Compelling Hallie Biden

Hallie Biden is getting married this weekend, apparently between the time her youngest graduated from high school and the ninth anniversary of Beau Biden’s death and the start of the Hunter Biden trial, at which she will be the most important witness. I learned that when I perused the Page Six reporting on how Melania, Barron, and Ivanka all snuck into Trump Tower to commiserate with Donald after he was made a convicted felon.

Goodness knows that woman has been put through the wringer since Murdoch has made Hunter the primary focus of its obsession; I wish her a long, supportive, private marriage.

But first she has to make it through two Hunter Biden trials.

I want to focus on one aspect of the Hunter Biden trial, which starts next week, which has been missed by those doing scene-setters for the trial. This post, on how prosecutors plan to prove their case, and this one, on rulings thus far on motions in limine lay out much of how the trial will go.

Judge Noreika still has to rule on a dispute about whether Hunter Biden will be able to show the jury how the gun shop doctored his purchase form when the ATF asked for the hard copy of it. If she permits that, it makes two of the three charges against Hunter far sketchier, both of which rely on the way he filled out a form when he purchased the gun. Once gun shop employees admit that they didn’t require Hunter to provide a valid ID because they knew who he was, and then doctored the form years later to cover up that they had done so, it will provide an opening for Hunter’s lawyers to raise a doubt about what happened with the form on the front end and certainly whether it was material to the sale (materiality is required by just one of those two counts).

That leaves Count Three, that Hunter was either an addict or a user of illegal drugs during the period he knowingly owned the gun in 2018. As the government laid out and Judge Noreika adopted for her orders, they will only need to prove that he knew he had the gun and either knew he was an addict or that he used a controlled substance in those 11 days in 2018.

Thus, that leaves only the following issues for trial with respect to Count Three: (1) whether the defendant was either an unlawful user of a controlled substance or a drug addict;4 (2) whether the defendant knowingly possessed a firearm, (3) whether the defendant knew he was a unlawful user of a controlled substance or a drug addict at any point in time while he possessed the firearm (i.e., on any date between October 12 and October 23, 2018).

This is the charge that is most ripe to be overturned by post-Bruen constitutional charges, and Hunter plans an as-applied constitutional charge if he is convicted on it. But it is also the one that will be easiest to prove.

To prove it, though, prosecutors will rely heavily on Hallie Biden.

That’s because she exchanged a bunch of texts with Hunter both during the period he had the gun and as he almost immediately realized that she had done something with it on October 23, including these from October 14 where he seemingly describes smoking crack in a car.

Hunter had days earlier lost his phones, and so he was repurposing an old phone when he sent these texts.

The government has repeatedly described that they’ll have a witness — who by description is Hallie — who will testify that she sent and received those messages.

What we’re using on the laptop are messages that will be corroborated by a witness in this case who will testify that she sent those messages and received those messages.

If they can convince a jury these texts are valid representations of Hunter’s mindset at the time, it will be fairly compelling evidence on Count Three.

And that’s why the question of whether and if so how prosecutors compelled Hallie’s testimony is of interest.

In the face of representations from her attorney that she would invoke the Fifth Amendment on the stand, David Weiss has moved to compel her testimony in Los Angeles.

The Special Counsel hereby applies to this Honorable Court for an order compelling Hallie Biden to testify and produce evidence pursuant to the provisions of Title 18, United States Code, Section 6001 et seq., and respectfully represents as follows:

1. Hallie Biden has been subpoenaed to testify before this Court during trial beginning on June 20, 2024;

2. Counsel for Hallie Biden has advised that if Hallie Biden is called to the stand she will at that time refuse to answer questions, invoking the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination;

3. In the judgment of the Special Counsel, the testimony of Hallie Biden may be necessary to the public interest; and

4. Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg, an authorized Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States, has approved this application for an order instructing Hallie Biden to testify pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 6002 and 28 C.F.R. § 0.175(a).

Even though, absent statutes of limitation, her testimony in the Delaware case might be just as incriminating (because she’s the one who disposed of the gun), there’s no sign of such compulsion in the Delaware docket.

There is, however, a sealed filing (uncontested by Hunter’s team) pertaining to the testimony of a female witness that David Weiss has gotten permission to retain under seal until after the witness finishes testifying.

The United States of America, by and through its attorneys, David. C. Weiss, Special Counsel, and Derek E. Hines and Leo J. Wise, Assistant United States Attorneys for the District of Delaware, move that the enclosed filing be filed under seal as well as the accompanying proposed order and requested order from the court. The filing relates to a witness issue in the upcoming trial. The government will move to unseal this filing after the conclusion of the witness’s testimony at trial. In the interim, the government requests that the filings remain under seal to protect her identity from public disclosure so that her security is not compromised and so that there will be no witness intimidation issues that could undermine these proceedings. See United States v. Smith, 776 F.2d 1104, 1115 (3d Cir. 1985).

This isn’t necessarily Hallie: in addition to the female FBI agent and Hunter’s ex-wife, there’s a female witness who partied with Hunter in Los Angeles in spring 2018 whose testimony might have some unique circumstances behind it. But, given the motion to compel her testimony in Los Angeles, there’s a pretty good likelihood it is Hallie.

Indeed, it could be nothing more than a sealed version of the motion to compel in Los Angeles (which for some reason did not obscure her identity), which was filed just three days later.

Obviously, prosecutors have prepped Hallie’s testimony. They claim to know precisely how she’ll testify. So there shouldn’t be too many surprises next week at trial.

If nothing else, however, it would mean two of three key witnesses at trial (the other being the gun shop owner, who testifying under a proffer admitted he only retroactively created a record of having required the proper identification for the sale) had concerns about their own legal exposure for a gun sale made over five years ago. It would mean that prosecutors have decided to pick and choose who’ll face legal liability for those events, deciding that Joe Biden’s kid will be the one who faces legal consequences for a charge no one else would have been charged with under the circumstances.

51 replies
  1. Shadowalker says:

    That’s an odd exchange. Does the government have proof that he was at that location at that particular time? How long is cell tower ping telemetry retained?

    • Davec2022 says:

      In my non-enforcement, missing persons investigation experience, the cell carrier location data logging starts to get purged in 2 – 6 weeks. That said, there is a lot of variability between carriers & year to year. Also, Google & Apple have somewhat sticky default location data collection. Google & Apple both appear to see value in as much long term personal data profiling & retention as possible.

  2. Upisdown says:

    People suffering with severe depression often exaggerate in their communications. I experienced that constantly when my father was still alive. Authenticating the texts may help establish Hunter’s stated state of mind, however, addicts tell lies. And addicts who are desperate due to withdrawal side effects lie a whole lot. I think the prosecution will need a witness who actually saw Hunter doing drugs during that time period if they want to avoid reasonable doubt.

    • zscoreUSA says:

      According to the Trial Brief, there will be Witness 2 to testify that Hunter was using drugs in “the fall of 2018 [November based on description that she visited in Massachusetts] (after his gun
      possession) and over the course of 3 days, she observed the defendant
      smoking crack cocaine every 20 minutes.”

      I don’t understand why that would be helpful here to prosecutors since Hunter no longer owned a gun at that point.

    • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

      For my part, it would make a difference whether the depression was major depressive disorder or the negative affective state at the tail of a bipolar mania. Although both show Beck’s Cognitive Triad (negative thoughts on self, others, future) in a depression survey, one is vanilla and the other almond. Likely the latter, in my informed opinion (I have a B.A. in English).

      Maybe Hunter has never been diagnosed. Who cares? I think he has the bipolar temperament, a grade A, first-class, beautiful American maniac. In crisis he’ll do unconscious dream work in everyday life. For my part, I think the man has a chance to develop into a really great painter. I’m a maniac and people can’t believe how hard I can pull. Mania is a Road Warrior switch that adds to intelligence but your symbolic processing manner, as long as you’re okay seeing things like early modern human, maybe. You can start to see omens. If your unconscious has a sense of humor, God will tell you jokes. I”ve never heard of Hunter Biden being in a fully delusional state, so he might not need the “Nash maneuver” like I do sometimes.

      My feeling is that a jury might not find the argument Hunter potentially was exaggerating his communications so credible, despite its possible validity, despite his depressed state. I think the complexity of the attribution makes it very difficult to present in speech, and it doesn’t follow the script of a “normal” attribution style. In social psychology, fundamental attribution error causes observers to underemphasize situational and environmental factors for the behavior of an actor while overemphasizing dispositional or personality factors. Oddly, people would script Hunter’s depression, I think, as a “situational or environmental factor” and discount it, especially given his privileged upbringing as well as the sexual and criminal stigma attached to so much of his behavior during this period.

  3. Tarrforme says:

    This is what’s wrong with America, half the country doesn’t care what Hunter is charged with, his last name is Biden, so lets hurt him.

    Unfortunately, Bragg doesn’t help the situation either, by using a novel legal theory to get Trump, ” for a charge no one else would of been charged with under the circumstances”.

    Where do we go from here.

    • Shadowalker says:

      It’s not all that novel since the same principle is used for conspiracy charges. What is novel is raising the crime from misdemeanor to felony in that way.

      • Shadowalker says:

        I forgot to add that it’s not a theory but state law that has successfully been upheld on appeal.

    • Rayne says:

      for a charge no one else would of been charged with under the circumstances

      Of fucking course no one else would have been charged like this, because the circumstances were wholly unique: no one else has ever been caught and charged using business fraud in the state of New York to hide unreported campaign donations used to hide extramarital sex with a porn star in order to win election as POTUS.

      And you’ll note no indicted POTUS candidate found guilty on one or more charges of business fraud has ever remained in the race, regardless of the state in which they were charged. Still wholly unique circumstances.

      Ditto for ex-POTUS now POTUS candidates indicted and found guilty who had already pressured law enforcement to charge a private citizen with crimes in order to harass that citizen’s parent — wholly unique circumstances created by a lifelong scofflaw.

      Step up your English composition, btw: of s/b have

      • Tarrforme says:

        Oh please – the FEC, SDNY, and two or three DA’s (including Bragg), looked at the alleged illegal campaign contributions and alleged false business records and elected not to prosecute.

        Sometimes I wish you could channel your inner Bmaz, because being on full blast hate trump is not worth ruining the justice system.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m so sorry you missed all the evidence that proved the charges of election interference.

        • NYsportsfanSufferer says:

          Michael Cohen went to federal prison for lying about this. Why Trump didn’t get charged by his own DOJ for it? Well you do the math. You read Marcy’s posts so you should get it by now.

          Trump has been defrauding this state his entire life. Rudy took down the mob but for some reason he never went after his buddy in real estate. Ever wonder why that bond is so strong?

        • Rayne says:

          Whew. I guess I should have checked before I wasted my time on you with your whopping 21 comments here since March 3, 2024, when your first comment was a weaselly attempt to ensure everybody knew Joe Biden was “Big Guy” in spite of the Russian asset stuck in the middle of the post under which you commented and apparently failed to read.

          Clearly you haven’t been reading this site for long if at all if you don’t already know the history of SDNY being influenced directly by Trump, but hey, read about it elsewhere.

          I *am* channeling here, and it’s about protecting this site from accounts intent on amplifying right-wing bullshit. You can stop that bullshit any time now.

        • timbozone says:

          I guess you missed the part where Michael Cohen was charged within the same criminal conspiracy and went to prison after taking a plea deal. Also the part where Bill Barr intervened to try to get Trump legally away from Cohen’s criminal behavior. Seriously, did it ever occur to you that the reason Trump wasn’t charged was that Trump controlled the legal system at that point, that is the Federal AG office held by Barr. The same thing is not the case in NY state and now Trump must answer for his campaign finance crimes just like any other politician that is caught doing so.

        • ButteredToast says:

          Oh please – one prosecution of Donald Trump, even if in your opinion it shouldn’t have been brought, is not equivalent to “ruining the justice system.” There have been plenty of far more egregious prosecutions (and far more unjust sentences than Trump will probably receive). Did you say those “ruin[ed] the justice system?”

        • Dmbeaster says:

          This is bogus. A declination by the US Attorney just reflects, probably, an unwillingness to premise a case on Cohen. When Trump’s DOJ prosecuted Cohen for the same thing, was that wrong?
          Why do you think Trump merits a pass for criminal behavior?

        • ShadeSeeker says:

          I wonder whether statements that no one else would have been charged for Trump’s election interference is GOP propaganda. Perhaps there was a lack of evidence to bring the charges earlier. Clearly Michael Cohen was successfully tried for the same incident and received a 3 year sentence.
          6 years ago, Dylan Matthews and Andrew Prokop in a VOX article Apr 13, 2018 stated the following amongst others:

          “Payments of $30,000 and $150,000 from AMI, to Sajudin and McDougal respectively, are clearly above the individual limit, and since they came from a company, they could run afoul of the corporate direct donation ban as well.”

          ….. UC Irvine law professor Rick Hasen concurred talking to the New Yorker’s Farrow….

          “Common Cause, the left-leaning watchdog group….. has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against both Trump and American Media Inc. over the payment, calling it “an illegal corporate in-kind contribution to the 2016 Trump campaign.” ”


        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          LOL. This site is built on evidence and argument. It is not remotely evidence-free, “full blast,” hate Trump.

          If this is your nominee for the one case that ruins the American criminal justice system, thanks for playing, but you’re not a winner.

    • freebird says:

      The bribe payments and the false business records allowed Trump to change the course of American history. So it is not novel.

    • Krisy Gosney says:

      So this big cast of multinational characters would not have come together, put all this concerted effort in to go after Hunter Biden if Alvin Bragg hadn’t prosecuted Donald Trump in NYC? Really? Really?

  4. zscoreUSA says:

    Miranda Devine really has eyes and ears on alert. Was this marriage first reported elsewhere before Page Six? Are there notifications from public records databases pinging a bunch different reporters and news orgs who has ran a story?

    Hallie Biden, … is remarrying, Page Six has learned.

    Hallie is getting hitched to … we’re told.

    A marriage license for the couple appeared in Hamilton County, Ohio, according to records.

  5. NYsportsfanSufferer says:

    And what if Hallie doesn’t turn on Hunter? Then what for the prosecution? They’re kind of screwed if she plays coy.

    I’m going to guess Lowell is going to argue the gun was illegally sold and that’s why the form was altered. Would that even work?

    • Shadowalker says:

      Who says she will turn on Hunter? All she has to do is tell the truth. The first two charges are thought crimes, which means the prosecution has to convince 12 jurors that they can prove beyond reasonable doubt what someone else was thinking in that moment.

      • NYsportsfanSufferer says:

        I didn’t say she would. I’m just asking what happens if the prosecution doesn’t get what they want out of her. She’s their witness. She is probably the star witness.

        I think the prosecution is going to have a tough lift when it comes to that ATF form especially if the original form is admitted into evidence. Hallie is the witness to the 3rd charge of possession of the gun while using drugs.

        • Shadowalker says:

          I don’t see how that helps the case any unless she testifies she witnessed Hunter using drugs during that time period. It also opens the door for her to give the reason for disposing of the gun on cross. Hint: it wasn’t prior drug use.

        • NYsportsfanSufferer says:

          June 1, 2024 at 7:50 pm

          She very likely thought he was going to kill himself. Depression does not equal drug use or addiction. Hunter was very depressed after his brother passed.

          I don’t think Weiss has considered the human element of this case. It really is a heartbreaking story. His tax case I get, but this gun case is just pathetic imo. Nobody else would be charged for this.

        • Shadowalker says:

          June 1, 2024 at 8:14 pm

          Exactly, that also doesn’t help the prosecution’s case, because as defined by law, the drug use cannot have another cause other than the addiction itself.

  6. Savage Librarian says:

    There is some noise and manipulation of the media from the rightwing now about the release of a Lunden Roberts’ tell-all book from Skyhorse Publishing due out mid August. She apparently is a gun enthusiast whose father is a gun manufacturer and friend of Don Jr.

    Apparently she claims something about guns relative to her time with Hunter.

  7. originalK says:

    The Internet is truly amazing. I just read more about Susan McDougal in the last half-hour than I ever did in the 90s (and I was a daily user of the www even back then).

    Historic felony conviction aside (My take: Pyromaniacs occasionally get singed), I don’t think we’ve reached the peak sh*tshow that was Whitewater/Ken Starr/Clinton & Lewinsky yet. History claims the economy was great then, too. Those who know it are doomed to know how we’re repeating it.

    FWIW, I’m as ready to hear the defense’s cross of Ms. Biden – like what would ever compel someone to toss a handgun in the trash?

    • P J Evans says:

      Friend had a housecleaner whose son did two years for picking up a gun that had been tossed out of a car into weeds after a driveby, then dropping it again. On the word of a guy who was a couple of hundred feet away, on the other side of a major (at least 6 lanes) street, looking through a window *diagonally*.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If you have reasons not to turn it into the cops or give it to a gun dealer, a common solution is to recycle it into the sea or freshwater. No prints or DNA. Tossing it into an open dumpster is a sure way to get it into someone else’s hands, someone who will use it or sell it to someone who will. Not a good move.

  8. Badger Robert says:

    A cross examination question to be asked of Hallie: As far as you know, the gun had never been fired?
    Objection: Irrelevant.
    But the jurors would like to know, wouldn’t they?
    And Mr. Biden is not running for office. He can and will say that he’s sorry he bought the weapon out of fear, and is happy it was disposed of, in the probation process.
    Ms. Wheeler as always, researching details we could never find on our own.

  9. Michael8748 says:

    Question for the legal eagles regarding Trump’s sentencing, do you think the defense is going to raise his age as a reason to keep him out of jail while his 80 year old, (first time offender?) accountant is currently sitting in Rikers?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump will let his lawyers use that argument right after he lets them argue diminished capacity, to get a more lenient sentence.

    • timbozone says:

      I suspect that Trump’s lawyers are going to use every trick they can to keep Trump from being confined or limited in movement. If it comes to it, they’ll use the age issue too.

  10. klynn says:

    I have yet to understand why Hunter’s case was not dealt with through rehab, fines and community service. IANAL.

    • EatenByGrues says:

      Because he’s the son of the POTUS, and being targeted for flagrantly malicious prosecution for crass political reasons.

  11. PensionDan says:

    My hypothesis about the identification presented or not presented at the gun shop is that most commonly, the identification used would be a driver’s license. But, in that case, the gun shop would need to record the DL#. As they skipped the identification step at purchase, they added ‘D.E vehicle registration’ later. Would they need to provide a number for that as well?

    • originalK says:

      Hi PensionDan – I’ve replied to you before re:the DE vehicle registration; it is a topic of interest to me as well. I did a bit more EW-like looking for facts, though never into the belly of the beast (MarcoPolo archive) – occasional clicks to NYPost & Washington Examiner is as low as I can go!

      a) In the 4473 form, I also don’t see any indication that a VIN was recorded for the DE registration addendum. There are instructions (18b) for how to handle using more than one type of ID to verify identity and residency, but apparently only require recording the “type” and “issuing authority”, not actual numbers.
      b) On the Cleveland 302 (from 5/17/2024) the agent reports that “Cleveland is 100% sure that Biden pulled up in a black Cadillac CTS”
      c) On the docket, one of the subpoenas “returned unexecuted” (ECF #139) is to the Delaware DOT and requests vehicle registration records for a specific VIN. The date on that filing is 5/20/2024.
      d) In a January 17, 2019 e-mail about a HB career transition, his assistant attaches a spreadsheet of his bills – it includes a 2018 Raptor, 2014 Porsche, and insurance for a 2012 Audi. Somewhat inexplicably, she included the VIN for the Raptor in her spreadsheet, but it is redacted. His assistant notes in her email that her last day with HB will be January 31, 2019, but EW has highlighted that she was still helping him out in February.

      • emptywheel says:

        I’m fairly certain the DOT provided proof they couldn’t have gotten the reg. But I also think the gun shop owner’s testimony concedes they simply made that up.

      • originalK says:

        I confess that I did not read the Palimere 302 before commenting on this – I have liar-avoidant tendencies and am obv. not a journalist, attorney or FBI agent.

        For background, here is some 2014 reporting on the gun shop (at its original location?).

        The shop he owned next door in 2018 – JR’s Trading Post – “Your Pawn Shop Alternative” – would likely have also had some record-keeping requirements and stolen-goods obligations under state law. It apparently closed in summer 2019. Based on google street view, the gun shop itself may also have been shuttered recently.

  12. Error Prone says:

    Rereading an online indictment copy, all three counts say, “user of and addicted to.”

    “And” and not “or.” What exact burden of proof in practice is needed, as a question for EW lawyers who have experience in handgun – addiction cases?

    Also, “firearm” is generic. Hunters using muzzle loaders and keeping them racked but ready for a new hunting license while using marijuana for medical reasons, per prescription in a permissive state, would technically be at risk for indictment and trial. Clearly prosecutorial discretion to not try persons exists, but in reading EW content, use of discretion to choose to pursue Hunter has no “ordinary practice” remedy. Is there any body of law about “ordinary use of prosecutorial discretion” being a judicially recognized limit? Or does the word “discretion” mean absolute discretion, even to waste court time with this hypothetical hunting med-mj user? Is it actually, “we just don’t go that far here,” being a sliding allowance of blanket discretion, but some do, some don’t?

    • Shadowalker says:

      IANAL But it may be written that way (“user of and addicted to.”) because the law defines an addict as someone who is so far addicted to the use of the drug that they lose self-control in regards to their addiction. So addicts can legally purchase and possess firearms so long as they maintain self-control due to their addiction, and the use was not caused by something else.

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