Takeaways from Day 3 of the Hunter Biden gun trial

The third day of the Hunter Biden trial saw his ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend testify in vivid detail about his drug addiction.

Also introduced as evidence Wednesday was the gun Biden bought in October 2018 that’s at the center of the charges against him. The salesman who sold Biden the gun testified that he saw him fill out the federal form on which he’s accused of falsely claiming he wasn’t using drugs.

As the day wrapped up, prosecut ors announced that they have a half-dozen “shorter” witnesses remaining and might be prepared to rest their case as soon as Thursday afternoon. After that, Biden’s defense lawyers can put on a case if they want to.

Here’s what to know from Day 3:

A tale of two exes

When Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, who prosecutors subpoenaed to testify, took the witness stand, members of the jury sat up straight in their seats, leaned in and started tuning in. But Buhle’s brief, staccato answers and subdued tone didn’t seem to pull in the jurors.

Buhle told the jury that in 2018, she found drug paraphernalia in Hunter’s car, which she checked occasionally because she wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything illegal in the vehicle “when my daughters would use his car.” However, Buhle couldn’t pinpoint exactly when in 2018 she found paraphernalia in Hunter’s car.

Zoe Kestan, another one of Hunter’s former romantic partners, proved to be a much more captivating witness for the jury. She described months of partying, clubbing and helping him score drugs from California to Rhode Island.

Biden also gave her a brief wave when she identified him in court.

Hunter Biden waves as his ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan testifies in court on Wednesday. - Bill Hennessy
Hunter Biden waves as his ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan testifies in court on Wednesday. - Bill Hennessy

Her delivery was animated, and she volunteered interesting details in her answers, sprinkling in the names of upscale restaurants that they dined at in New York City and which fancy hotels they stayed at in Los Angeles. It seemed like some of the jurors were hanging on every word she said.

More importantly for the prosecutors’ case, Kestan provided direct eyewitness testimony of Hunter Biden doing drugs as late as mid-September 2018, several weeks before he bought the gun. She said she watched him smoking crack during one of their liaisons in Malibu. This is the closest that prosecutors have come so far to connecting the timeline of Hunter’s drug use to his gun purchase.

The ‘whale hunter’

The salesman who sold Hunter the gun, Gordon Cleveland, testified as a prosecution witness and told the jury that he watched Hunter Biden mark “no” on the question of whether he was a user of illegal drugs.

That is essential testimony for the special counsel. Counts 1 and 2 of the three-count felony indictment are tied directly to Hunter’s alleged false statement on that form about his drug use.

Later, when he was cross-examined by Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell, Cleveland embraced his reputation as a “whale hunter,” chuckling when Lowell brought up the term and bragging about his ability to close deals for pricey guns.

Lowell is pursuing this line of inquiry because in opening statements he told the jury that Cleveland essentially peddled the gun to Biden.

“I could sell whatever you had. It’s just what I did,” Cleveland said, explaining why his colleagues called him a whale hunter. This included attempts to push his customers to buy more expensive guns, he conceded.

But Cleveland said he did that because the pricier guns are more reliable and high quality and wouldn’t try to sell “junk” to customers. He “was making the same pay” if someone was buying a gun or not.

More embarrassing Hunter photos

Pictures of a hotel room that Hunter Biden shared with Kestan in 2018 were shown to the jury. Kestan pointed out several crack pipes, one of which was broken, as well as baking powder, spoons, bowls and chop sticks – all used for the drugs he was taking and the cocaine he was cooking into crack, she testified.

Prosecutors showed a photo of Hunter Biden wearing a shirt that said “ADDICTED,” with an Adidas logo that was made to look like a marijuana plant.

“I thought that was funny because he didn’t smoke weed,” Kestan said.

Another image shown to the jury was of Hunter Biden in a bathtub holding what Kestan said was a crackpipe.

What’s next?

In opening statements, prosecutors signaled a specific order for their expected witnesses, and they suggested that after Buhle and Kestan testified, they’d put Hallie Biden, the widow of Beau Biden, on the stand.

However, after Kestan finished, prosecutors moved on to Gordon, to testify about the gun sale.

It’s not clear what may have motivated the potential order adjustment, and it’s still expected that Hallie will testify, perhaps on Thursday, as prosecutors wind down their case.

But there was high anticipation for Hallie’s testimony on Wednesday. After all, she represents Biden family drama – after losing Beau to brain cancer in 2015, she started dating his brother Hunter, who “introduced” her to crack cocaine, which she later started using herself.

In addition to Hallie Biden, prosecutors are aiming to present testimony from several federal agents, including DEA officials who can describe various drug lingo that came up in Hunter Biden’s texts.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s Macayla Cook, Paula Reid and Evan Perez contributed to this report.

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