Hunter Biden’s gun trial nearing its end

Plus: Washington Post in turmoil over leadership shakeup

Hunter Biden arrives for his trial at the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 07, 2024 in Wilmington, Delaware (Getty Images)
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The gun trial for Hunter Biden will likely wrap up early next week as the prosecution rested its case on Friday. The defense expects to call about two to three witnesses, including an employee of the gun store at which Hunter purchased a firearm while allegedly being an active drug abuser, Hunter’s uncle James Biden and Hunter’s daughter Naomi Biden.Naomi took the stand Friday afternoon and testified that her father seemed “hopeful” in October 2018, the month he purchased the gun, and that she did not personally observe any drug paraphernalia or other signs of abuse in her father’s car….

The gun trial for Hunter Biden will likely wrap up early next week as the prosecution rested its case on Friday. The defense expects to call about two to three witnesses, including an employee of the gun store at which Hunter purchased a firearm while allegedly being an active drug abuser, Hunter’s uncle James Biden and Hunter’s daughter Naomi Biden.

Naomi took the stand Friday afternoon and testified that her father seemed “hopeful” in October 2018, the month he purchased the gun, and that she did not personally observe any drug paraphernalia or other signs of abuse in her father’s car. She had previously visited Hunter at a rehab facility in the summer of 2018 and told him she was “proud” of him. Under cross, the prosecution got Naomi to admit she had never seen her father use drugs and would not be able to tell whether or not he was actively using. 

However, Naomi’s testimony stands in stark contrast to witnesses brought forth by the prosecution, which aims to prove that Hunter is guilty on three federal charges related to firearm possession while using narcotics. A DEA agent testified to the “coded language” Hunter used in text messages to refer to drugs around the time he purchased the firearm, including “baby powder,” “party favor,” “Fenten” and “chore boy.” Hunter also texted in October 2018 that he was lying on top of a car “smoking crack.” There was also cocaine residue found in the leather pouch where Hunter stored the gun, according to a forensic chemist. 

Hunter’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, testified that she would often search his car for drugs after she discovered he was addicted to crack. Hunter’s sister-in-law turned affair partner, Hallie Biden, revealed that she found drug remnants and paraphernalia in Hunter’s truck at the same time she discovered the firearm in October 2018.  

The star of the trial, at least on social media, was gentleman’s club dancer Zoe Kestan. She said she met Hunter in December 2017 when he booked her and another woman for a private dance, during which he played the band Fleet Foxes on his phone and smoked crack. Kestan said she found Hunter “charming” even though he smoked crack “every twenty minutes or so,” and stated that there was not a noticeable difference in Hunter’s behavior when he was high. The pair had numerous encounters after their initial meeting, with Kestan saying, “I felt really safe around him.”

Initial reports from the trial seem to suggest that few witnesses have faced the kind of badgering that took place at Trump’s criminal trial in New York, with the exception of a gun store employee who Hunter’s attorney Abbe Lowell tried to pin down on the timeframe between when Hunter filled out a background check form and when the gun purchase was complete. “You’re trying to set a time frame — that’s not gonna happen,” the employee said, adding that the sixteen-minute gap came from him filling out the rest of the form: “I write slow.” 

The employee also accused the defense team of being a “mess” that “can’t be on time for nothing.” 

-Amber Duke

On our radar

NAACP’S WARNING TO BIDEN The NAACP urged President Joe Biden to pause sending weapons to Israel to aid in its war in Gaza as progressive pollsters claim Biden’s position on the war is alienating black voters. 

SILICON RALLY Former president Donald Trump reportedly raised north of $12 million at a San Francisco event for techies. Tech entrepreneur David Sacks hosted the event at his $20 million home.  

OUT OF COURT The 2023 financial disclosures of eight out of nine Supreme Court justices were released this week; Clarence Thomas disclosed two 2019 trips paid for by billionaire Harlan Crow. Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown-Jackson all reported six-figure earnings from book deals, and Jackson said Beyoncé gifted her $4,000 worth of concert tickets. 

Washington Post dying in dishonesty? 

Things have gotten fiery but mostly peaceful at the Washington Post’s headquarters following the abrupt ouster of executive editor Sally Buzbee on Sunday.

“It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it, truly,” one staffer said Thursday, noting that WaPo’s previous “rough patches” have never led to anything resembling the current chaos.

Staffers were furious that the paper’s publisher, Will Lewis, brought in a Wall Street Journal editor to oversee the newsroom until the November election. They demanded to know the reasons for Buzbee’s departure in a town hall with Lewis. Lewis told them, in short, that he couldn’t sugarcoat things anymore — the paper could no longer go on hemorrhaging money and losing subscribers. 

Reports this week put an even bigger flame under the newsroom. Weeks before Buzbee’s ouster, Lewis allegedly had pressured her to refrain from publishing a story that described his alleged involvement in the UK phone hacking scandal. The scandal had consistently been described as a Rupert Murdoch-headed “right-wing media” project. It involved lots of unethical practices, including the hacking of Prince Harry’s phone.

Lewis called the reports “inaccurate” and denied pressuring Buzbee in any way. He said the story went through the normal editorial process and he merely offered standard input. 

Whom are we to believe? Democracy dies in darkness, but dishonesty thrives in it. 

Juan P. Villasmil

Clooney’s White House relationship Up in the Air 

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, one new casualty may be George Clooney’s relationship with the White House. Following the unprecedented arrest warrants sought by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court for Israeli orime minister Benjamin Netanyanu, his defense minister and the terrorist leadership of Hamas, the actor called in to express his disappointment that President Joe Biden dubbed the warrants “outrageous.”

Clooney’s rationale? His wife may be harmed. Amal Clooney, while far less well-known than her silver fox of a husband, worked on the arrest warrants of Netanyahu. Were the United States to follow through on sanctions against the ICC, she may be targeted. Fortunately for her, the White House currently opposes a Republican-led bipartisan bill that would sanction the ICC.

This is all immensely awkward for Biden and Clooney, who donated over half a million dollars to Biden campaign entities in 2020 — and who remains slated to co-host a fundraiser with the president later this month. It is unclear if Amal Clooney will be joining her husband and the president who sometimes sounds willing to sanction her at this upcoming event.

Cockburn