Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, ex-girlfriend testify about drug use in gun trial

Hunter Biden‘s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and a woman he was later romantically involved with both testified Wednesday in his federal gun trial after his attorney sought to cast doubt on the authenticity of personal messages allegedly from his personal devices. 

Buhle, who was married to Hunter Biden for 20 years and shares three daughters with him, and Zoe Kestan, who was involved with Hunter Biden around 2017-2018 testified on Wednesday. A third woman romantically linked to Hunter Biden, Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter Biden’s brother Beau who found and discarded the gun at the center of the case, is expected to to take the stand on Thursday. 

Also on the stand on Wednesday was Gordon Cleveland, who sold Hunter Biden the firearm. Cleveland testified that Hunter Biden did not seem confused by the form, although defense attorney Abbe Lowell pressed him on the condition of the form at the center of the case, and the rules required for any changes made after submission.  

Lowell sought earlier Wednesday to cast doubt on the authenticity of personal messages allegedly from Hunter Biden’s personal devices. Under questioning from Lowell, FBI special agent Erika Jensen said she could not verify the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop admitted into evidence were not tampered with before law enforcement collected it from the Mac repair shop.   

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William J. Hennessy Jr.

Hunter Biden has been charged with three felonies stemming from his purchase of a revolver in October 2018. He is accused of making false statements on a federal gun form about his drug use, certifying he was not a user of or addicted to any controlled substance during a period when prosecutors allege he was addicted to crack cocaine. He was in possession of the gun for 11 days before Hallie Biden discarded the weapon. 

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to the charges.  

First lady Jill Biden was again in the courtroom on Wednesday morning, although she departed before Buhle took the stand. Close friends of the Biden family huddled in a brief moment of prayer in the courtroom before proceedings began. 

President Biden is not attending the trial — he is currently in France for events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. 

Gordon Cleveland testimony

Cleveland testified that he sold Hunter Biden a Colt Revolver, Speed loader, ammunition, a BB gun and a utility tool. Prosecutors showed the gun to Cleveland, and then walked by the jury with it open as well. 

On the day Hunter Biden purchased the firearm, Cleveland said that he told Hunter Biden to take his time when filling out the Form 4473 for the purchase. He said Hunter paid cash, and when he was left with change, which Hunter told him to keep and Cleveland ended up leaving in an envelope by the register. 

Opening Statements Begin In Hunter Biden Gun Trial
Kathleen Buhle (C), ex-wife of Hunter Biden, departs from the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 04, 2024 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Kathleen Buhle testimony

Buhle was married to Hunter Biden for 20 years and shares three daughters with him. 

Buhle said she found a “crack pipe” in 2015 and Hunter Biden confirmed to her that he used drugs. She described regularly searching his car for drugs to avoid drugs being inside when their teenage children were driving. She also said she tried to get him to go to rehab near the end of their marriage but he initially refused although he eventually complied.

Buhle said Hunter’s behavior had changed when he was using drugs, “he was not himself,” adding he would be “angry, short tempered.” He said he was able to function while on drugs but would hide his use from family and friends. 

Buhle testified that Hunter Biden moved out after she found the crack pipe, and they separated after the alleged infidelity. 

Zoe Kestan testimony

After Buhle finished her testimony, Kestan took the stand. When prosecutor Leo Wise asked her to identify the man she met at a gentlemen’s club in December 2017, leading Hunter Biden to raise his hand while his head was bowed. 

During that 30-minute meeting, Kestan said Hunter Biden opened a window or door to smoke what she assumed was a crack pipe. She said he was “charming,” and she said she only realized who he was after she saw a photo of him online.  

Although she said she did not go home with him that night, they met later at a New York hotel, where she said she saw him smoking crack within the first 10 minutes. She then recounted a series of instances between the east and west coasts where Hunter Biden allegedly engaged in drug and alcohol use in front of her. She also discussed how he allegedly used and stored drug paraphernalia. She said he often would withdraw cash for these alleged drug deals, and even once gave her a temporary app code to withdraw funds while he was back at a hotel. 

Prosecutors showed images allegedly taken by Kestan that showed crack pipes in the rooms they sayed in, as well another one that allegedly showed Hunter Biden in a bathtub with a crack pipe in his hand. Another showed him with a t-shirt that read “addicted” with a marijuana leaf.

Kestan said she had family members who suffered with addiction, and the pair had discussed ways to help get him sober. But she said he never changed, and although he would smoke crack about every 20 minutes or so, she described him as “so charming, so nice.” 

FBI agent testimony 

Prosecutors first called FBI special agent Erika Jensen, who was called to verify personal messages on Hunter Biden’s devices.

During cross-examination, Hunter Biden’s attorney, Lowell, pressed Jensen on whether she could verify the contents of the laptop admitted into evidence were not tampered with before law enforcement collected it from the Mac repair shop, which Jensen could not verify. 

Lowell pointed to the content of Biden’s text messages around the time of the gun purchase, noting that those, specifically, did not reference drugs. In his opening statement, Lowell sought to show that drug addicts often don’t consider themselves addicts.

“In jury selection, you were asked about whether you or members of your family may have had any issues with drug abuse,” Lowell said in his opening statement. “If you have or even if not, the evidence will show you that like so many people, including Hunter, until their problems, are in a deep state of denial about their use.”

On Tuesday, Jensen testified about the laptop that Hunter Biden left behind at a Delaware repair shop and never retrieved. She said the laptop contained “evidence of addiction.” 

She read aloud Hunter Biden’s text messages that used coded language such as “baby powder” and “chore boy” to conceal his crack cocaine use as he appeared to be arranging to buy drugs in the months leading up to the gun purchase. 

The day after the gun purchase, she testified, Hunter Biden sent a message to Hallie Biden about “waiting for a dealer named Mookie.” The next day, he sent another to her that said, “I was sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th Street and Rodney.” 

Jensen also testified that bank statements showed Hunter Biden withdrawing more than $151,000 in cash between September 2018 and November 2018. He made cash withdrawals on all but four days in October, the month he purchased the gun. He withdrew $5,000 on Oct. 12, 2018, the day he bought the gun. 

Hunter Biden’s voice recordings

Prosecutors played audio recordings of Hunter Biden reading his memoir, “Beautiful Things” in which he detailed his drug use around the same time as the gun purchase. In one of the recordings, Hunter Biden said “I used my superpower, finding crack anytime, anywhere, less than a day after landing at LAX in the spring of 2018.”

During this reading of the audio recordings, Hunter Biden’s family reacted emotionally, including first lady Jill Biden. As they played the recordings, some of the jurors grimaced while Ashley Biden and Jill Biden reacted emotionally, with Melissa Cohen Biden offering support to the first lady and the first lady putting her arm around Ashley Biden’s shoulder. Ashley Biden eventually left the courtroom.

Hunter Biden Gun Trial Continues In Delaware
Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by his his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, arrive to the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 05, 2024 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Charges against Hunter Biden

In the three-count indictment, the president’s son is charged with making false statements on a federal gun form about his drug use, certifying he was not a user of or addicted to any controlled substance during a period when prosecutors allege he was addicted to crack cocaine. Hunter Biden purchased a Colt Cobra .38 Special revolver, and it remained in his possession for 11 days before it was discarded in an outdoor receptacle by Hallie Biden, his romantic partner at the time. 

The president’s son faces up to 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines if convicted on all counts.

Separately, he faces nine federal tax charges in the central district of California in a second indictment brought by Weiss’ office where federal prosecutors allege Hunter Biden engaged in a “four-year scheme” to avoid paying at least $1.4 million in federal taxes. References to the tax charges are not admissible in his gun trial in Delaware. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

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