Hunter Biden laptop to be introduced as evidence at gun trial, special counsel Weiss says in filing

A federal judge has also postponed Hunter Biden's separate trial on tax charges.

ByLucien Bruggeman ABCNews logo
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Hunter Biden seeks a delay in tax trial set to begin in LA next month
Hunter Biden's lawyers will press a judge to delay his trial that's set to begin next month in Los Angeles on charges that he schemed to avoid paying $1.4 million in taxes.

Prosecutors plan to use Hunter Biden's infamous laptop as evidence in an upcoming trial to help them prove that the president's son unlawfully obtained a firearm in 2018.

Special counsel David Weiss wrote Wednesday that "the defendant's laptop is real (it will be introduced as a trial exhibit) and it contains significant evidence of the defendant's guilt."

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty in October to federal gun charges after prosecutors say he obtained a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver and lied on a federal form about his drug use at the time. Biden owned the firearm for eleven days and never fired it, his attorneys said.

FILE - Hunter Biden walks to board Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport, March 29, 2024, in New York.
FILE - Hunter Biden walks to board Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport, March 29, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

The laptop has become a symbol of the legal and political controversy surrounding the president's son in recent years. Weiss' office plans to use the laptop to demonstrate that Biden was on drugs around the time of his gun purchase in October 2018.

The younger Biden chronicled his extensive drug use in his memoir, "Beautiful Things," and has acknowledged the problematic behavior that came with it.

His gun-possession trial is scheduled to begin on June 3. Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to three felony counts.

Attorneys for Hunter Biden had previously attempted to preclude the laptop as evidence, arguing that they have "numerous reasons to believe the data had been altered and compromised before investigators obtained the electronic material."

Prosecutors say Biden should take the stand in objecting to outside addiction experts


n Wednesday, prosecutors also asked the judge overseeing the gun case to reject several expert witnesses the president's son intends to call at trial, including a clinical researcher focused on addiction treatment.

Biden's mental state is a key issue in the case, which includes allegations that he knowingly made false statements while purchasing a firearm as a user of illegal drugs.

His attorneys have not indicated whether he will testify in his own defense.

The testimony, prosecutors say, is "an attempt to substitute the testimony of an expert for the testimony of" the defendant.

While defense attorneys want the doctor to testify on addiction disorders and how individuals understand their own addiction, prosecutors say the testimony should not be allowed, in part, because it would go into the expert's opinion about the mental state of Hunter Biden at the time of the alleged crime, which they say is not allowed in a criminal trial.

"If the defendants (wants) the jury to know what he thought about his own addiction or drug use, he has to take the stand and testify or introduce other admissible evidence that reflects his state of mind at the time," prosecutors wrote. "He cannot hire an expert to do it for him."

Prosecutors also don't want defense attorneys to be allowed to call a forensic toxicologist, who could be used to undercut evidence regarding the alleged cocaine residue found on Biden's gun pouch, as well as an expert on handwritten signatures.

Federal Judge Maryellen Noreika, who is presiding over the case, hasn't said when she'll rule on these pretrial motions about expert witnesses and how the laptop can be discussed in front of the jury.

But in his response on Wednesday, Weiss claimed that Biden "has not provided any evidence or information that shows that his laptop contains false information, and the government's evidence shows the opposite."

"Any argument that suggests his laptop is not authentic would be inappropriate because there is no foundation for such questioning, and it risks creating juror confusion about the evidence actually at issue in this case," Weiss wrote.

The development came on the same day a federal judge postponed Hunter Biden's Los Angeles trial on tax charges until Sept. 5 -- raising the likelihood that a jury could be deliberating whether to convict the president's son on several felony counts in the waning weeks of the 2024 election.

Judge Mark Scarsi on Wednesday granted a motion from Hunter Biden's legal team to move the trial from June 20 to September, giving them the chance to adequately prepare.

Attorneys for Hunter Biden had said a June 3 trial would hamper their ability to adequately represent their client.

"There was an assumption that he could do both, but it's becoming complicated," Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Hunter Biden, said at a hearing on Wednesday.

Prosecutors in Weiss' office had opposed the delay.

They argued in court papers and again at a hearing on Wednesday that a delay would inconvenience their office and several witnesses who they had already subpoenaed to testify at trial in June and July.

Weiss' office charged Hunter Biden in December in California with nine felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from his failure to pay $1.4 million in taxes for three years during a time when he was in the throes of addiction. Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The back taxes and penalties were previously paid in full by a third party, identified by ABC News as Hunter Biden's attorney and confidant, Kevin Morris.

The new trial schedule raises the likelihood that Hunter Biden will be on trial as many voters begin casting their ballots. The parties predict that the trial could last up to six weeks, meaning jurors could be deliberating a verdict in mid-October.