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Prosecution rests in Hunter Biden gun trial

Federal prosecutors on Friday rested their case against Hunter Biden after testimony from Biden’s exes, government experts, and others involved with the purchase and recovery of the gun which the first son allegedly lied to obtain.

Special counsel David Weiss’s prosecutors, Derek Hines and Leo Wise, are pursuing three criminal gun charges against Hunter for allegedly lying about his addiction to crack cocaine on a gun-purchase background-check form and allegedly possessing the gun while addicted to drugs. Hunter pleaded not guilty and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

An FBI chemist with 20 years of experience testified for the prosecution on Friday, explaining that the pouch Hunter stored his gun in had tested positive for cocaine. Hallie Biden discarded the gun inside the pouch in a grocery store parking lot garbage can, explaining during her testimony that she had found the gun alongside crack remnants while cleaning Hunter’s car. The gun, a Colt Cobra revolver, was later picked up by an elderly man who was collecting cans. The gun was retrieved from the man’s home by police after Hallie Biden reported what she had done.

A Drug Enforcement Administration agent was also brought in on Friday to dissect the coded language in Biden’s text messages to drug dealers, confirming that various slang terms were commonly used to refer to crack. The agent, who has 25 years of experience working drug cases, also analyzed images and videos of drug paraphernalia collected from Hunter’s laptop, confirming that they showed crack pipes and other materials used in the crack production and consumption process.

The DEA agent observed that Hunter’s text messages related to purchasing cocaine in October 2018 were so simple he did not need to decode them. Prosecutors have repeatedly shared Biden’s texts from that time as they attempt to prove he was addicted to drugs around the time of the gun purchase.

Hines kicked off the prosecution’s case on Tuesday by focusing in his opening statement on the “overwhelming evidence” that Hunter was actively addicted to crack around the time he bought the revolver from StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply in Wilmington in October 2018.

Then, Hines carried out a meticulous questioning of FBI special agent Erica Jensen, a criminal investigator with two decades of experience who was assigned to the Biden case last fall. Hines played lengthy audio excerpts from Biden’s haunting memoir, Beautiful Things, and pored through texts and bank records with Jensen.

Afterward, Wise guided Hunter Biden’s three exes through their experiences with Biden’s drug addiction. Ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and ex-girlfriends Zoe Kestan and Hallie Biden gave harrowing testimony of how Biden’s drug addiction hurt them.

Kestan’s testimony was particularly detailed and polished, in contrast to the vagueness of Buhle and Hallie Biden. Unlike Kestan, Buhle and Hallie sometimes had difficulty talking about Hunter’s crack addiction, and the two appeared traumatized by their experience to this day.

Following the women, gun store owner Gordon Cleveland took the stand to describe his experience selling Hunter the revolver. Before Hunter filled out the form, Cleveland recalled instructing him to be truthful and take his time. Ultimately, Hunter picked out the Colt Cobra as well as ammunition and a speedloader, which he paid for in cash, Cleveland emphasized.

All of the prosecution’s witnesses allowed Hines and Wise to establish Biden’s crack-cocaine addiction during the years leading up to and the months following the gun sale.

Abbe Lowell, Biden’s defense attorney, is attempting to show otherwise, and performed lengthy cross examinations of the most important witnesses. At times, Lowell appeared to be conducting fishing expeditions with the hopes of getting minor concessions on details from the witness testimony and the prosecution’s trove of evidence.

In particular, Lowell struggled to gain ground on Kestan and Cleveland.

After the prosecution rested, Lowell announced that he would be filing an acquittal motion based on the claim that Hunter’s purchase was protected by the Second Amendment. Judge Maryellen Noreika appeared skeptical that the motion would be convincing.

Should the motion be rejected, arguments about the scope of the Second Amendment, and whether it protects the right of drug users to purchase and possess firearms, are expected to feature prominently in Lowell’s coming defense.

President Joe Biden said he was “proud” of his son at the start of the trial. On Thursday, the president said he would respect the outcome of the trial and not pardon Hunter Biden if he were convicted.

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