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June 14, 2024

Prosecution likely to rest after forensic chemist and DEA agent testify in Hunter Biden trial

Prosecution likely to rest after forensic chemist and DEA agent testify in Hunter Biden trial

Hunter Biden’s defense to decide on last witness over the weekend

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Hunter Biden’s defense team is not going to call James Biden or any experts after all.

His legal team is going to make a decision on the “last witness” over the weekend. The last potential witness they’re deciding over is believed to be Hunter Biden himself.

The prosecution is going to decide on whether they put on a rebuttal case, after they find out about the defense’s remaining witness.

Jury has been dismissed early for the weekend

The jury has been dismissed for the weekend, but it’s unclear why.

Naomi Biden said she’s never used drugs

Sydney CarruthSydney Carruth is a digital assistant for NBC News.

Before Naomi Biden left the stand, Leo Wise asked her whether she had seen any drug paraphernalia or remnants in her father’s Ford Raptor when she borrowed the vehicle in October.

“No,” Biden said. Wise asked Naomi if she put any drug paraphernalia in the truck herself, to which she responded “no” in a hushed voice.

The prosecutor then asked Naomi if she herself had ever used drugs.

“No,” she said.

During Naomi’s testimony, her grandmother, first lady Jill Biden, appeared very uncomfortable.

Naomi Biden leaves court today.Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

Naomi Biden hugs father after she provides testimony

Naomi Biden hugged her father as she walked past the defense table when the court broke for lunch, but it was a quick hug — not the regular big Biden family embraces we’ve been seeing up until now.

She appeared to wipe away a tear as she walked down the aisle of the courtroom toward the door with her husband. In the hallway she wore big sunglasses — at one point she exchanged a hug with a family friend before getting into the elevator with her husband, Peter.

Normally, when the court goes to break, there are big hugs, fist bumps, high fives and laughter among the Biden family and supporters as they stand up and leave the courtroom. Following Naomi Biden’s testimony, this was the first time they didn’t do that. Everyone was seemingly silent, many with their arms crossed, and walked out with serious faces.

Hunter Biden apologized to daughter by text that he was so unreachable


Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

On the afternoon of Oct. 18, Naomi Biden told her father that she was in Brooklyn, but Peter could bring the car to him to swap. She also texted her dad asking if she would see him before he left and added a sad face emoji, according to prosecutor Leo Wise. 

“I’m really sorry dad, I can’t take this. I don’t know what to say. I just miss you and want to hang out with you,” she texted Hunter, according to Wise. 

“I’m sorry I’ve been so unreachable, it’s not fair to you,” Hunter replied, according to Wise. 

Asked if she knew why he was so unreachable, she said no.

Did he tell you he was meeting with someone named Frankie? Wise asked.

No, she said. 

Did he tell you he had given Frankie an access code to his Wells Fargo account, Wise asked.

No, she said.

Frankie is the name Zoe Kestan gave for a drug dealer that met Hunter at the Four Seasons hotel in New York while the two of them were staying there in the winter of 2018.

Prosecutor questions Naomi Biden about late-night texts with her father

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Prosecutor Leo Wise questioned Naomi Biden about text messages she exchanged with her dad around Oct. 17, 2018, about a trip he was taking to New York.

The messages were not entered into evidence, but were offered to refresh Naomi’s memory. Wise asked her if she remembered receiving a text from her dad shortly before midnight on Oct. 17 asking if she was awake.

She didn’t respond until much later, closer to 2 a.m., and said she had fallen asleep earlier. Hunter Biden then responded, asking if her now-husband, Peter, could bring the truck to 57th and 5th Ave. to swap cars. 

“That’s what the time stamp says, but I don’t recall it being that late,” she said about the messages. 

“Do you know what your father was doing at 2 o’clock in the morning and why he was asking for the car then?” Wise said.

“No,” Naomi said, adding that she didn’t remember any specific messages except that they exchanged cars with her dad and he “still seemed good and I was hopeful,” she said.

After Hunter Biden’s 2 a.m. text asking for the truck, Naomi Biden replied “right now?” he didn’t respond after that, Wise said.

Prosecutor questions Naomi Biden about father’s drug use

Prosecutor Leo Wise began cross-examination of Naomi Biden and asked when she first became aware that her dad was struggling with addiction.

“I knew that he was struggling with addiction,” she said, adding, “After my uncle died, things got bad,” a reference to Hunter’s older brother, Beau Biden.

Naomi Biden and her husband Peter Neal in 2023.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images file

Wise appeared to call into question whether Naomi Biden could definitively say whether her father was using drugs at any particular time, specifically in Oct. 2018.

She explained that in the broader time period that included that year, she understood that he was struggling with addiction.

“You never saw him where he was using?” Wise asked in several different ways before Naomi Biden eventually said, “No, I never saw him use.” 

Asked if she would recognize whether he was using or not, she said, “I don’t know.”

“When he was using, it’s fair to say you wouldn’t know what that looks like?” Wise said. 

“I guess … I guess not,” she answered.

Naomi Biden says her dad seemed ‘hopeful’ in October 2018

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

At some point at the end of October 2018, the month he bought the gun, Naomi Biden and her then-boyfriend took her dad’s truck (which was in D.C. at the time) up to New York where they were moving in together. At some point after that, her father drove up to New York to visit her and get the truck back. 

Naomi Biden testified that her dad seemed “hopeful” when she saw him in New York in October 2018, the month he bought the gun. After their visit they switched cars — Hunter Biden taking his truck back and his daughter keeping Joe Biden’s Cadillac. She testified that at the time she borrowed the truck, the interior was in good condition and wasn’t messy.

Lowell asked if there was any drug paraphernalia strewn about the Cadillac when she used it. “No,” she said. She said the car was in good condition, with no laundry or trash in the car.

After visiting her father in California, Naomi Biden says she sent him a text saying she was “so proud” of him and proud that she was able to introduce him to Peter. 

“As far as you know he went back to rehab after that?” Lowell asked. Yes, she said. 

Naomi Biden testifies about visiting her dad while he was in rehab


Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Naomi Biden testified that she visited her dad with her now-husband, Peter, in the summer of 2018 in Los Angeles while he was in rehab.

She met her dad at a coffee shop and they had lunch where they met his sober coach. Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell asked for the name of the rehab facility. She couldn’t immediately recall, prompting Lowell to ask if it was called The View. 

“Yeah, it was. Sorry, I’m nervous,” Naomi Biden said.

After visiting her father in California, Naomi said she sent him a text saying she was “so proud” of him and proud that she was able to introduce him to Peter.

Hunter Biden could be seen wiping away tears as his daughter testified, the most emotion he’s shown publicly throughout this trial. 

Naomi Biden, Hunter Biden’s eldest daughter, takes the stand

Hunter Biden’s eldest daughter, Naomi Biden, has taken the witness stand.

She began her testimony by introducing herself to the jury, including where she lives, her job, her education and her family. She’s the daughter of Hunter Biden and Kathleen Buhle, she said. Lowell asked if she had any siblings as well. 

“Two sisters, and a brother, who I love,” she said. She answers the questions quietly.

Gun store owner says he OK’d using passport as ID because he was ‘trying to not hold the sale up’

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

Ron Palimere is on the stand. He’s been the owner of Starquest Shooters for 12 years. His responsibilities, he’s testified, including general operations, sales, ordering of products. He never makes sales, he said. 

On Oct. 12, Palimere was in and out of the store. When Hunter Biden entered the store, Palimere testified that he was next store at another business that he owned at the time. 

“I was called over,” Palimere said. “Anytime there were certain celebrities, i’ll call them, they called me over.” 

When Palimere returned to the store, he went through the back door and did not see Hunter Biden at any point. He did interact with Jason Turner and Gordon Cleveland. Cleveland came back because there was a discussion of whether it was OK to use Hunter’s passport as a form of identification. “They asked if it was okay,” Palimere said. 

Palimere said he was trying to get the sale finished, and didn’t think much of his decision to allow the use of the passport. “I was trying to not hold the sale up.”

Witness appears frustrated with Hunter Biden’s lawyer

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Turner generally seemed annoyed during his time on the stand, frequently talking over Lowell and providing snarky responses to questions. 

Lowell then drilled down on a 16-minute gap between the time that Hunter Biden’s background check was completed and when the final sale was processed (time codes on the background check return and timecode on the sale receipt). 

“You’re trying to set a time frame — that’s not gonna happen,” Turner told Lowell, accusing the defense attorney of not understanding “how gun shop life is.” 

When Lowell asked him to walk through all of his actions after running the background check, Turner said he filled out the form with the rest of the information, which can only be filled out after the background check is run. 

“There’s your 16 minutes,” Turner said. “I write slow.” 

As Lowell continued to ask Turner to walk through the timeline of the sale, Turner grew frustrated at the repetitive questions and burst out: 

“I put on my ritual robes and went and sat in a marble room,” Turner said.

When the prosecution started its cross-examination, Leo Wise asked Turner to confirm he was there as a defense witness under a subpoena. Turner confirmed and said “that’s a whole mess of stuff right there,” complaining that the defense team couldn’t be on time for anything when Wise asked Turner if he had spoken to or met with the defense prior to today.

Turner also complained that he should be sleeping right now because he works nights.

Defense grills gun store employee about ATF form

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

As he questioned Turner, Lowell asked what alternate form of ID Hunter Biden provided to complete the background check (this was needed because passports don’t have a home address, which is required to complete the background check). Biden provided a car registration, Turner said. 

Lowell then highlighted a box on Biden’s completed 4473 form where any alternate form of ID provided is supposed to be entered. That box is blank. 

“When I wrote that out I wrote car registration,” Turner said. 

“Where is it?,” Lowell asked.

“It’s not there!,” an exasperated Turner said.

Employee of gun store who ran Hunter Biden’s background checks says seller gave him incomplete form

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

Jason Turner said that responsibilities at the gun store included being the “key holder,” running the NICS system and selling firearms. 

Turner did not realize Hunter Biden was in the store until the background check was brought to him in the back office of the store by Gordon Cleveland, who sold the gun.

When Cleveland brought Turner the paperwork, it was the ATF form that had yet to be signed by Hunter Biden, and a copy of Biden’s passport. 

Turner said he wouldn’t have logged into the NICS system unless he reviewed that the form was fully filled out first. When he saw it was not, he took the form and the passport copy back to the sales counter and explained to Gordon Cleveland what else was needed — “I told him he was missing supplemental ID and signature.” 

Turner testified that he never during this interaction spoke to Hunter Biden himself — only Gordon Cleveland. 

Naomi Biden arrives at court ahead of possible testimony

Alana Satlin

Naomi Biden, Hunter Biden’s eldest daughter, arrived at the courthouse with her husband, Peter Neal. She is expected to testify in her father’s defense.

She has spoken out in defense of her father before, calling him “a man filled with love, integrity, and human struggles” in a series of social media posts weeks before the 2020 election when his name was in the news.

“The pain he has endured would be enough to make a lesser man give up on life all together,” she said at the time. “But despite the best efforts of a cruel few to destroy a private man, he is sober, happy, and as at peace as ever today because as long his family needs him, he has not lost his purpose.”

Defense calls gun store employee who handled background check

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

The defense has called its first witness in Hunter Biden’s gun trial: Jason Turner, the Starquest Shooters employee who handled the background check portion of the ATF form.

He took the stand at 11:12 a.m. after an extended morning break. 

Hunter Biden lawyer makes motion for ‘judgment of acquittal’


After the prosecution rested, Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell made an oral motion for a “judgment of acquittal,” listing as his reasons that the charges were unconstitutional under the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms,

He listed three reasons why, including the unconstitutionality of charges, citing the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of the month on a challenge to federal gun laws that could ultimately undermine the statute under which Hunter Biden was charged.

James Biden, President Joe Biden’s brother, arrives at court

James Biden, uncle of Hunter Biden and brother of President Biden, has arrived at the courthouse.

Hunter Biden lawyer reveals defense’s first two witnesses

Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said the first witness he will call for the defense is Jason Turner, a onetime employee at the gun shop in Wilmington, Delaware, who was involved in selling Hunter the gun.

The second witness will be Ron Palimere, the owner of the shop, StarQuest Shooters and Survival Supply, Lowell said.

Prosecution rests

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

The prosecution has rested in Hunter Biden’s gun trial at 10:39 a.m. We are now taking a 15-minute break.

DEA agent acknowledges he’s not involved in this case

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell began his cross-examination of DEA agent Romig by telling him, “I’d like if I can in the time I’m here to talk about this case, and not generalities,” This was an apparent swipe at prosecutor Derek Hines for asking about generalities of drug use in America.

Romig said, “Nothing that I’ve reviewed would indicate” Hunter Biden was a distributor of drugs.

“I didn’t look into anybody in this investigation,” Romig added. “I did not do anything as a DEA agent” regarding this case. 

Prosecutor asks about Hunter Biden’s reference to the market rate for crack

Prosecutor Derek Hines asked about a message from Hunter Biden referring to $600 for 10 grams of crack cocaine being the market rate.

When Hunter Biden texted a picture of a white substance on a scale, saying “under any value known to any market in the world what I paid is 60% greater” he was “clearly upset that the amount is much less than he paid for,” Romig said.

The amount of $600 for 10 grams is “pretty significantly higher than the fair market value,” DEA agent Romig said, adding that sellers “100%” size up what buyers are willing to pay.

Romig also told the court that he’s been watching the proceedings from the overflow room and has been listening to the other prosecution witnesses who’ve testified about Hunter Biden’s drug use.

DEA agent testifies about coded language Hunter Biden used for drugs


Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Prosecutor Derek Hines had DEA agent Romig read through Hunter Biden’s messages that have been previously introduced as evidence to testify about coded language used during drug deals. 

When he texted about “baby powder” he was using a “rudimentary, pretty standard cocaine code,” said Romig.

What does “party favor” mean? “Generally drugs.”

Hines finished up with Romig by showing him various texts, photos and videos that we’ve seen in this trial. Romig identified crack pipes, crack cocaine and scales in photos and videos.

Romig has provided lots of explanation for the jury on drug terms and what exactly is in these photos. In one of the texts in evidence, the word “Fenten” comes up. Hines asked what that meant. Romig said it’s a reference to fentanyl, the “most dangerous drug in America today.”

Prosecutor asks DEA agent about the difference between crack and cocaine

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Prosecutor Derek Hines asked DEA agent Joshua Romig about the difference between crack and cocaine.

Crack is “a more easily smokeable form of cocaine,” Romig said, explaining that crack is actually more pure than powder cocaine because the cooking process removes any cutting agents that dealers may have added to increase the bulk of the cocaine. 

Prosecution calls DEA agent, likely its final witness, to the stand

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

After Brewer exited the stand, the prosecution called who it had indicated would be its final witness, Joshua Romig of the DEA. Romig said of his experience that drug investigations are “pretty much all I’ve done for the last quarte-century.”

He testified about his career of investigating drug cases, first for the Baltimore Police Department and now at the DEA. 

“We want to target the high-level drug traffickers” at the DEA, he said. 

Forensic chemist says lab tests were done years after gun incident

Defense lawyer David Kolansky conducted the cross-examination of Brewer. This was the first cross-examination that wasn’t done by Abbe Lowell.

Kolansky tried to convey two points in his cross-examination: There was a “minimal amount of residue” in the pouch, and that the first lab test was done in October 2023, five years after the initial incident and after charges had been filed in this case. Brewer confirmed that no tests had been done before October 2023, to his knowledge.

Kolansy asked, “You can’t date when the residue got there, or who put it there?”

“I cannot,” Brewer said.

Kolansky then discussed the chain of custody issues with this pouch. 

“It came in strictly for chemistry exams,” Brewer said of the pouch, admitting he did not do any DNA or fingerprint tests on the pouch. 

Brewer said he could not identify when the cocaine residue got into the pouch, who put it there or how long it had been there.

Forensic chemist says white powder on Hunter Biden’s pouch tested for cocaine

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Forensic chemist James Brewer testified that he found white powder in Hunter Biden’s pouch and that it tested positive for cocaine.

After Judge Noreika qualified Brewer as an expert witness, prosecutor Leo Wise handed him the brown leather pouch and asked him to confirm it was the one he had previously examined.

“I found a minimal amount of white powder” in and on the pouch, he testified.

Wise asked him if there is a test that can determine when a drug was placed on an item or who had placed it there. Brewer said there is not.

Wise introduced photos into evidence that showed a zoomed-in view of the trace amounts of white powder found in the pouch. Brewer then explained to the jury about the two different tests that he ran on the powder to determine what it was.

“Cocaine was identified within the residual white powder that I sampled,” he said.

Who is Jason Brewer?

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

Dr. Jason Brewer, who is testifying today, worked at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for about 20 years and currently works as a forensic examiner in the FBI’s chemistry unit. He has testified about 25 different times as an expert witness, he said, and has examined thousands of items over his career. 

‘An amazing family’: Lots of loved ones in court for Hunter Biden today

Reporting from Wilmington, Del.

Valerie Biden Owens, President Joe Biden’s sister, and her husband spent the minutes before court started today hand in hand and sometimes her husband, Jack Owens, had his arm over her shoulders. She was wearing black sunglasses inside.

Friends and family took up more than 2 rows of the courtroom gallery, behind the defense table. Jill Biden, Melissa Cohen-Biden, Kevin Morris, Valerie Biden Owens and Jack Owens were among those in court.

When defense lawyer Abbe Lowell walked into the courtroom, he spent a few minutes chatting with Valerie Biden Owens. “You have an amazing family,” Lowell told her.

When Hunter Biden walked in, he kissed his wife before heading to the defense table.

Trial starts with forensic chemist on the stand

The trial has started for the day and forensic chemist Dr. Jason Brewer has taken the witness stand.

He is expected to testify about his analysis of the residue on the brown leather pouch Hunter Biden had used, and his opinion that the residue was cocaine based on his testing and examination of that evidence.

Where is President Biden today?

Biden continues his trip in France after yesterday’s D-Day commemoration events.

Notably, he held a meeting this morning with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Biden is expected to deliver remarks later in the day honoring the legacy of Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Army Rangers scaled the cliffs during the U.S. invasion to take out German artillery.

First lady Jill Biden arrives at court

First lady Jill Biden arrived at the courthouse at 8:50 a.m. She missed court yesterday because she attended the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, yesterday with the president.

First lady Jill Biden arrives at court today.Matt Slocum / AP

Hunter Biden arrives at court

Hunter Biden arrived at court at 8:39 a.m. His defense team is expected to begin calling witnesses today.

President Joe Biden says he will not pardon his son if he’s convicted on gun-related charges

President Joe Biden told ABC News in an interview yesterday that he will accept whatever a jury decides in Hunter Biden‘s criminal trial and that he will not use his presidential power to pardon his son if he’s convicted.

Biden made his brief statements on his son’s historic trial in an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir in Normandy, where the president and other dignitaries were taking part in a service to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, a turning point for the Allied forces in World War II.

Asked if he would rule out a pardon for his son, who’s facing three federal gun-related charges in court in Delaware, Biden answered simply, “Yes.” Asked if he would accept the outcome of the jury trial, a first for an offspring of a sitting president, he again replied, “Yes.”

Read the full story here.

Defense expected to call Hunter Biden’s uncle and daughter as witnesses

It’s Day 5 of the trial, and we expect prosecutors to rest their case by midmorning. After that, we expect an extended break, followed by the defense presenting its case. We don’t yet know if Hunter Biden will testify in his own defense.

Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said last night that he expects to call two to three more witnesses, although that could change based on the prosecution’s witnesses today.

Close observers of the trial might remember that in opening statements, Lowell said, “Jimmy Biden will explain why he is so close to Hunter.” That hasn’t happened yet, so we should expect to see testimony from James Biden, who is President Joe Biden’s brother, in some form in the coming days.

On Tuesday, Lowell also said Naomi Biden, Hunter Biden’s daughter, is on the witness list.

The jury in Hunter Biden’s federal gun trial heard dramatic testimony from Hallie Biden yesterday. She’s the wife of the late Beau Biden and Hunter’s former romantic partner. Hallie Biden detailed Hunter’s drug addiction, as he faces criminal charges for allegedly lying on a background check about his drug use in order to purchase a gun. NBC News’ Ryan Nobles reports

What to expect today

Prosecutors are expected to bring two more witnesses to the stand: forensic chemist Jason Brewer and Drug Enforcement Agency supervisory special agent Joshua Romig.

Brewer is expected to testify about his analysis of the residue on a brown leather pouch Hunter Biden had used to hold his gun and his opinion that, based on his testing and examination of the evidence, the residue was cocaine.

Romig is expected to offer opinions, based on his training and experience, about coded messages Hunter Biden sent and other information.

Prosecutors could rest their case as early as midmorning. From there, the defense team can call witnesses.

Here’s what you missed yesterday at trial

The late Beau Biden’s wife, Hallie Biden, who had a romantic relationship with Hunter Biden after Beau’s death, took the stand yesterday and testified about why she threw away Hunter’s gun, as well as details about her drug use and Hunter’s addiction.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard from the man who sold Hunter the gun, the man who found the gun in a trash can after Hallie threw it out, and a former Delaware State Police lieutenant.

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