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Hallie Biden testifies she "panicked" when she found gun in Hunter Biden's car

Hallie Biden testifies in Hunter Biden's gun trial
Hallie Biden, widow of Beau, testifies in Hunter Biden's gun trial 02:01

Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter Biden's brother Beau Biden, testified Thursday in Hunter Biden's federal gun trial that she was "panicking" when she found and later discarded the firearm at the center of the case, and she said that it was through Hunter Biden that she also came to use crack cocaine.

Hallie Biden is considered to be the prosecution's star witness, and her appearance on the stand followed Gordon Cleveland, who testified Wednesday that he sold Hunter Biden the firearm. Prosecutors have granted Hallie Biden immunity for her testimony. 

After Hallie Biden, the jury heard testimony from two Delaware police officials and then the man who found the gun in the trash receptacle. At the end of the day Thursday, the defense said it had not yet decided if it would call Hunter Biden to the stand. 

Hallie Biden told the court she found the firearm when she was clearing out his car, which she often searched for drugs and alcohol. Prosecutors introduced parking lot surveillance footage that showed her driving into a grocery store parking lot and throwing the gun away in a dumpster, followed by parking lot video of her that showed her returning to the grocery store to search for the gun. 

"I panicked," Hallie Biden said. "I wanted to get rid of them," she said, in reference to the gun and the bullets.  

William J. Hennessy Jr.

"I didn't want him to hurt himself or the kids to find it and hurt themselves," she said, adding that she considered hiding the gun but she was "afraid one of my children would find it."

After she threw out the gun, she said she didn't tell him, and she said she was going to "pretend" it wasn't her. But Hallie said Hunter then texted her when he noticed the gun was missing. 

Prosecutors also went through texts from the next day, in which Hunter Biden told her that he was "buying" drugs, and one from a day later, when he sent a message that he was "sleeping on a car smoking crack." The messages appear to contradict the defense team's assertions that Hunter Biden was not using drugs in October 2018, when the firearm was purchased. 

Hunter Biden has been charged with three felonies stemming from his alleged purchase of a revolver in October 2018. Two of the charges are related to accusations that he made false statements on a federal gun form about his drug use, certifying he was not a user of or addicted to any controlled substance during a period when prosecutors allege he was addicted to crack cocaine. The other charge is for allegedly owning the gun unlawfully. He was allegedly in possession of the gun for 11 days before Hallie Biden discarded the weapon. 

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

William J. Hennessy Jr.

Hallie Biden testimony

On the stand, Hallie Biden identified Hunter Biden as her brother-in-law, and she testified that they began a gradual relationship after the death of her husband, Beau Biden. She said she confronted him about his drug use after discovering crack cocaine in her Wilmington home, and she acknowledged using crack cocaine herself after being introduced to the drug by Hunter Biden. 

"It was a terrible experience that I went through and I'm embarrassed and ashamed, and I regret that period of my life," she said. 

In contrast to earlier witnesses who said that Hunter Biden did not show a change in demeanor while on drugs, she described him as "agitated" and "high-strung," but she also suggested he could still function at times while on the drug.

Under cross examination by Lowell, Hallie Biden said she had stopped using drugs by August 2018, and she acknowledged that she and Hunter Biden had an "intense" and "complicated" on-again, off-again relationship. She said she had trouble believing him, particularly when he told her where he was, and when she was shown the text again in which he said he was smoking crack or with dealers around the date he bought the gun, she acknowledged she couldn't be sure he was actually where he said he was. 

Hallie Biden arrives at court for Hunter Biden's trial on gun charges
Hallie Biden, left, arrives at federal court, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. Matt Rourke / AP

Hallie Biden had trouble recalling the sequence of events from Oct. 6, when Hunter Biden had returned from Los Angeles, through Oct. 23, the day she allegedly discarded the gun. She said she remembered she had seen him at some point around Oct. 22 or 23, describing him as "exhausted," but she couldn't pin down exactly when that was, relative to when she threw out the gun. The defense attempted to show that Hunter Biden may have stayed at a hotel that night, rather than at her home, where his truck was parked.

Hallie Biden did maintain she did not see him using drugs during this time. 

Earlier testimony and statements in the case

Cleveland, the man who sold Hunter Biden the gun, testified on Wednesday that Hunter Biden did not seem confused by the form. Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell pressed Cleveland on the condition of the form at the center of the case and the rules required for any changes made after submission. 

Lowell said Tuesday in opening statements that many addicts are in "denial" about their drug use, indicating that his client did not intend to lie on the form. Prosecutor Derek Hines, meanwhile, in his opening statement noted that "addiction may not be a choice, but lying and buying a gun is a choice."

Lowell sought earlier Wednesday to cast doubt on the authenticity of personal text messages allegedly taken from Hunter Biden's personal devices. Under questioning from Lowell, FBI special agent Erika Jensen said she could not verify the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop admitted into evidence were not tampered with before law enforcement collected it from a repair shop. 

On Wednesday, Hunter Biden's ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and his former girlfriend Zoe Kestan testified about his drug use. Buhle testified that while they were still married she confronted Hunter Biden after she found a "crack pipe" and said that, although she never saw him use drugs, he confirmed his drug use to her. 

Other charges against Hunter Biden 

Separately, Hunter Biden faces nine federal tax charges in the central district of California in a second indictment brought by Weiss' office where federal prosecutors allege Hunter Biden engaged in a "four-year scheme" to avoid paying at least $1.4 million in federal taxes. References to the tax charges are not admissible in his gun trial in Delaware. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Biden family reaction

President Biden has not attended his son's trial, but he was in Wilmington over the weekend with the family, including Hunter. While in France for events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, President Biden told ABC News' David Muir "yes" that he would accept the outcome of the trial. When asked if that meant he would rule out a pardon, Mr. Biden again said "yes." 

President Biden's sister, Valerie Biden, was present in the courtroom on Thursday, while the president's daughter and Hunter Biden's sister Ashley Biden attended earlier in the week, although she appeared emotional at times before eventually leaving. First lady Jill Biden also attended earlier in the week, but then traveled to France to attend the D-Day commemoration events.

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