The ex, the wife and the widow: Who’s who in the Hunter Biden trial

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, is on trial for three federal gun-related charges after he allegedly unlawfully obtained a firearm in October 2018.

The trial began on Monday at the federal courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware where a cast of characters testified about Hunter’s prior drug use and possession of the firearm.

Prosecutors allege that he lied on a federal gun form by stating that he was not addicted to, or using, crack cocaine at the time of the firearm purchase. Defense attorneys say the government must prove their client was actively using drugs or addicted when he purchased the gun.

Among those testifying are three of Hunter’s former romantic partners: his ex-wife; his ex-girlfriend; and his sister-in-law-turned-lover.

Hunter Biden

The defendant

Hunter Biden, the defendant
Hunter Biden, the defendant (Getty Images)

Robert “Hunter” Biden, 54, is the defendant in the case. He is accused of lying on a federal gun form in 2018 to obtain a firearm while addicted to crack cocaine and then unlawfully possessing that gun.

Hunter has pleaded not guilty to three counts.

Throughout his life, Hunter has dealt with alcohol and drug abuse, which he publicly documented in his memoir Beautiful Things. But between 2015 and 2019, he became addicted to crack cocaine, a fact that has become a pawn for political opponents to launch attacks on the Bidens.

Though Hunter had periods of sobriety, prosecutors say he lied about his addiction when obtaining the firearm from a Wilmington gun shop. In the US, it is illegal for an “unlawful user” of drugs to possess a firearm.

Kathleen Buhle

The ex-wife

Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife
Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife (Getty Images)

Kathleen Buhle, 55, is a nonprofit executive and Hunter’s ex-wife. She was called to testify in the trial under subpoena.

Buhle was married to Hunter for 24 years from 1993 until their divorce in 2017, though they separated in 2015 due to infidelity. The couple has three daughters: Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy.

She testified that she discovered Hunter was using drugs in 2015 after finding drug paraphernalia at their home.

Zoe Kestan

The ex-girlfriend

Zoe Kestan, Hunter Biden’s ex-girlfriend
Zoe Kestan, Hunter Biden’s ex-girlfriend (Getty Images)

Zoe Kestan, 30, is Hunter’s ex-girlfriend. They briefly dated between 2017 and 2018.

The pair met while she was a dancer at a gentleman’s club in New York City in 2017. Kestan said that she was immediately taken with Hunter, finding him “charming.”

At the time, Kestan was 24 and Hunter was 48.

Kestan witnessed Hunter use crack cocaine often, sometimes “every 20 minutes or so”, she said. She also testified that she helped Hunter obtain drugs by accompanying him on deals, or taking money out of an ATM for him.

She testified under immunity.

Hallie Biden

The former lover

Hallie Biden, Beau Biden’s widow and Hunter’s former girlfriend
Hallie Biden, Beau Biden’s widow and Hunter’s former girlfriend (Getty Images)

Hallie Biden, 50, is Hunter’s sister-in-law and ex-girlfriend. She was married to Hunter’s brother, Beau Biden, from 2002 until his death in 2015.

Hunter and Hallie began dating after Beau died and continued their relationship until 2019.

Hallie is a key witness for the prosecution because she saw Hunter use drugs from 2015 until 2018, and found the gun he purchased. She eventually threw away the gun in a grocery store garbage can out of fear Hunter or her children would hurt themselves using it.

Some of the prosecution’s key evidence about Hunter’s drug use in October 2018 is from text messages between Hallie and Hunter.

Hallie witnessed Hunter using drugs on several occasions and accompanied him to drug deals. She told jurors she also used crack cocaine after Hunter introduced her to it.

She testified under immunity.

The attorneys

David Weiss

The special counsel

David Weiss, the special counsel
David Weiss, the special counsel (Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office )

Special counsel David Weiss, 68, is the federal prosecutor who investigated and brought charges against Hunter.

Weiss has been overseeing the probe into Hunter’s financial and business dealings since 2020. In August 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland named him special counsel to the case.

Weiss initially struck a plea deal with Hunter’s attorneys that would resolve a felony gun charge if Hunter pleaded guilty to two tax misdemeanors. However, the deal fell through at the 11th hour.

Derek Hines

The prosecutor

Derek Hines, the federal prosecutor
Derek Hines, the federal prosecutor (WCNC)

Derek Hines, is a senior assistant to special counsel David Weiss.

He is one of the lead prosecutors for the government’s case against Hunter. Hines delivered opening statements in the trial, telling jurors: “Nobody is above the law.”

Leo Wise

The prosecutor

Leo Wise, a prosecutor
Leo Wise, a prosecutor (Getty Images)

Leo Wise is one of the lead prosecutors for the government in the trial.

Wise has a reputation for pursuing charges against powerful figures and has spent much of his career in Baltimore, Maryland doing that.

Abbe Lowell

The defense attorney

Abbe Lowell, the defense attorney
Abbe Lowell, the defense attorney (Getty Images)

Abbe Lowell, 72, is a notable criminal defense attorney defending Hunter at his trial.

Lowell has decades of experience defending high-profile clients including politicians like John Edwards and Bob Menendez, along with Jared Kushner and Charles Keating.

He previously worked in the Justice Department and was chief minority counsel to Democrats in the House of Representatives during Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

Maryellen Noreika

The Judge

Judge Maryellen Noreika
Judge Maryellen Noreika (US District Court for Delaware )

District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, 57, is presiding over the case in Wilmington.

She was assigned to the case in June 2023 and quickly struck down the plea deal Hunter had made with prosecutors.

Judge Noreika was appointed by Trump in 2017. She serves as one of the four judges for Delaware’s single-federal district court.

Prior to her nomination and appointment, she practiced corporate and commercial law in Wilmington, focusing on intellectual property law.

Other witnesses

Gordon Cleveland

The gun salesman

Gordon Cleveland, the man who sold Hunter Biden a gun
Gordon Cleveland, the man who sold Hunter Biden a gun (Getty Images)

Gordon Cleveland is a former gun store salesman who sold Hunter the firearm in October 2018.

Cleveland worked at StarQuest Shooters and Survival Supply, a store in Wilmington, at the time. He was known for his ability to sell expensive guns to customers, something the prosecution believes contributed to Hunter’s purchase.

He ultimately watched Hunter fill out the gun form and testified Hunter had no hesitation marking “no” under the question that asks if a person is an unlawful user or addicted to illegal drugs.

Erika Jensen

The FBI agent

Erika Jensen is an FBI agent with 20 years experience who was assigned to oversee the case against Hunter.

Jensen collected evidence of Hunter’s drug use through his memoir and data she found on his laptop like photos, messages, videos and more.

She was the first person to testify in the trial.

James Biden

The uncle

James Biden, brother of Joe Biden
James Biden, brother of Joe Biden (Getty Images)

James Biden, 75, is the brother of Joe Biden and uncle of Hunter. He has a close relationship with Hunter and helped him attend rehab.

He is a witness for the defense.

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