4 big takeaways from Day 3 of Hunter Biden's federal gun case

Hunter Biden's ex-wife and former girlfriend both testified Wednesday.

June 5, 2024, 6:31 PM

Prosecutors in Hunter Biden's federal gun case summoned two of his exes to the stand Wednesday in an effort to chip away at the defense's argument that the president's son wasn't addicted to drugs when he filled out a form to purchase a firearm in 2018.

President Joe Biden's son faces three counts of lying on a federal form about his drug use to procure the firearm in October of 2018. He has denied wrongdoing.

Ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan said she observed him smoking crack cocaine in late September of that year, just weeks before he walked into a Delaware gun shop and purchased a Colt Cobra from Gordon Cleveland, another witness who testified on Wednesday.

Kathleen Buhle, the ex-wife of Hunter Biden, said Hunter Biden was "angry" and "short-tempered" when he was on crack, but nonetheless managed to "function" normally as an addict -- possibly undermining the defense's claim that "there is no such thing as a high-functioning crack addict."

Before court concluded, prosecutors suggested they could rest their case as soon as Thursday afternoon after hearing testimony from six additional witnesses.

Here are four big takeaways from Day 3 of the trial.

Ex-girlfriend testifies about Hunter Biden's drug use

Zoe Kestan, who met Hunter Biden as a private dancer at a New York gentlemen's club, said she saw Biden smoke crack the night they met in December 2017 and consistently throughout their yearlong romantic relationship.

In the first week of their relationship, Kestan, who was 24 years old at the time, said she "felt a connection" with the 48-year-old Biden -- despite his use of crack "every 20 minutes or so."

Twice during her testimony Kestan said she did not notice changes in his behavior while he was on drugs, casting doubt on defense attorney Abbe Lowell's claim that those close to him would have known whether or not he was abusing drugs at the time of his gun purchase.

"I remember thinking to myself that I didn't notice a change in his behavior," Kestan said.

"The first ten minutes he was incredibly charming and charismatic and friendly," she said. "After he had smoked, he was the same charming person."

Kestan also testified that she saw him smoking crack in Malibu as late as Sept. 20, 2018 -- a timeline that could undercut the defense's argument that he was abusing alcohol and not drugs when he purchased the gun on Oct. 12.

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, joined by his his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, arrive to the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 5, 2024 in Wilmington, Del.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

But Kestan also conceded on cross-examination that she had "no idea" what Hunter Biden was up to from Sept. 23, when he left California, until November, when the two reconnected.

"So you don't have any idea of what he was doing from the moment he left California to the moment you saw him again in November?" Lowell asked.

"No idea," Kestan said.

Clerk says he watched Hunter Biden fill out form

Gordon Cleveland, the gun store employee who sold Hunter Biden the gun in question, testified that he watched from "about two feet" away as Hunter Biden filled out the form that asked applicants whether they were active drug users.

After Biden selected the Colt Cobra for purchase, Cleveland said he asked him to fill out the form required for "every gun purchase" -- Form 4473. Cleveland said he instructed Biden to write in his personal information and answer the questions below, "and to take your time answering them," he testified.

Cleveland testified that he watched as Hunter Biden answered several questions before he approached the drug-related question then marked the box with an "X."

Cleveland said Hunter Biden did not express any confusion regarding the question.

Ex-wife testifies she saw drug remnants

Hunter Biden's ex-wife Kathleen Buhle testified about Hunter Biden's alcohol and drug abuse during their 25-year marriage, describing how their relationship deteriorated as her husband's drug abuse increased.

When Hunter Biden was on crack, Buhle testified, "He was not himself."

"He was angry, short-tempered, acting in ways he wouldn't when he was sober," she said.

Buhle said she would find drug "remnants in little bags" and drug paraphernalia like "a broken crack pipe" -- often enough that she would search his car before allowing her daughters to use it.

Buhle admitted during cross-examination that she never personally saw Hunter Biden use drugs.

Government could rest as soon as Thursday

Prosecutor Derek Hines said before court concluded for the day that he anticipated resting his case as soon as the end of the day Thursday.

He said the government has six brief witnesses remaining -- including several law enforcement officials and Hallie Biden, the widow of Beau Biden.

Lowell said he would be prepared to call his first witness on Friday morning if the government rests its case Thursday.

Gordon Cleveland is scheduled to return to the stand on Thursday morning when testimony resumes.

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