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WILMINGTON: A jury was sworn in Monday in the gun trial of Hunter Biden, a historic criminal case against the son of a sitting president that could influence the 2024 presidential election.

Hunter Biden, 54, was put on trial in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, four days after Republican Donald Trump, the Democratic president’s rival in the November 5 US elections, became the first former president found guilty of a crime.

President Joe Biden’s son is accused of failing to disclose his use of illegal drugs when he purchased a .38-caliber Colt Cobra revolver and of illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days in October 2018.

He has pleaded not guilty to the three felony charges.

The case, prosecuted by Trump-appointed U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss, is one of two Hunter Biden criminal cases. He also faces federal tax charges in California.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika concluded the day with the swearing-in of the 12 jurors and four alternates. “Your job is to find out the facts,” she told them and ordered them not to discuss the case with anyone, not even each other.

The case is expected to center on Hunter Biden’s years of crack cocaine use and addiction, which he has discussed publicly and which was a major part of his 2021 autobiography, “Beautiful Things.” At a hearing last year, he told Noreika he had been sober since mid-2019.

Republicans have taken advantage of Hunter Biden’s problems to try to divert attention from Trump’s legal problems. Trump will be sentenced on July 11. He has pleaded not guilty in three other pending criminal cases.

Jill Biden, Hunter Biden’s wife Melissa Cohen Biden and his half-sister Ashley Biden were in attendance. Wilmington is the Bidens’ hometown.

“Jill and I love our son and are so proud of the man he is today,” Joe Biden said in a statement, adding that many families have loved ones who have overcome addiction.

Congressional Republicans have spent years in vain trying to find evidence of a corrupt link between Hunter Biden’s foreign affairs, including work for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and his father’s political power.

JURORS REVEAL PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH ADDICTION

Among the jurors were several who revealed personal experiences with drug addiction. One impaneled juror had a friend who overdosed and another, selected as an alternate, whose uncle’s drug use led to prison time.

“I feel like it’s an everyday part of the world,” the alternate juror said of substance abuse.

Few jurors expressed strong political opinions, but a handful said they knew members of the extended Biden family.

One potential juror said she and her husband knew Hunter Biden. “Wilmington is a small place,” the prospective juror told the judge before being dismissed.

All 12 jurors must agree that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted.

If convicted of all charges in the Delaware case, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, although defendants generally receive shorter sentences, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hunter Biden spent the weekend with his father in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with the pair biking and going to church together on Saturday.

PURCHASE GUN

Prosecutors will try to prove that Hunter Biden knew he was lying when he checked the “no” box next to a question on a federal gun purchase form asking whether he was an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

Prosecuting attorneys revealed in court documents that they may use details gleaned from Hunter Biden’s phone and iCloud account, including photos of him smoking crack and messages with drug dealers. They said they may call as a witness his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, who accused Hunter Biden in their 2017 divorce proceedings of squandering money on drugs, alcohol and prostitutes.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers indicated that they may try to prove that he had completed a drug rehabilitation program before purchasing the gun and may have considered his response on the gun purchase form to be truthful.

A plea deal that would have resolved the weapons and tax charges without prison time collapsed last year after Noreika questioned the scope of immunity extended to Hunter Biden. His lawyers blamed Republican pressure for the failure of the plea deal.

Noreika, Trump’s nominee to the bench, issued numerous orders over the weekend that prosecutors requested and that appeared to undermine the defendant’s legal strategy.

The judge said the defense could not present expert testimony that people suffering from substance abuse disorders might not consider themselves drug addicts.

That testimony could have helped Biden prove he didn’t know he was lying on the background check form. The government is required to prove that Biden knowingly lied.

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