Hunter’s Women: The Three Exes Tangled Up in Biden’s Trial

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

One is a church-going executive of a non-profit. One is a dancer at a strip club. One was a school counselor married to Hunter Biden’s brother, Beau. But what do they all have in common? All three are former romantic partners of Hunter Biden and could be the key to making him the first son of a president ever to be convicted of criminal charges.

All three testified for the prosecution this week in Delaware federal court, where Biden is facing three charges in connection with an October 2018 federal firearms application. The women could not be more different, but each provided intimate testimony about their relationship with Biden and his self-destructive behavior linked to his escalating drug use over the last decade.

The gut-wrenching testimonies took up at least two days of a trial in which prosecutors are trying to prove that Biden knowingly lied about his drug addiction on a form to buy a gun. Critics, however, believe the airing of Biden’s love life and drug habits in open court is just meant to humiliate the president’s son for a criminal charge that is rarely prosecuted.

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told The Daily Beast that while the three women are very different, “they were all consistent in describing Hunter’s crack cocaine use” and that may be too much for the defense to overcome.

“[The defense is] arguing that Hunter didn’t think he was a user or addict when he bought the gun, so they’ve opened the door to all the embarrassing evidence coming in: the laptop images with drug paraphernalia, messages to and about drug dealers, and testimony from his exes,” he added.

Here are the three women at the center of the prosecution’s case:

A photo of Kathleen Buhle

Kathleen Buhle departing the courthouse on Tuesday.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Kathleen Buhle

Buhle, a non-profit executive and writer, met Biden in July 1992 while the two were working as volunteers at a Portland church. Three months after the couple started dating, Buhle fell pregnant and they married about a year later. The pair, who moved to Wilmington before settling down in D.C., had two more daughters together.

In her 2022 memoir, If We Break, Buhle details her 24-year relationship with Biden and his struggle with addiction. She wrote that she first noticed his drinking problem in 2001, after the birth of their second child as he began a new job as a partner at a D.C. lobbying firm.

“I watched his drinking spiral from social to problematic,” she wrote. “Watching how much he could consume scared me… For the first time, I didn’t trust my husband.”

Biden would ultimately go to rehab three times during their marriage but continued to struggle with sobriety and would often lash out at Buhle whenever she suspected that he had relapsed. She wrote that one dark period for Biden came after his brother Beau was diagnosed with a fatal form of brain cancer, which led to Hunter openly leaving bottles of vodka and cans of beer throughout their home.

It wasn’t until July 2015, however, that she got confirmation of her long-held suspicion that Biden was also doing drugs. On the stand Wednesday, Buhle told jurors that Biden admitted to smoking crack after she found a crack pipe in an ashtray on the porch of their D.C. home. She moved out, but it wasn’t until she discovered his infidelity that she started the process of separation.

Buhle wrote in her memoir that Biden admitted to cheating on her at least five times during their marriage, including with his late brother’s wife, Hallie. She wrote that while she initially tried to work on their marriage, it was Biden who began to pull away as he started to spend more time with Hallie and her children—before Hallie eventually stopped responding to her.

Ultimately, she wrote in the book, she learned the full extent of Biden’s relationship with Hallie through her daughter.

“Hunter’s relapses, Beau’s diagnosis, the cheating—each of these moments had brought a powerful, visceral wave of emotion,” she wrote. “But this news, in some ways the very most damning, seemed to sit placidly on the surface… I felt a strange sense of vindication. Not only had I not been crazy, but it was so much worse than I could have imagined.”

She filed for divorce in 2016, which was finalized a year later. On top of dealing with the loss of her long-term relationship, Buhle wrote she also learned she had stage 3 colon cancer in 2019—the same year she removed Biden as her last name. In 2022, she announced she was cancer-free.

Zoe Kestan attends American Gods & Now Apocalypse Live Viewing Party At #TwitterHouse in Austin in 2019.

Zoe Kestan attends American Gods & Now Apocalypse Live Viewing Party At #TwitterHouse in Austin in 2019.

Robin Marchant/Getty

Zoe Kestan

About seven months after Biden and Buhle’s divorce was finalized, the president’s son went to a Manhattan gentlemen’s club for a night out—and met dancer Zoe Kestan.

Kestan, a lingerie designer who has worked for many New York artists and textile designers over the last decade, told jurors she was 24 when she met Biden. The president’s son was double her age at 48.

It was a night in late December 2017 when Kestan was asked to do one last 30-minute private dance. When she arrived, she said a “charming” Biden was already in the room with another dancer.

Biden then started playing a Fleet Foxes song as they began talking before he went to the room’s balcony to smoke out of a pipe. “I remember thinking to myself [that] I didn’t notice a change in his behavior,” Kestan testified. “Nothing had changed, he was the same charming person.”

The rest of the meeting was uneventful, ending with Biden asking her if she wanted to go back to his hotel and her passing along her number when she declined.

About a week later, after she realized she had met Joe Biden’s son, she met up with him at the Soho Grand Hotel. She testified that Biden was playing “loud rock music” when she entered and he began smoking minutes after her arrival.

Kestan said that while she declined his invitation to join him, the hotel room hangout led to a 10-month whirlwind romance during which Biden would often call her his “distraction” to crack. At one point, she said, Biden was smoking crack “every 20 minutes or so” throughout the week and she saw him buy drugs on multiple occasions.

The pair ended their relationship in October 2018, around the time prosecutors allege he lied on his gun form.

A photo of Hallie Biden

Hallie Biden arriving at the courthouse on Thursday.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Hallie Biden

The start of Hallie Biden and her brother-in-law’s romantic relationship is hard to pinpoint, but both have claimed it started amid their immense shared grief over Beau’s death.

The two, who have known each other since middle school, have both claimed it started in 2017 and lasted until 2019—but that it ultimately “didn’t work” amid public scrutiny. Behind the scenes, Hallie revealed in court Thursday, the pair also struggled with Biden’s addiction, his attempts at sobriety, and eventually, her own struggle with drugs.

“I think people were confused by it,” Hunter Biden said of the relationship in a 2021 CBS Sunday Morning interview. “And I understand that. I mean, I really do. To me, it's not something that is difficult to explain. Because it came out of a real overwhelming grief that we both shared. And we were together, and trying to do the right thing. And that grief turned into a hope for a love that maybe could replace what we lost.”

Hallie Biden, a former school counselor and non-profit executive, said in court Thursday that she didn’t initially know about Biden’s crack usage until she found the drug in her Wilmington home after they started dating.

“I didn’t know what it was,” she said, adding that she had to “Google it” before confronting him.

Soon, she said, she started accompanying Biden to buy drugs—and eventually started using crack cocaine after visiting him in Los Angeles in the summer of 2018.

“It was a terrible experience that I went through, and I’m embarrassed and I’m ashamed of that period of my life,” she told jurors on Thursday.

Months later, she found the gun Biden had purchased in 2018 in his truck and quickly discarded it behind a grocery store. Hallie testified on Thursday that the incident turned their relationship “more tense” when Biden told her she’d have to file a police report because the gun was registered in his name.

In text messages revealed in court, Biden yelled at Hallie for invading his privacy. Days later, she texted him to not return to their shared home.

“Don’t come back to the house, obviously you have something in New York more important to you than me,” she wrote in what appears to be a reference to Kestan.

The two broke up months later. On the stand, she admitted that Biden would often lie to her during their relationship.

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