the Wilmington, Delaware, courtroom. At one point, Hunter Biden leaned over a railing to whisper in his stepmother’s ear. She has sat through most of the trial, missing only one day last week to attend D-day anniversary events with the president in France.

Last week, Hunter Biden’s defense team called three witnesses – including his daughter Naomi – as it tried to poke holes in the case that has laid bare some of the darkest moments of Hunter’s Biden’s drug-fueled past.

The case goes to the jury for verdict deliberations after Monday’s closing arguments conclude.

Hunter Biden’s trial is the first of two he is facing in the midst of his father’s re-election campaign.

He is charged with three felonies stemming from the October 2018 purchase of a gun he had for about 11 days. Prosecutors say he lied on a mandatory gun-purchase form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty and has accused the justice department of bending to political pressure from Donald Trump and other Republicans to bring the case and separate tax charges after a deal with prosecutors fell apart last year. Hunter Biden has said he has been sober since 2019, but his attorneys have said he did not consider himself an “addict” when he filled out the form.

The case has put spotlight on a turbulent time in Hunter Biden’s life after his brother Beau’s 2015 death. The first lady, Jill Biden, has watched it unfold from the front row of the courtroom. Joe Biden was away in France much of last week, and heads to Europe again this week for the G7 leaders meeting in Italy.

Hunter Biden’s struggles with a substance addiction before getting sober more than five years ago are well documented. But defense lawyers argue there is no evidence Hunter Biden was actually using drugs in the 11 days that he possessed the gun. He had completed a rehab program weeks earlier.

Jurors have heard emotional and tawdry testimony from Hunter Biden’s former romantic partners and read personal text messages. They have seen photos of Hunter Biden holding a crack pipe and partly clothed, and video from his phone of crack cocaine weighed on a scale.

Hunter Biden has not taken the witness stand. But jurors have heard him describe at length his descent into addiction through audio excerpts played in court of his 2021 memoir Beautiful Things. The book, written after he got sober, covers the period he had the gun but does not mention it specifically.

Joe Biden said last week that he would accept the jury’s verdict and has ruled out a pardon for his son. Jill Biden was in court every day last week to support Hunter, except on Thursday when she was with the president in France for D-day anniversary events.

It looked as if Hunter Biden would have avoided prosecution in the gun case altogether, but a deal last summer with prosecutors imploded after US district judge Maryellen Noreika, who was nominated to the bench by Donald Trump, raised concerns about it. Hunter Biden also faces a trial scheduled for September on felony charges alleging he failed to pay at least $1.4m in taxes over four years.

If convicted in the gun case, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, though first-time offenders do not get anywhere near the maximum, and it is unclear whether the judge would give him time behind bars.

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