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Hunter Biden’s daughter testifies about visiting him while he was at California rehab facility

Hunter Biden departs from federal court with his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden.
Hunter Biden departs from federal court with his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, on Friday in Wilmington, Del.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
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Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi testified Friday in his federal gun trial about visiting her father at a California rehab center and said he seemed to be improving in the weeks before he bought a revolver in 2018.

“I hadn’t seen my dad in a long time, and I knew he was in a rehab facility there. He reached out,” she told jurors softly.

As she was dismissed from the stand, she paused to hug her dad before leaving the courtroom.

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The defense begancalling witnesses shortly after federal prosecutors wrapped up their case. Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell began by calling a gun store clerk who was there when Biden bought the gun, raising questions about what he saw as inconsistencies on the form.

He also questioned the owner of the shop, who allowed the sale to go through using Biden’s passport, though it did not include an address as required.

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Then he called Naomi Biden. In October 2018, the month her father bought the gun, she traveled from Washington to New York in his truck to move her boy-friend’s belongings. Hunter Biden drove a Cadillac owned by his father, President Biden, to New York later that month to retrieve his truck, leaving the Cadillac with Naomi. She told jurors she didn’t see any drug paraphernalia or evidence of drug use.

“He seemed great,” she said. “He seemed hopeful.”

But prosecutors showed her texts that showed he didn’t respond to her for hours. At 2 a.m., her father texted her asking where the keys to his truck were and whether her boyfriend could meet and swap vehicles.

“Right now?” she responded.

“Do you know what your father was doing at 2 o’clock in the morning and why he was asking you for the car then?” prosecutor Leo Wise asked.

“No,” she said.

Wise read out to her a text message from the time, in which she responded: “I’m really sorry dad I can’t take this.”

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When court broke for lunch, and as Hunter Biden prepared to leave, he motioned to the first row that was full of his family members, including First Lady Jill Biden, who traveled back from France for the proceedings. She took her son’s hand and held it until they got to the door.

Jurors were sent home for the afternoon after the defense had no more witnesses, and Lowell said he was weighing whom else to call, though previously he said the president’s brother James Biden would take the stand, and he was in court. The trial will resume Monday.

The week’s proceedings have been largely dedicated to highlighting the seriousness of Hunter Biden’s drug problem through highly personal testimony, in an effort by prosecutors to prove that he lied on a mandatory gun-purchase form when he said he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Jurors heard earlier in the week from Biden’s ex-wife and a former girlfriend who testified about his habitual crack use and their failed efforts to help him get clean.

They saw images of him bare-chested and disheveled in a filthy room, and half-naked holding crack pipes. And they watched video of his crack cocaine weighed on a scale.

Prosecutors say the evidence is necessary to prove that Biden, 54, was in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and therefore lied when he checked “no” on the form that asked whether he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to” drugs.

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Lowell has argued that Biden did not think of himself as an “addict” when he bought the gun and did not intend to deceive anyone.

Meanwhile, President Biden worked to walk the line between president and father, telling ABC in an interview that he would accept the jury’s verdict and ruling out a pardon for his son.

Earlier this week, he issued a statement saying: “I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today.”

Biden is in France this week for D-day anniversary events. Jill Biden, who attended court most of the week, flew back from France on Thursday to be at the trial again Friday. She will return to France for a state dinner.

Hunter Biden has been charged with three felonies: lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

He has pleaded not guilty. He had hoped to resolve the gun case and another separate tax case in California with a plea deal last year, the result of a years-long investigation into his business dealings.

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The deal had him pleading guilty to lower-level charges that would have avoided the spectacle of a trial during the 2024 election campaign. It fell apart after Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned aspects of the proposed agreement, and the lawyers couldn’t resolve them.

Biden said he got charged because the Justice Department bowed to pressure from Republicans who argued that, as the president’s son, he was getting special treatment, and who have escalated their attacks on the criminal justice system since Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction in New York City in a hush money case.

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It’s unclear yet whether Biden will testify in his own defense. But jurors have already heard his voice.

Prosecutors played lengthy audio excerpts in court of his 2021 memoir, “Beautiful Things,” in which he wrote about his lifelong addiction issues and spiraling descent after the death of his brother, Beau, in 2015. The book, written after he got sober, covers the period he had the gun but doesn’t mention it specifically.

Lowell has said his client’s state of mind was different when he wrote the book than when he purchased the gun, when he didn’t believe he had an addiction.

He pointed out to jurors that some of the questions on the firearms transaction record are in the present tense, such as “are you an unlawful user of or addicted to” drugs.

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And he’s suggested Biden might have felt he had a drinking problem at the time, but not a drug problem. Alcohol abuse doesn’t preclude a gun purchase.

The reason law enforcement raised any questions about the revolver is because Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow, found it unloaded in Hunter’s truck on Oct. 23, 2018, panicked and tossed it into a garbage can outside a grocery store.

She testified about the episode Thursday.

He noticed it missing and asked her whether she had taken it.

“Are you insane?” he texted. He told her to go back to the market to look for it.

Surveillance video played for jurors showed her digging around in the trash can for the gun, but it wasn’t there. She asked store officials if someone had taken out the trash. She testified that Biden told her to file a police report because the gun was registered in his name. She called the police while she was still at the store.

Officers located the man who inadvertently took the gun along with other recyclables from the trash and retrieved it. The case was closed because of lack of cooperation from Biden, who was considered the victim.

If convicted, 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.

He also faces a separate trial in September on charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes.

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Associated Press writers Chase, Kunzelman and Lauer reported from Wilmington, Long from Washington.

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