Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, has led a dramatic life that started with youthful tragedy: He survived a car crash that killed his mother and sister as a child, underwent a rocky divorce, lost his brother, dated his brother’s widow, battled drug addiction, and, now, has found himself the focal point of controversy over accusations relating to Ukraine, his father, and President Donald Trump.
Joe Biden’s family tragedies are a key part of his biography – especially the deaths of his first wife, daughter and later son Beau Biden, but Hunter is the family member who has often ended up in negative headlines. Hunter’s full name is actually Robert Hunter Biden. He was born on February 4, 1970. Hunter was brought into Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine in a call that has, in part, led Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry. A whistleblower’s report into that call has now been declassified.
Joe Biden is married to second wife, Dr. Jill Biden, with whom he has a daughter. Hunter Biden told Vanity Fair in a lengthy statement, “The important aspect of my complicated divorce (like all divorces) and an equally complicated life, marked by the tragic loss of my mother, sister and brother is this: My father has been a constant source of love and strength in my life. Even though my life has been played out in the media, because I am a Biden, my father never once suggested that the family’s public profile should be my priority. The priority has always been clear for my dad, as it is, now, for me: Never run from a struggle.”
Hunter once told The New Yorker, mentioning his now deceased brother: “Beau and I have been there since we were carried in baskets during his first campaign. We went everywhere with him. At every single major event and every small event that had to do with his political career, I was there.”
Here’s what you need to know about Hunter Biden:
1. Hunter Biden Was in the Car When Joe Biden’s First Wife, Neilia Hunter Biden, Died With the Couple’s Small Daughter
Hunter Biden’s difficult life started when he was just a child. His mother, Neilia Hunter Biden, died at age 30 with her daughter with Joe Biden, Naomi, 1, in a car crash in 1972. At the time of the crash, Joe Biden had just been elected to the U.S. Senate in Delaware. Sons Hunter and Beau were in the car but survived the accident.
According to Politico, the Biden vehicle was struck by a truck carrying corncobs as they journeyed to pick out a Christmas tree. Over the years, Biden has discussed his love for Neilia, including to the author Kitty Kelley. “Neilia was my very best friend, my greatest ally, my sensuous lover,” he told her in 1974. “The longer we lived together the more we enjoyed everything from sex to sports. Most guys don’t really know what I lost because they never knew what I had.”
Hunter suffered a head injury, The New Yorker reported, adding that Joe Biden was sworn in as Delaware’s Senator from the hospital room of his two young sons.
Joe Biden spoke about the loss to a group of soldiers’ families, describing how the pain made him understand why some people contemplate suicide. His second wife, Jill, and the passage of time allowed him to endure.
In the 2012 talk, Biden said, according to ABC News: “For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they’d been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they’d never get there again, that it was … never going to be that way ever again.”
He explained that the grief was a “black hole,” but it’s possible to forge on, saying, according to ABC, “Keep thinking what your husband or wife would want you to do. Keep thinking what it is, and keep remembering those kids of yours, or him or her the rest of their life, blood of my blood, bone of my bone, because, folks, it can and will get better.”
Hunter and Beau gained a mother figure when Joe married Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden. At the time, she was an English teacher, and they met on a blind date in 1977, Politico reports. Americans know her as their former Second Lady.
She helped raised his two sons with his first wife, Beau and Hunter. Joe’s children with Neilia became very close to Jill. “My mom came along — I have two moms now — who came along in 1977 and rebuilt our family, and helped my dad rebuild our family,” Beau Biden told CNN in 2012 of Jill Biden. “She’s an incredible mother.”
Hunter graduated from Georgetown University with a history degree. He received a law degree from Yale University in 1996. According to the New Yorker, he was soon working for a donor to his dad’s campaigns, MBNA America, described as “a banking holding company based in Delaware.” He eventually moved into a lobbying career and founded a consulting group called Rosemont Seneca Partners, where he is a partner.
2. Hunter Biden Dated His Brother Beau’s Widow After Beau Died Tragically of Brain Cancer
More tragedy struck the Biden family when Hunter’s brother, Beau, died from brain cancer. Beau was a rising political star who served as attorney general of Delaware. When he died, he was only 46-years-old.
According to his obituary, Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. “It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life,” Joe Biden said.
At the time of his death, Beau Biden was planning to run for governor. According to The Associated Press, he was a lawyer, a member of the Delaware National Guard and former Delaware attorney general. His full name was Joseph Biden III.
According to CNN, Joe Biden called his son “quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.” Beau Biden served in the Iraq War. He was survived by his wife, Hallie, and the couple’s two children, Natalie and Hunter.
That’s where the tragedy took a bizarre twist; it was revealed that Hunter Biden started dating Hallie Biden after the joint loss.
As scandal brewed, Joe Biden made it clear that he and Jill were standing by the pair. In 2017, Joe Biden told Page Six, “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness. They have [our] full and complete support and we are happy for them.”
Hunter told Page Six, “Hallie and I are incredibly lucky to have found the love and support we have for each other in such a difficult time, and that’s been obvious to the people who love us most. We’ve been so lucky to have family and friends who have supported us every step of the way.”
He told the New Yorker: “We were sharing a very specific grief. I started to think of Hallie as the only person in my life who understood my loss.”
Hallie and Hunter are no longer together, and Hunter is remarried to someone else. Hunter explained to the New Yorker of the split, “All we got was sh*t from everybody, all the time. It was really hard. And I realized that I’m not helping anybody by sticking around.”
3. Hunter Biden Went Through an Ugly Divorce With His Long-Time Wife Lobbing Accusations Against Him & Is Now Married to a Woman He Had Only Known for 10 Days
A messy divorce put Hunter Biden on the front pages again. A 2019 Vanity Fair profile on him said his estranged first wife Kathleen Biden claimed in divorce papers that Hunter had allegedly “blown money on prostitutes, strip clubs, and drugs,” but the magazine noted that “the split was settled without the allegations being litigated.”
Kathleen accused Hunter of “spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations), while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills,” according to The Associated Press. Kathleen became close friends with Michelle Obama after their daughters attended the same tony private school, according to The New Yorker article.
Hunter Biden has three children with his first wife Kathleen. They are named Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy.
According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Hunter’s name and email address showed up as a customer of Ashley Madison, a controversial website that facilitates people looking to cheat on their partners. He denied the account belonged to him, the newspaper reported, but, Kathleen separated from him later that year. By 2017 the couple was divorced.
Hunter is now remarried to a woman from South Africa named Melissa Cohen. According to Page Six, they married 10 days after they met.
Hunter and Melissa were married on May 16 in Los Angeles. According to TMZ, the wedding was conducted by a “minister who runs an instant marriage company,” and Joe Biden was not present.
4. Hunter’s Work in Ukraine & as a Lobbyist Has Provoked Controversy
Hunter Biden has worked as a lobbyist, and has served on boards of directors, and his business dealings have generated headlines. According to The New York Times, he was on the board “of one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies.” Politifact concluded in an article exploring the issue that “Experts agree that Hunter Biden’s acceptance of the position created a conflict of interest for his father.”
The New York Times previously reported in May 2019 that dealing with Ukraine was something Joe Biden “enthusiastically embraced” as President Barack Obama’s vice president, “browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act.” You can read the full Times’ report here.
The Times added that Joe Biden, in 2016, “threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.” The prosecutor’s name was Viktor Shokin.
The prosecutor was voted out. The Times reported that Hunter Biden “had a stake in the outcome,” because, at the time, he was a board member for “an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch” who had been a target of the fired prosecutor.
The Times described Hunter as a “Yale-educated lawyer” who had served on Amtrak’s board and boards for nonprofit organizations but didn’t have experience in Ukraine. He was paid “as much as $50,000 per month” some months for his work for Burisma Holdings, The Times reported.
The Times claimed that Hunter and his partners “were part of a broad effort by Burisma to bring in well-connected Democrats” during “the period” that the company faced probes in the Ukraine and from Obama administration officials.
The newspaper quoted Hunter Biden as saying, “I have had no role whatsoever in relation to any investigation of Burisma, or any of its officers. I explicitly limited my role to focus on corporate governance best practices to facilitate Burisma’s desire to expand globally.”
Some allege that Shokin actually stopped investigating Burisma, countering his narrative that he wanted to pursue the probe. Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Kyiv-based Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC), told Radio Free Europe that Shokin “dumped important criminal investigations on corruption associated with [former President Viktor] Yanukovych, including the Burisma case.” Furthermore, “Ukrainian prosecutors and anti-corruption advocates who were pushing for an investigation into the dealings of Burisma and its owner, Mykola Zlochevskiy, said the probe had been dormant long before Biden leveled his demand,” Radio Free Europe reports.
“Ironically, Joe Biden asked Shokin to leave because the prosecutor failed [to pursue] the Burisma investigation, not because Shokin was tough and active with this case,” Kaleniuk said to Radio Free Europe. The owner of Burisma was Mykola Zlochevsky. “Zlochevsky had been Ukraine’s ecology minister under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader who had been forced into exile in Russia,” James Risen wrote for Intercept.
Risen added, “The then-vice president issued his demands for greater anti-corruption measures by the Ukrainian government despite the possibility that those demands would actually increase – not lessen — the chances that Hunter Biden and Burisma would face legal trouble in Ukraine.” Read his full report here.
NBC News reported that the elder Biden’s role in Ukraine involved leading “the U.S. diplomatic efforts to bolster the country’s fledgling democracy and root out corruption after mass protests ousted the country’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.” According to NBC, Burisma, for which Hunter is no longer on the board, “had ties to Yanukovych,” raising conflict of interest concerns that the Obama White House denied. It was argued that the prosecutor was hesitant to go after any prominent members of the Yanukovych regime.
However, Bloomberg has reported that the prosecutor’s investigation into Burisma was dormant for some time before Joe Biden made his comments about Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, Joe Biden stated his comments against the prosecutor derived from U.S. frustrations that the prosecutor was soft on corruption.
In May 2019, Ukraine’s then prosecutor general “said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden,” BBC reported.
This plays into accusations that President Trump, in a call to the president of Ukraine, urged him to investigate Biden’s son. Biden, of course, is a political rival of Trump’s as a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Trump released a memorandum of the call on September 25, 2019 with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky. The passage about Hunter Biden says:
Trump: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.
I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.
Read the full memorandum here.
Trump told reporters of that call, according to NBC: “What Joe Biden did for his son, that’s something they should be looking at.” Trump also said, NBC reported: “He said, ‘I’m not going to give billions of dollars to Ukraine unless they remove this prosecutor.’ And they removed the prosecutor supposedly in one hour,” Trump claimed, referring to Biden. “And the prosecutor was prosecuting the company of the son and the son. He just shouldn’t have said that. Now, as far as my conversation, it was perfect. It was a perfect conversation.”
There have also been accusations that Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, and there is an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint that hasn’t been made public.
Biden has previously spoken about his actions in Ukraine. “I remember going over (to Ukraine), convincing our team … that we should be providing for loan guarantees. … And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from (then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and from (then-Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor (Shokin). And they didn’t…” he said during an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018.
“They were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, … we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, ‘You have no authority. You’re not the president.’ … I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. … I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
According to John Solomon, writing for The Hill: “U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.”
Solomon added that Shokin “told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made ‘specific plans’ for the investigation that ‘included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.'”
Politifact concluded: “Vice President Joe Biden did urge Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, with the threat of withholding U.S. aid. But that was the position of the wider U.S. government, as well as other international institutions. We found no evidence to support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son’s interests in mind, as the message suggests. It’s not even clear that the company was actively under investigation or that a change in prosecutors benefited it.”
5. Hunter Has Battled Drug Addiction & Was Hit With a Child Support Petition in Arkansas
Hunter Biden has struggled with drug issues. In 2014, CNN reported that the Navy Reserve discharged Hunter Biden after he tested positive for cocaine. “It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge. I respect the Navy’s decision. With the love and support of my family, I’m moving forward,” Hunter Biden told CNN.
Hunter opened up about his drug addiction in a lengthy profile published by The New Yorker. “Look, everybody faces pain,” he said to the magazine. “Everybody has trauma. There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel—it’s a never-ending tunnel. You don’t get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it.”
Biden was recently hit with a child support petition from 28-year-old Lunden Alexis Roberts, who claims she gave birth to his child in August 2018. The suit was filed in Arkansas. “The parties were in a relationship and a child, Baby Doe … was born as a result of that relationship,” the lawsuit says, according to Page Six. Hunter denies Roberts’ allegations.
Roberts’ lawyer told The Arkansas Democrat Gazette: “She really does not want this to be a media spectacle. She does not want this to affect Joe Biden’s campaign. She just wants this baby to get financial support from the baby’s father.” Lunden Alexis Roberts was a star high school athlete in Batesville, Arkansas. She went to college and ended up in Washington D.C. for a time doing graduate work. Her father owns a gun works shop.
He’s now agreed to take a DNA test to establish paternity in the latter case, according to Arkansas Times.
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