Hunter Biden Trial Watch: ABC’s ‘GMA’ Waves Goodbye, NBC Admits He’s Toast

ABC’s Good Morning America bid farewell Thursday to the first Hunter Biden trial (at least for now) with zero mentions during their news show ahead of what would be a critical day of testimony for the prosecution by Hunter’s former love/late brother Beau’s widow Hallie Biden. CBS Mornings and NBC’s Today, in contrast, still had full stories with the latter even conceding Biden’s only hope to evade guilty is sympathetic juror.

The coverage disparity from the Trump trial only widened with 49 minutes and 14 seconds since Monday on the network morning and evening shows compared to 74 minutes and 31 seconds at this point in the Trump trial.

CBS correspondent Scott MacFarlane started with a tone of sympathy in summarizing Wednesday’s proceedings: “It was a day of deeply personal testimony as prosecutors tried to prove Hunter Biden illegally purchased and possessed this Colt .38 handgun while using drugs in late 2018 and lied on the application form.”

After noting Hunter’s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle testified, he brought up another one of the First Son’s former love interests:

Then, Hunter Biden’s former girlfriend, Zoe Kestan, took the stand. She dated Biden for much of 2018, and testified she saw him smoke crack “every 20 minutes or so”, including in late September of that year, weeks before he bought the gun. Then she said she witnessed him use drugs again in November.

He previewed Hallie’s testimony by citing texts introduced earlier in the week, courtesy of Hunter’s laptop from hell (though he didn’t say that’s where they came from.

“And the jurors heard from the gunshot shop owner who sold the gun to Hunter Biden. And, Nate, prosecutors held up the gun in court for the jurors to see,” he later concluded.

NBC’s Today had more depth, starting with this sympathy-seeking tease from co-host Hoda Kotb (which isn’t included in the coverage tallies):

Dramatic testimony. Hunter Biden’s ex-wife and former girlfriend both taking the stand in his trial on federal gun charges. What they revealed about his history of addiction and their volatile relationships, with prosecutors set to wrap up their case as soon as today.

Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles remained on the trial beat with his piece largely sticking to MacFarlane’s including quoting testimony from the one-time stripper Kestan and the strategy of Hunter’s legal team (click “expand”):

“He used cash for a lot of things, a good amount of it was for drugs,” said Zoe Kestan, a woman Hunter met at a strip club in New York. The pair launched a relationship filled with drugs and alcohol. Kestan testifying at one point that Hunter was “smoking crack every 20 minutes or so.” Also on the stand, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle. She told the jury how she learned her then husband was abusing drugs. “I found a crack pipe on July 3rd, 2015,” she recalled, adding that it was on their porch. Buhle testified how his drug abuse led to the end of their marriage. When she confronted him, she said, he acknowledged smoking crack. She routinely searched his car for and found drug paraphernalia before their daughters would drive, including into 2018 when Hunter’s accused of lying on the form. 

But the defense team is working hard to plant a seed of reasonable doubt with the jury. Defense attorney Abbe Lowell, pressing agent Erica Jensen about the form. “Do you know whether the defendant checked those boxes,” he said. “Not from my own observation,” she replied. “I’m not qualified as a handwriting expert.” The prosecution rebutted with Gordon Cleveland, the man who sold Hunter the gun and watched him fill out the form. “What did he write,” the prosecutor asked. Cleveland said, “he wrote, ‘no’.” Still yet to testify perhaps the most important witness, Hallie Biden, the widow of Beau Biden, Hunter’s brother, and a former romantic partner. She was involved with Hunter when he bought the gun and tried to throw it away at a grocery store.

Nobles had something new to offer as he revealed Hunter’s defense team could “call Naomi Biden, who is Hunter’s daughter” (and, in something Nobles didn’t note, has lived at the Biden White House) to give “a different interpretation of the events around this time than her mother who testified yesterday.”

The half-segment came with Kotb joining two former lawyers in co-host Savannah Guthrie and senior legal analyst Laura Jarrett.

Guthrie summarized the defense’s Hail Mary: “So, the issue in this case, the defense is trying to say well maybe wasn’t an addict at the very moment he checked that box.”

Jarrett played it straight, admitting “[t]hat’s a tough road for them” since “[t]he prosecutors really have an upper hand here because they’ve clearly established that he was using a lot of drugs before, and he was using a lot of drugs after.”

“The defense’s only hope is there will be somebody on that jury who has sympathy and has a little bit of reasonable doubt because the evidence that they have for that day in particular, is only these text messages with Hallie Biden,” she added.

In responding to Kotb’s question about any chance for a last-minute plea deal, Jarrett explained prosecutors have no reason to given the previous one fell apart and they have “all the embarrassing and damming evidence” on their side.

Most significantly, Jarrett cautioned viewers to not think the crimes Hunter’s accused of are benign: “[H]e’s facing so much prison time for this. Guys, this is not a minor crime. We’re talking about decades behind bars if convicted.”

To see the relevant transcripts from June 6, click here (for CBS) and here (for NBC).

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