Hunter Biden lawyers question who filled out form at center of gun trial set for June 3

Hunter Biden’s defense attorney Abbe Lowell seemed to telegraph a key element of his defense strategy in a Delaware federal court on Friday: who exactly filled out the key federal gun form at the center of the trial?

The heart of the government’s case is that the president’s son checked a box on a government which stated that he was not using or addicted to drugs at the time he was purchasing a firearm — a violation of federal law in October 2018. 

At a hearing Friday, Lowell said there were indications the form was changed by employees after the sale. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have said there were only minor additions unrelated to the parts Hunter Biden filled out. 

There are two versions of the particular form that Hunter Biden filled out. The first was emailed on Oct. 26, 2018, and U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika has allowed that form into evidence.

There is also the physical version of the form which was filled out at the gun store. It was revealed at Friday’s hearing that a gun store employee, Gordon Cleveland, helped Hunter Biden fill out the form on that day. 

Cleveland is likely to be called to the stand and Noreika suggested the government would likely ask him to testify that Hunter Biden filled out the form and signed it. 


“We want to know who wrote what on the form,” Lowell told the court, to which Noreika asked, “Is there evidence that he didn’t check the box?” 

“We now know that they tampered with that form … Cleveland accepted an ID he shouldn’t have and [Ron] Palmieri [the gun store owner] changed the form,” Lowell said. 

Noreika told Lowell that what mattered was what his client put in the form. Lowell suggested again that all this is “subject to examination.”

Noreika said she would rule later on whether the physical form would be allowed into evidence, but seemed to agree that the gun store employees could be examined.

The trial begins with jury selection on June 3. Both sides have agreed that it would run until about the 14th, or possibly into the following week.

As he left the courtroom, Hunter Biden, who wore tangerine colored reading glasses at times during the proceeding, patted sketch artist Bill Hennessy on the back and said, “how’s it coming?”


Hunter Biden has acknowledged his struggles with substance abuse during the time he purchased a firearm, but his lawyers have derided the case as politically motivated. 

Noreika also agreed to consider defense questions about the contents of a laptop that Hunter Biden allegedly dropped off at a Delaware repair shop. The controversial “laptop” was dubbed by more than 50 former intelligence officials as Russian disinformation ahead of the 2020 election. Prosecutors have said there’s no evidence that it has been compromised and that a drawn-out fight would be a waste of time. 

There will be 12 government witnesses, though how many defense witnesses there will be remains unclear. 

President Biden’s son is also facing federal tax charges in Los Angeles. Noreika ruled that Special Counsel cannot mention that case, nor can it mention Hunter Biden’s alleged failure to pay child support, or his Navy discharge. 

Noreika has allowed jurors to be shown portions of Hunter Biden’s 2021 memoir, “Beautiful Things,” in which he talked candidly about his struggles with alcoholism and drug use. 

Hunter Biden’s lawyers have unsuccessfully pushed to have both the tax charges and the gun charges dismissed. They have argued that prosecutors acquiesced to political pressure to indict him after a plea agreement collapsed. 

The long-running federal investigation into the president’s son had looked ready to wrap up with a plea deal last year, but the agreement imploded after a judge raised questions about it. Hunter Biden was subsequently indicted.

Under the deal, he would have gotten two years of probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax charges. He also would have avoided prosecution on the gun charge if he stayed out of trouble.

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