Hunter Biden’s daughter, Naomi Biden, testifies at his gun trial

Hunter Biden’s defense team called Naomi Biden, his daughter with ex-wife Kathleen Buehl, to testify Friday at his trial on charges related to his October 2018 purchase of a firearm. Much of the questioning focused on a trip Hunter Biden took to New York to exchange cars with his daughter, who had borrowed his truck for a few days during the window of time in October that Hunter Biden was in possession of the firearm.

Over the weekend or on Monday morning, Hunter Biden’s lawyers will reveal whether he’ll take the stand in his own defense. President Biden’s brother, James “Jimmy” Biden was expected to testify Friday, but the court adjourned earlier than expected. If Hunter Biden testifies, prosecutors indicated they may call an additional witness. 

Naomi Biden testifies

Hunter Biden’s lawyers asked Naomi Biden about her interactions with her father in August and October 2018. Naomi Biden, who is also a lawyer, testified about seeing her father in Los Angeles in August 2018, after not having seen him for an extended period of time. She said she and her boyfriend Peter Neal, who is now her husband, drove from Wyoming to see her father while he was in rehab for drug addiction. They met at the end of August in a coffee shop with his sober coach for lunch. 

“He seemed like the clearest that I had seen him since my uncle died,” she said. “I told him that I was so proud of him and I was so proud to introduce Peter to him.” 

She later described an interaction with him in mid-October 2018 in New York, when they exchanged Hunter Biden’s truck for the Cadillac that belonged to her grandfather, Joe Biden, who was then the former vice president. Hallie Biden, who was romantically involved with Hunter Biden at the time, testified that she found the gun in his truck and discarded it on Oct. 23 — 11 days after he bought it. The messages exchanged between Naomi Biden and her father related to the car exchange in New York took place over three days, between Oct. 17-19, during the period when he had the gun in his possession.

Naomi Biden and Neal had borrowed Hunter Biden’s truck to help Neal move his belongings from Washington, D.C., so that he could join her in New York. Naomi Biden said the truck was in “good condition,” with no drug paraphernalia, and her father seemed great at that time. 

But under cross examination by prosecutor Leo Wise, Naomi Biden conceded, “Yes, I knew that he was struggling with addiction,” but said he never used illegal drugs in front of her. “After my Uncle (Beau Biden) died, things got bad.” She acknowledged that she had never observed what her father looked like when he was using drugs. 

Naomi Biden began speaking more and more softly as the cross examination continued, but she maintained her composure, even when she was asked to review her text messages with her father from Oct. 18, 2018. Wise focused on this visit to try to establish that Hunter Biden was still an addict and the drug paraphernalia later found in the truck belonged to him.

There were text messages coming from Hunter Biden late at night, and their schedules made it difficult for the two to meet, in part, Naomi Biden said later, because she had a law internship in Brooklyn. Wise read one text from Naomi Biden that said in part, “I just want to hang out with you.” Hunter Biden allegedly replied with an apology for being unreachable. “I’m sorry, I have been so unreachable, it’s not fair to you,” he wrote at about 10:30 p.m. on the evening of Oct. 18.

Wise pressed her on whether she knew that at that time her father was meeting someone named Frankie (an alleged drug dealer) that night at his hotel and had given him access to his Wells Fargo account. She repeatedly replied, “No.” 

During these exchanges, at times Hunter Biden leaned forward on the defense table, his eyes on his daughter with his hand covering his mouth. The mood in the Biden family section where the first lady and other members of the Biden family were seated was notably tense during Naomi Biden’s testimony. 

Hunter Biden wipes away a tear during daughter Naomi Biden’s testimony in his gun possession trial, Friday, June 7, 2024. Sketch by William J. Hennessy, Jr.

When Naomi Biden was excused, she hugged her father and they exchanged a kiss on the cheek before she walked out. Once court adjourned for lunch, Hunter Biden reached for Jill Biden as he exited, taking her hand. She was walking slowly, letting go as he moved ahead. 

Before Naomi Biden’s testimony, Jason Turner, a former employee of StarQuest Shooters, and Ron Palmieri, the owner of the gun store, were the defense’s first two witnesses. Turner testified about the gun sale and background check for Hunter Biden’s gun purchase, and he acknowledged that he had added the supplemental ID information; it was shown in a court exhibit. Palmieri testified that he had approved the passport used as ID for the purchase and never interacted with Hunter Biden during the sale.

The prosecution’s last two witnesses Friday morning were a chemist for the FBI and a DEA agent. 

Dr. Jason Brewer testified that he identified a “minimal amount” of cocaine from his analysis of the white residual powder on the leather pouch that was recovered with the gun. He said he wasn’t authorized to test for fingerprints or the residue origins. During cross examination by David Kolansky, the defense pointed to the timing of the forensic analysis — five years after its initial recovery by law enforcement.

DEA supervisory agent Joshua Romig decoded some of the language in Hunter Biden’s 2018-2019 text messages, in which he referenced “baby powder,” “soft stuff” and “party favor.” Romig said all of these terms referenced some form of cocaine. 

He testified on the origins, transport and distribution of cocaine and analyzed some of the drug paraphernalia, scales and measurements depicted in photos in Biden’s text messages. During cross examination, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, again focused on timing, noting that texts and images referenced by the prosecution were exchanged before and after the October purchase of the firearm. Romig noted the exception of one October text in which Hunter Biden explicitly mentioned he was smoking crack cocaine.

What are the charges against Hunter Biden?

Hunter Biden is charged with three felonies stemming from his purchase of a revolver in October 2018. Two of the charges are related to accusations that he made false statements on a federal gun form about his drug use, certifying he was not a user of or addicted to any controlled substance during a period when prosecutors allege he was addicted to crack cocaine. 

The other charge is for allegedly owning the gun unlawfully, possessing the gun for 11 days before Hallie Biden found and discarded the weapon. Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Hallie Biden, who is also the widow of Beau Biden, Hunter Biden’s brother, testified Thursday that she “panicked” when she found the gun, saying it was “stupid” but she was worried one of the children would find it. 

She told the court she discovered it when she was clearing out his car, which she often searched for drugs and alcohol. Prosecutors introduced parking lot surveillance footage that showed her driving into a grocery store parking lot and tossing the gun into a dumpster, followed by another clip showing her returning to the store to search for the gun.

While Hunter Biden’s history of drug addiction is well known — he wrote about it in his memoir, “Beautiful Things” — Lowell has sought to raise questions about whether he knowingly omitted the information from the disclosure form. In his opening statement, Lowell said that many addicts are in “denial” about their drug use, and he also argued that Hunter Biden did not consider himself to be an addict when he purchased the gun.

Prosecutors showed texts Thursday between Hunter Biden and Hallie Biden from Oct. 2018 — when he allegedly bought the gun — where Hunter Biden said he was “buying,” as well as another in which she said her son was sitting near a “stem,” or crack pipe, in her house. 

Hallie Biden also told the court that Hunter Biden introduced her to crack cocaine during the time they were romantically involved. 

“It was a terrible experience that I went through and I’m embarrassed and ashamed, and I regret that period of my life,” she said. 

ABC News’ David Muir asked President Biden in an interview on Thursday if he would rule out pardoning his son if he is convicted. Mr. Biden responded, “Yes.” 

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