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Hunter Biden trial: Defense expected to call more witnesses

WILMINGTON, Del. (NewsNation) — After a week of emotional testimony, the federal gun trial of President Joe Biden’s son enters its final phase starting Monday. The defense is set to decide whether to call at least one more witness, potentially including Hunter Biden.

On Friday, the defense didn’t rule out calling one more witness, but it was unclear who that could be. Hunter Biden’s lawyers had previously said they planned to call the president’s brother, James Biden, as a witness.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors will call any rebuttal witnesses before the case goes to closing arguments, and then to the jury.

Hunter Biden faces three felonies stemming from a 2018 firearm purchase when he was, according to his memoir, in the throes of a crack addiction.

This is the first of two trials Hunter Biden faces amid his father’s reelection campaign. Biden said last week that he would accept the jury’s verdict and has ruled out a pardon for his son.

Defense: No proof Hunter Biden used drugs while having gun

Hunter Biden bought a gun in October 2018, months before his father announced his bid for the president.

Prosecutors argue Hunter Biden lied when he swore he wasn’t a drug user on a form he filled out at the gun shop. He had the gun for about 11 days before it was thrown into a trash can.

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.

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The case has put a spotlight on a turbulent time in Hunter Biden’s life after his brother Beau Biden’s death in 2015.

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

Who’s testified so far?

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

His ex-wife and two onetime girlfriends testified for prosecutors about his habitual crack use and their failed efforts to help him get clean. One woman, who met Hunter Biden in 2017 at a strip club where she worked, described him smoking crack every 20 minutes or so while she stayed with him at a hotel.

Hunter Biden hasn’t taken the witness stand, and it’s unclear if he will. 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 doesn’t mention it specifically.

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A key witness for prosecutors is Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie, who had a brief relationship with Hunter after his brother died of brain cancer. She found the unloaded gun in Hunter Biden’s truck Oct. 23, 2018, panicked and tossed it into a garbage can at a grocery store in Wilmington, where a man inadvertently fished it out of the trash.

Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi Biden took the stand for the defense Friday, telling jurors about visiting her father while he was at a California rehab center weeks before he bought the gun. She told jurors that he had seemed “hopeful” and to be improving, and she told him she was proud of him. As she was dismissed from the stand, she paused to hug her dad before leaving the courtroom.

Hunter Biden charges

Hunter Biden faces three felonies stemming from a 2018 firearm purchase when he was, according to his memoir, in the throes of a crack addiction. He’s pleaded not guilty and has argued he’s being unfairly targeted by the Justice Department after Republicans decried a now-defunct plea deal as special treatment for the Democratic president’s son.

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’s unclear whether the judge would give him time behind bars.

The trial comes after Donald Trump, Republicans’ presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, was convicted of 34 felonies in New York City. A jury found the former president guilty of a scheme to cover up a hush money payment to a porn actor to fend off damage to his 2016 presidential campaign. The two criminal cases are unrelated, but their proximity underscores how the criminal courtroom has taken center stage during the 2024 campaign.

Hunter Biden is also facing a separate trial in California in September on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes. Both cases were to have been resolved through a now-defunct plea deal with prosecutors last July, the culmination of a yearslong investigation into his business dealings.

NewsNation digital producer Devan Markham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.