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Hunter Biden trial enters day 4 after wild testimony from exes on rampant drug use, trashed hotel rooms

Day three of Hunter Biden's criminal trial included testimony from Biden's ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle; ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan; and gun shop employee Gordon Cleveland.

WILMINGTON, DEL. — Details about Hunter Biden’s relationship with a 24-year-old stripper, his need for crack cocaine every 20 minutes and how his spiraling addiction torpedoed his first marriage were on full display for the jury as it considers the first son’s three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018.

"He would want to smoke the second he woke up," Biden's ex-girlfriend, Zoe Kestan, testified Wednesday. She met Biden when she worked at a gentleman’s club in New York City when she was 24 and he was 48.

The court heard continued testimony from FBI special agent Erika Jensen Wednesday and from Biden’s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, Kestan and gun shop employee Gordon Cleveland, as prosecutors worked to prove to the jury Biden lied about his drug addiction when he filled out a federal form to buy a Colt revolver gun in 2018. 

Biden is facing charges of making a false statement in the purchase of a gun, making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federally-licensed gun dealer and possession of a gun by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance. 

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Biden pleaded not guilty in the case. 

The total maximum prison time for the three charges could be up to 25 years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. 

Kestan detailed in her testimony that she met Biden in December 2017 after he booked a private room for 30 minutes at the strip club where she worked, ultimately sparking a relationship with the man she described as "charming and charismatic." 

Kestan, who testified under immunity, walked the jury through Biden’s rampant drug abuse throughout the course of their relationship, including him smoking crack in hotel rooms, stealing away to public bathrooms to smoke crack and even how she helped pick up drugs for him. She said the crack cocaine he purchased often was the size of a "ping pong ball," which he broke into pieces and lit up in glass pipes. 

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Kestan described to the court that Biden was a "super charming" man when she first met him and that she was "confused" how he was able to appear coherent and cognizant after smoking the hard drug. 

"I didn’t notice it. Sometimes I think that’s because I was catching feelings for him," she told the court. 

Kestan said their whirlwind relationship was a "distraction" for Biden, as he allegedly smoked less with her when they were hidden away, sometimes for days at a time, in ritzy hotel rooms such as New York City’s Four Seasons location or in a bungalow at Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmont. 

Kestan wore a colorful scarf while detailing to the court the rise and fall of their relationship, including how he called on her to clean up one of the trashed hotel rooms that was littered with crack residue, pipes, snacks and alcohol and asking her to pick up his car after it was towed in Los Angeles in 2018. 

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Accompanying Kestan’s testimony were photos depicting crack pipes in hotel rooms often sitting next to bottles of liquor or beer, a photo of a bare-chested Biden in a bubble bath with Kestan and a screenshot of a FaceTime video showing Biden’s back tattoo that resembled claw marks. The jurors were told amid Kestan’s remarks that Biden learned how to cook crack cocaine and were shown a photo of baking soda in one hotel room used to cook cocaine into crack. 

Kestan said Biden often spoke about how he was an addict and wished to get sober, including his attempt to purge his body of drugs with frog venom called "kambo." 

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Though Kestan knew Biden before and after the purchase of the Colt revolver in October 2018, the pair did not speak the month of the purchase, rekindling their relationship in November 2018 before it officially ended. 

Hunter’s ex-wife of more than 20 years, Kathleen Buhle, with whom he shares three daughters, also took the stand Wednesday. Buhle and Biden divorced in 2017, after Buhle found a crack pipe on the side porch of their home in Washington, D.C., in 2015, she told the court. 

Buhle was soft-spoken and appeared emotional during her testimony as she detailed her suspicions of his rampant drug use after he was discharged from the Navy Reserves for testing positive for cocaine and the subsequent death of their marriage. 

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"I was definitely worried, scared," she said, describing how she would scour his car for drugs and drug paraphernalia to ensure their daughters would not drive the vehicle around with the substances. 

Buhle said following the discovery of a crack pipe at their home in 2015, they participated in couple’s therapy before the marriage ended. Buhle said she does not remember the date they officially terminated their marriage, only saying it occurred on Good Friday of 2017. 

Buhle was on the stand the shortest amount of time among witnesses and deeply exhaled as she quickly left the courtroom Wednesday morning. 

Jurors were apparently rapt by Buhle’s presence in the court following relatively dry continued testimony from Jensen, who discussed Wells Fargo bank records early Wednesday morning. Nearly all the jurors were jotting down notes or at least holding their notepads and pens when Buhle first took the stand. 

Following testimony from Hunter’s ex-wife and ex-girlfriend, prosecutors next called on Gordon T. Cleveland, the gun shop employee who sold Biden the revolver in October 2018. 

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Cleveland, who previously worked as a salesman at StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply in Wilmington, detailed to the court the sequence of purchase events on Oct. 12, 2018, down to the detail of Biden driving a black Cadillac the day of the purchase. 

"I like guns, and I like cars," Cleveland told the court when asked how he remembers what Biden was driving. The comment elicited chuckles among the jury, members of the media and others in the courtroom. 

Cleveland said Biden entered the store late in the afternoon in 2018 with the intention of buying a gun. Biden bought a Cobra Colt .38; a box of ammunition; a speed loader for the gun, a device that more quickly loads ammunition; and a BB gun. 

Cleveland said he gave Biden a federal gun form to fill out, explaining he instructed him to take his time and answer the form "truthfully." Cleveland said he was about two feet from Biden as he filled out the form, including question 11 E, which asked whether he was an unlawful user of or addicted to drugs. Biden checked the box that said he was not addicted to drugs. 

Cleveland laughed when defense attorney Abbe Lowell asked if he was "familiar with the phrase whale hunter?"

"Yes," he responded, chuckling, before arguing that though he "didn’t do up-sales," he was able to sell expensive guns to customers, such as two Desert Eagles in a single day.

When asked if Cleveland often sold ammunition along with a gun sale, the court again broke into laughter over the former salesman’s response. 

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​​"What are you gonna do? Throw [a gun] at somebody?" he quipped, noting ammo was often sold alongside a gun. 

In opening arguments on Tuesday, the defense team argued Biden's gun purchase was hurried by gun shop employees seeking to make a sale. Cleveland, however, was confident in his responses to Lowell Wednesday that Biden was the one to ultimately choose the Colt revolver, the ammo and speed loader. The purchase of the BB gun, he said, was a decision solely made by Biden. The BB gun is one that had the appearance of an actual handgun, lacking the traditional orange tip found on most other BB guns. 

Jurors were shown the gun, box of ammunition and speed loader in court Wednesday. 

Biden was joined by stepmother Jill Biden for the third day. She again took a front-row seat behind the first son. She wore a bright pink suit and matching heels, casually chatting with family members and allies throughout the day, but she sat quietly with her legs crossed and hands clasped over her knees. She was again seated next to Biden’s second wife, Melissa Cohen Biden. 

Court resumes Thursday at 9 a.m. with continued cross-examination of Cleveland. Prosecutors announced late Wednesday they have six additional witnesses who will take the stand and could rest their case as soon as Thursday afternoon. 

Biden’s former romantic partner and sister-in-law, Hallie Biden, Beau Biden’s widow, could be among witnesses who take the stand Thursday. 

The defense team’s witnesses will take the stand after prosecutors rest their case. 

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