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Judge in Hunter Biden's gun case makes rulings on evidence ahead of June trial

Hunter Biden's bid to toss charges rejected
Hunter Biden loses bid to dismiss federal gun charges 07:25

In a final hearing before Hunter Biden is set to go on trial in Delaware for gun charges, a judge made some vital rulings that will determine what evidence the jury will see during the proceedings that are set to begin on June 3, clearing the way for some contents from a laptop that he left at a Delaware repair shop as well as evidence about his drug use to be shown. 

Hunter Biden's attorneys have argued that some of the material on the laptop is not authentic, but prosecutors pushed back Thursday, alleging they haven't presented any evidence of that to the court. In 2019, a computer repair shop owner provided the FBI with a laptop that he said had been left by Hunter Biden. He also gave a copy of the laptop data to former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Last September, Hunter Biden sued Giuliani for hacking data from his laptop. Giuliani has shown off the laptop in public, but when the lawsuit was filed, a spokesman for him denied  the drive had been manipulated. The lawsuit has not been resolved.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika handed both sides wins during the pre-trial conference, telling Hunter Biden's attorneys they could raise some issues with the laptop evidence at trial. But she sided with prosecutors about what they need to prove Hunter Biden's drug use when he bought a gun in 2018. They'll need to show he was using or addicted to drugs around the time of the purchase, she said. The defense argued prosecutors should have to prove Hunter Biden was using drugs on the exact day he bought the gun in question. 

Special counsel David Weiss has alleged that Hunter Biden unlawfully purchased and kept a Colt Cobra 388PL revolver for 11 days and made false statements on a form used for gun purchases, claiming he was not an unlawful drug user. President Biden's son has pleaded not guilty to the gun charges, which were filed in Delaware.

The judge also ruled in Hunter Biden's favor on some issues, saying prosecutors are not permitted to mention his tax case in California, his child support case in Arkansas or his discharge from the Navy. Prosecutors are also barred from referring to his "extravagant lifestyle," but they may discuss how he paid for drugs. 

The trial is set to begin June 3 after a federal appeals court rejected Hunter Biden's bid to dismiss the charges. He had argued that the charges are "unprecedented" and "unconstitutional" and violated a diversion agreement reached with federal prosecutors that collapsed in July after a judge refused to sign off on it. 

Friday's hearing became somewhat contentious during discussions about the laptop and when the defense said it noted a discrepancy on the form that Hunter Biden allegedly signed when he bought the gun, attesting that he was not under the influence or addicted to drugs. 

Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell said new information was added to the digital version of the form that was sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after the criminal investigation began. The digital version included information that Hunter Biden had presented both a passport and Delaware vehicle registration as a form of ID, that the defense said was not present on the form he had signed. 

Lowell said the discrepancy calls into question the credibility of the gun store employee and owner, alleging that they did not properly fill out the form and now have a potential bias to cooperate with the government to avoid getting in trouble for altering the form. Lowell said the form was "tampered with" and said he intended to question the workers on what happened. 

Prosecutors argued the discrepancy was not relevant. 

"The crime was complete at the moment he signed that certification," prosecutor Derek Hines said. 

Prosecutors expect up to 12 witnesses to testify, while the defense may call a handful including some experts. The trial is expected to last at least about two weeks. 

Some of the issues raised during Friday's hearing were not decided, particularly about Hunter Biden's potential testimony,  as the judge said she would have to see how the case progressed. His defense attorneys left open the possibility that he could take the stand in his own defense. 

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