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Hunter Biden Found Guilty On All Counts In Gun Case; Biden: "I Am The President, But I Am A Dad"; Biden: "I Will Always Be There For Hunter"; Trump Campaign Responds To Hunter Biden Conviction. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired June 11, 2024 - 12:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR OF INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY & CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Manu Raju in today for Dana. We are continuing CNN special coverage of the Hunter Biden verdict. The jury has found him guilty on all three federal charge -- gun charges he was facing. The jurors deliberated less than three hours.

CNN's Paula Reid is outside the courthouse. Paula, any reaction yet from either legal team?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, Manu, there is no reaction yet from either legal team. We do expect a written statement from Hunter Biden's camp any moment now. And then later today, the Special Counsel David Weiss will give a rare statement here outside the courthouse.

Now in Hunter Biden's legal team, there was hope. Even as early as this morning, that there would be one juror who would perhaps see this case as the story of addiction or a politically motivated prosecution. And that they would at least get one juror and possibly get a hung jury hear. That was a hope that they had, but here, Hunter Biden has of course, been convicted on all counts.

This jury of six men and six women, it is a majority black jury. They found that the prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hunter Biden was knowingly either using or addicted to drugs, when he filled out that form, when he purchased this gun, and when he owned it.

Now, the most difficult thing for prosecutors was to prove that Hunter Biden again knowingly lied that he was aware -- that he was either using or addicted to drugs. And what made that so difficult, Manu, is there was no direct evidence that he was using drugs during the time he owned this gun in October 2018.

Prosecutors presented quite a bit of evidence -- throughout the year of 2018, people who directly witnessed him doing drugs during that time, photographic evidence would suggest that he was doing drugs, but they didn't have that during the specific period where he owned this gun.

So instead, they relied on text messages. For example, that Hunter Biden sent to his sister-in-law and one time girlfriend Hallie Biden. We appeared to be suggesting he was either on drugs or doing drugs. Now defense attorneys and sources close to Hunter suggested that he was just making that up. He just didn't want to see Hallie Biden.

But in the end, the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that Hunter Biden knew that he was either using or addicted to drugs when he filled out that form to purchase the gun. Defense attorneys even tried to shift some of the blame onto the salesman who sold him the gun, getting him to admit that he was a quote, whale hunter or someone who tried to upsell customers or something that contradicted that witness's grand jury testimony.

Now look, Manu, the Hunter Biden team, they have a lot to work with on appeal. This is a unique case, and they certainly been prepared for that possibility. And going forward, we certainly expect they will appeal this conviction.

RAJU: Paula Reid, if there are any developments, we'll check back again with you. Thanks for that report outside the courthouse. I do want to go to CNN's Arlette Saenz. She's at the White House. Arlette, you just have heard from the president, what did he say?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. President Biden is weighing in for the first time since his only living son Hunter Biden has been convicted on all three felony gun charges. The president expressed his support for his son Hunter, and also importantly said that he would accept the outcome of this verdict.

I want to read you the president's statement. He said quote, as I said last week, 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. So many families who have had loved ones, battle addiction, understand the feeling of pride, seeing someone you love, come out the other side and be so strong and resilient and recovery.

The president said, as I also said last week, I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process. As Hunter considers and appeal, Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.

Now in an interview last week, President Biden was specifically asked whether he would accept the verdict in this trial. He said, yes. And he also ruled out the possibility of pardoning his son Hunter. Now throughout this process, the Biden family has gone to great lengths to keep their son close and show their support for him.

First Lady Jill Biden has been on hand for most days of this trial. In fact, just last week, she had crisscrossed the globe, traveling from Wilmington to France, and back again to be on hand for that trial. She was in Wilmington, Delaware when this verdict came down. But she arrived at the court just a few minutes after it had been read. She was seen departing the court with her son Hunter Biden hand-in-hand in another physical sign of support for Hunter Biden amid this trial.

[12:05:00] Now it all comes and really caps off several years of a tumultuous period for the Biden family. During this trial, they heard the re- airing of many of the sordid details of this troubled period in Hunter's life when he suffered from addiction.

There were clips of Hunter Biden reading his memoir, where he talked about his struggles with addiction. Hunter Biden's daughter, the president's granddaughter was on the witness stand, talking about her father, her interactions with him during in that troubled period in his life. And so really, this highlights just yet another painful moment for the Biden family.

Now, President Biden is here in Washington, D.C. today at the White House. A bit later this afternoon. there's potentially a awkward political moment. As his son has now been convicted on these felony gun charges, President Biden at 1:30 is actually slated to speak at a gun violence prevention conference for every town for gun safety.

The president in that event is supposed to talk about some of the policies his administration has put in place to try to prevent a gun violence. But we will see whether we get any other further comment from President Biden or potentially from the White House as well. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will be briefing the press a bit later this afternoon around 2:30.

But simply today, the president is saying that he is approaching this from the perspective of a father, offering his love and support to his son Hunter in the wake of this conviction of those three felony gun charges.

RAJU: All right, Arlette Saenz, outside the White House. So, the president said he will quote, accept the outcome and, quote, continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter Biden considers an appeal. Thanks for that.

And for more, let's bring in CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson, Tim Parlatore. Tim is a former attorney for Donald Trump. Joey first you. What do you think was the definitive argument or piece of evidence that that convinced the jury here?

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Manu, good to be with you. I think it was pretty straightforward case. And I think the jury just did not buy that there was not the addiction at the time of the actual purchase of the weapon. And I think it was pretty compelling in that regard.

Remember, the three charges. Number one, did you lie to a federally licensed dealer? Number two, did you give false indications on the form? And number three, were you an illegal possession of it in light of the fact that you were addicted?

And so, I would think as we see there, the form itself, the verdict. I would think that this would be a case if ever that perhaps would be subject, Manu, to what we call jury nullification. That is -- it's very sympathetic. We knew that there are people on that jury who had or were -- certainly were exposed and new people who had addictions, the defense argued a couple of things.

Number one, was he that is Hunter Biden at the time, deceiving himself that he act with the mental state required and knowingly that he believed he was over this hurdle in life. The jury rejecting that arguing, of course, that at the time he purchased the weapon. The fence would argue he wasn't addicted. There's no direct evidence as to his use at that time.

But -- so, I think at the end of the day, the jury perhaps value that, but said the law is the law and rendered a determination as to guilt with respect to him being an addict at the time of the purchase.

RAJU: And Tim, what grounds does Hunter Biden and his team have for an appeal? And how strong do you think their case would be on appeal?

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think that there's a lot of different grounds for appeal. You know, certainly the denial of bringing in an expert witness as to his mental state when he did this. But, also from a larger constitutional standpoint, you know, there is -- you know, already a Fifth Circuit case that we've been talking about where it already has said. You know, being an addict is not something under the new Supreme Court standard, a bruin (Ph) that should make it so that you can't purchase a firearm.

And I think that that is an issue that, you know, because you have that decision and the Fifth Circuit, of course, is being in a different circuit, could go all the way to the Supreme Court to invalidate this specific statute. You know, certainly we have prohibitions on, you know, whether you're a convicted felon, whether you're in the country illegally and whether you're a user of illegal drugs.

That's something that I think is going to be very interesting because when you do take that up on appeal, you're going to have Hunter Biden with amicus is from the NRA. Amicus is from veterans' groups and amicus is from the cannabis industry.

You know, there's a lot of veterans that I know that have to make a choice of -- you know, do they want to get a medical marijuana card? Or do they want to keep their firearms? Hunter Biden has the opportunity potentially to take this to the Supreme Court and say, you can do both. So, it is actually a very fascinating issue.

RAJU: Yeah. Odd bedfellows, indeed. Joey, what it comes next? When could we see Hunter Biden actually face sentencing? Is there possibility they could even -- he could even face prison time?


JACKSON: Yeah, quite a bit comes next, Manu. And I think that critical is the timeframe here. And here's why I say that at the federal level, you have a pretrial services office. It's a probation office. They do a deep dive into your history and make many assessments. As to you, they'll prepare an extensive report including their recommendation to the judge in terms of the prison time issue. The reason it's relevant here, right, to probation is that there's this federal guideline, right? It's a chart and we know statutorily over 25 years, that's not going to be the case. They look at your offense level, right? Do you have a criminal history? And what are you accused of here? And they have these guidelines. And within those guidelines and parameters, that's where your sentencing will be probably, you know, several months as a result of this offense and then it'll be up to the judge.

But what ultimately happens is defense counsel will be given a motion schedule to submit memorandums, including a whole host of people who say, judge, this is a person who's going to addiction. Please don't put them in. There'll be a whole lot of family members, friends, et cetera. Prosecutors then will weigh in on what happens then. And then of course, the judge at the time of sentence will hear our argument and render determination.

Final point, Manu, and that's because the timing is critical. Remember who's in office now and who might be in office for another four years, his father. If that's the case. I know, he's ruled out a pardon. But what about a commutation in the event his son is sentenced? Will now the president commute that sentence, let's say he doesn't spend time in jail. We know that he'll be sentenced in the fall.

And then of course, you look at the other case, the tax case, timing will be critical there. If he gets convicted, if he sentenced on that, and if Biden gets elected, nothing reelected -- nothing to see here. If he doesn't, and Trump's in the White House at the time he sentenced, if convicted then that's a problem too. I know a lot of ifs, a lot of them, a lot of wins. But the hypotheticals are very relevant here, Manu, because of the occupant of the office and what they can do in terms of pardon or not.

RAJU: Yeah. President said he wouldn't pardon. But what about commutation? That'll be another question. Tim Parlatore, Joey Jackson, thank you for that. And I want to bring in my great panel of political reporters and commentators. Welcome to you all.

Jamie, first to you. How do you think the president is obviously -- this is going to impact him on a personal level. This is his son who has just been convicted on three charges. How is he dealing with this right now?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, I'm sure this is very painful. This isn't what he wanted. On the other hand, they've known about this case. They know about his addiction. They know the facts of the case. I don't think it's a complete surprise. I just want to point out, can you imagine Donald Trump saying the following words. I will accept the outcome of this case and we'll continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal. We are in a completely different world from New York just a couple of weeks ago.

RAJU: Kate, you've been obviously a longtime adviser for President Biden. He put out that statement right away. Obviously, they were ready for this possibility. Should he speak more about it? Did he go out in public and go in front of the camera and talk about it that way?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, FORMER BIDEN WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR & CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I don't think so. I think he's been very disciplined about not putting his thumb on the scale, not weighing in. As Jamie just alluded to, obviously, that is a significant contrast with Donald Trump. That is an important contrast that he wants to drive that he also believes that no one is above the law that he has faith in our judicial system. That is an important contrast for him politically.

I think also it wouldn't -- just on a human level, I think it wouldn't be great for his son. I mean, I don't think he wants to be out there every day, talking about this incredibly difficult moment. So no, I think both politically and personally that that wouldn't be smart. I think he's struck a pretty disciplined line here.

The other thing I would just say quickly is, you know, obviously, this is a personally difficult moment for him and his family. But, you know, remember he's somebody who has dealt with a lot of personally difficult moments in his life, while juggling, being in public office. He lost his son to cancer while he was vice president. Obviously, his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash right after he was elected to the Senate.

So, you know, as he kind of -- as you think about how Biden is going to navigate this time. You know, he has a lot of experience being resilient in these moments and balancing the challenges of public life with personal difficulty.

RAJU: Shermichael, you're a Republican strategist. They've been supportive and saying all along, two-tiered justice system -- two- tiered justice said, here's the president son, prosecuted by federal government convicted by a jury. Does that undercut that out?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think it does a little bit, but not only as a Republican strategist, I also own a firearms company. And I can tell you, many individuals in the -- to a community welcome this case. And we hope that Hunter Biden takes us up to the Supreme Court because we believe that -- because of brewing, which was written by a conservative Justice Thomas, that this case is going to be overturned.

We also believe that the Supreme Court will likely change or at least issue some new rulings that will make it a little more difficult for some individuals who may want stricter gun laws. As a result of this, the court was pretty clear when they said, any gun restrictions must be within the historical context of regulation. That is not indeed the case here.

Tim mentioned the 2023 court decision from the Fifth Circuit. They made it clear you cannot restrict someone who utilizes an illegal substance from gun ownership, which is why I thought it was very bizarre that this case was even brought anyway -- were enough for his last name being Biden. I don't think the trial would have ever occurred.


ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. Manu, I don't -- I don't see this neutralizing the issue politically. You know, I mean, even right after this decision, even though the facts are the Justice Department did, there is no evidence right that the White House interfered here that the Justice Department proceeded independently.

You do already -- you have Stephen Miller, another Trump allies already questioning, why Hunter wasn't pressed with charges related to foreign interference. There's going to be criticism here, no matter what. I do think that the president language on this will be consistent with the statement that you saw today.

It actually reminds me of the debate the last time around when Trump was attacking him, mentioning Hunter Biden, and the president did come out and say, look, I stand by and love my son. That was one of the more memorable moments of that election cycle, about the language will stay consistent.

RAJU: Lisa, jump in.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah. But I do think like, of course, the most hardcore supporters of former President Trump are going to see this as unfair in some way and going to see this as a rigged system. But I do think America has gotten this very high-profile lesson in the justice system over the past month -- two months or so. And what they've seen is two figures from different parties, both facing justice in a way.

So, I do want -- I do think it's not the outcome. Republicans would have preferred. It's harder for them to make that case. And it's -- I think that's evident in like the limited reaction we've seen in the first row. You know, it's early still, of course, but it hasn't -- there hasn't been the squat groundswell of Republican response --

RAJU: Yeah. You know, it --

LERER: He was a strong political argument they'd be making.

RAJU: And Kayla, you cover the White House for CNN. President has actually been not distancing himself, necessarily from Hunter Biden. Joe Biden has been going every single day to first lady to the trial. The president put out this statement. What do you make of the way the president has handled this?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first family has been very supportive of the -- rest of the family going through this inside the courtroom. But I think it's been interesting to see the way that the White House has tried to sort of bifurcate the issue that this is a family matter. It's relatively siloed from the president's work in office.

But I think that -- here we talk about the Republican camp and how they're responding to this. President Trump personally is going to be hard pressed to respond to this because of the way that he's responded to this in the past. He was asked just last week in an interview about the Hunter Biden case. And he actually empathized and talked about his own family history with addiction.

And for all of the policy differences and the personality differences between the two presidents. One thing they have in common is the family experience with addiction, neither man drinks, because they say it hits too close to home. There's nothing that can be gained from that.

And even today, in seeing the response coming out of the Trump camp mean, there -- they sought a very delicate balance in hitting back against some of the other legal matters facing Hunter Biden, while also trying to be relatively compassionate on the part of the addiction case.

Specifically, there is this very unfortunate irony about President Biden talking about gun violence prevention today, trying to campaign on the work that he's done to reform gun safety at a time when this case has been going on. But perhaps once again, he would point to that and say, my work as president is different than the work that's going on him.

RAJU: And you mentioned the Trump campaign. We're actually going to be hearing more from the Trump campaign as we dig into all of this in just a few minutes. Stick with us. We'll be right back.




RAJU: Welcome back to CNN special coverage of the Hunter Biden verdict. The jury has found him guilty on all three federal gun charges, the president's son has been facing. I want to bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes. Kristen, you have been covering former President Trump. Any reaction from him or his team yet to the verdict?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manu, you wouldn't think that that's actually quite a complicated question. Now, we did get a statement from the campaign. Then they retracted that statement saying that Donald Trump himself wanted to weigh in on Truth Social. There was nothing in that statement that wasn't innocuous, but they wanted the former president to weigh in, obviously, we know that his campaign never wants to get ahead of the big boss.

But one thing I want to point out here is something you mentioned earlier, which is this conversation around a two-tiered justice system, something that Republicans have said time and time again. And Donald Trump has said time and time again, relating it particularly to this Hunter Biden case.

First it was the charges weren't being brought. Then it was that he wasn't going to trial that he was going to get a plea deal. Then it was that he was in trial but was likely not going to get a guilty verdict as the former president had now obviously, he has. So, it does weaken that argument, particularly as Donald Trump has sought to paint this his legal issues all with a broad brush of being related to Joe Biden, obviously, no evidence of that, but also being election interference and political persecution.

Now I want to bring up something, Kayla, mentioned, because I do think that's really significant here. Donald Trump himself is no stranger to addiction. Despite the fact that he has had little to no sympathy for Joe Biden or for Hunter Biden, he himself is somebody whose family has struggled with addiction. He says that he doesn't drink because it killed his brother, very serious for the Trump family. But yet again, this is not something that Donald Trump himself has shown any compassion for, when it comes to the Biden family.

RAJU: Interesting. You issued a statement retracting this David (Ph). All right, well, I'm sure we'll hear more from Donald Trump as well, check by giving you that happens. Kristen Holmes, thanks for that. My panel is back. So, Shermichael, what do you think of the way Trump should handle this? So, is this the right way for him to have?


SINGLETON: You know, I don't know --


SINGLETON: You know, I think he's going to have a hard time with this, because again, Trump spoke at the NRA convention. I was there. I think last month talking about how he is the protector of 2A rights. A lot of 2A advocates have been advocating for lesser restrictions on the Second Amendment. I was texting with someone who belongs to one of the major gun rights groups. And he was saying, look at the irony here. Hunter Biden may be the one to lessen the restrictions on the Second Amendment if this goes all the way up to the Supreme Court maybe a brewing part two.

So, this is a fascinating dichotomy for the former president. You certainly want to give that victory to the Second Amendment community. He knows, he's also talked about his own addictions within his own family. You want to be sensitive to that as well.

RAJU: I want to bring in Evan Osnos, who is a Biden biographer, interviewed him many times over the years. Evan, what is it -- what do you think is happening now between the president and his son? We don't know if they've actually spoken in the aftermath of this verdict. Do you knowing him? Is he someone who would call up his son right after this happened?

OSNOS: Yeah, he is. Manu, I think, you know, he often talks about and it's not just a lie. He talks about getting on the phone with his children -- with his children, his grandchildren. You know, look, Joe Biden got into politics a half century ago with a couple of, sort of pillars. One was faith and one was family. I mean, these are big things for him. And he kind of through these periods of setbacks politically. And then, of course, these are the tragedies that have hit his family. It has always been that they turn inside and sort of try to find that core strength in his statement that you saw him issue right after the conviction. He described praising his son for his strength and resilience.

I think, Manu, this is a test of that resilience, just the extraordinary overlapping set of pressures that he's going to face. Joe Biden over the course of the next few months, you know, an extraordinary challenge facing a former president who resisted leaving office. And now also his son's future hanging in the balance as they await, the sentencing and then a second trial in the fall.

You know, I'm struck by the fact, Manu, I started interviewing Joe Biden about a decade ago. It was when his son Beau was still living. It was a hopeful moment, in fact, in the prognosis for that case. And since then, the reverberations through this family with Beau's death have just been extraordinary.

RAJU: Thanks, Evan. And bring it back here in the room. Kate, there's a deal with this in the campaign season. The sentencing could happen right before the election. His son could be facing, of course, the second case, his tax case, also is going to happen before the election. Is there any concern in Biden world that politically this could splash back against the Brexit?

BEDINGFIELD: There's not a huge amount, there's going to -- there's not a huge concern that this will have political ramifications for a couple of reasons. First of all, obviously, Hunter Biden is not the president. He's not an elected official. That is an incredibly important distinction between what we see here and with Donald Trump, for example.

But secondly, you know, the experience, I can certainly tell you from my experience on the 2019 primary and 2020 general campaign with Biden. You know, Republicans and Donald Trump really tried to make this a key line of attack. I mean, you remember Donald Trump's standing of the rally shouting, where's Hunter, where's Hunter.

I mean, this was a really -- you know, significant piece of his line of attack against Joe Biden. And it just really didn't get traction, and it continued to run into the wall of Joe Biden's love for his family, which is how people absorbed, you know, Biden's response. And even people who weren't -- you know, who maybe didn't even feel that sympathetically toward Biden politically resonated with the way he talked about his family, the way he defended his son.

So, time and again, the Biden campaign has seen that this is not an attack that gets a lot of political purchase. And I think they would also argue that the contrast with Trump is good for them, both on love for -- love for family, but also rule of law and the belief that no one is above the rule of law.

RAJU: And Jamie, I want to -- I know you want to weigh in more about the Trump campaign response to this. GANGEL: So, look, we know that the campaign put out a statement. Let's just read the first line of the original statement that withdrew. This trial has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden crime family that further, this is not --

RAJU: Which they've not proven, you know, despite the law --

GANGEL: Which they have not proving, so we're, you know, crooked Joe Biden's reign over the Biden criminal impact goes on and on. The last line of it was as for Hunter, we wish him well in his recovery and legal affairs. However, the first -- the campaign immediately then was told to withdraw the last line. They sent an updated statement striking the well wishes to Hunter, then they took back the whole thing.

So, you know, this is -- this is -- it's going to be interesting now to wait and see what Trump actually posts when he does. But there is no --


LERER: That striking shows you even though it's been formally retracted, I guess, is that these are complicated politics for them. First of all, it's tapping into an issue that a lot of families in America have dealt with, which is addiction.