Hunter Biden opts not to testify at his gun trial as defense rests

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By Jack Queen and Tom Hals

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden opted not to testify on Monday at his criminal trial on charges of hiding his alleged drug use from the government in 2018 to illegally buy a gun, and his legal team rested its case.

Prosecutors then called a witness to review text messages and rebut defense evidence. Later, the sides will make closing arguments, the judge will instruct the jury and the jury will begin deliberations.

The federal government case, the first criminal trial of a U.S. president’s child, last week offered an intimate view of the younger Biden’s years of struggle with alcohol and crack cocaine abuse, which prosecutors say legally precluded him from buying a gun.

Hunter Biden, 54, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges both of lying about his addiction when he filled out a government screening document for the Colt Cobra revolver and of illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days.

The trial in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, follows another historic first – the May 30 criminal conviction of Donald Trump, the first U.S. president to be found guilty of a felony. Trump is the Republican challenger to Joe Biden, a Democrat, in a Nov. 5 presidential election.

Trump and some of his Republican allies in Congress have alleged the case and three other criminal prosecutions are politically motivated attempts to prevent him from regaining power.

Congressional Democrats cite the Hunter Biden prosecution as evidence that Joe Biden is not using the justice system for political or personal ends.

Last week, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, former girlfriend and sister-in-law testified for the prosecution about his drug use, telling jurors that they often found drugs and paraphernalia in his possession and were concerned at times about his spiraling addiction.

Hunter Biden told the judge overseeing the case at a 2023 hearing that he has been sober since 2019.

Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell told jurors during his opening statement that his client did not intend to deceive because he had been clean when he bought the gun and did not consider himself a drug user at the time.

The defense called three witnesses on Friday, including the gun shop owner and an employee and Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi, who said her father appeared to be doing well when she saw him during the weeks before and after he bought the gun.

The sentencing guidelines for the charges against Biden are 15 to 21 months, but legal experts say defendants in cases similar to his often get shorter sentences and are less likely to be incarcerated if they abide by the terms of their pretrial release.

(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Howard Goller and Nick Zieminski)

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