Sunday, 23 August 2020

Meet the scandal-hit son Trump is hoping will cost Joe Biden the Presidency: Hunter, 50, who was thrown out of the Navy for cocaine abuse, fathered a child with a stripper... and even had an affair with his dead brother's widow

It has been a great week for Joe Biden. The man running against Donald Trump in November’s US Presidential election was eulogised by his party’s biggest beasts during the virtual Democratic national convention. 
Hillary Clinton praised ‘honest Joe’ for being ‘full of dignity and devoted to his family and country’ while Barack Obama – under whom Biden served eight years as vice-president – called him his ‘brother’ and said the very future of America depended on voters picking ‘dignified Joe’ at the ballot box.
Speech after speech drew upon the heartbreaking story of how Biden’s first wife and daughter were killed in a car crash and how his eldest son Beau died of a brain tumour to ram home the message that here is a man who can heal and rebuild a deeply divided America just as he rebuilt his own life after seemingly insurmountable tragedy.
The black sheep of the family Hunter Biden, 50, (L) has been described as his father’s ‘Achilles heel in presidential bid
The black sheep of the family Hunter Biden, 50, (L) has been described as his father’s ‘Achilles heel in presidential bid
Yet one name was conspicuously glossed over in the tributes. That of Biden’s surviving son Hunter. Apart from a brief video of a subdued Hunter, 50, introducing a weepy segment about Beau, he remained firmly in the shadows.
And for good reason.
For Hunter Biden has been described as his father’s ‘Achilles heel’, a drunken, drug-addled black sheep who has fathered at least one child out of wedlock while allegedly lining his own pockets through shady business deals, using his father’s good name and political connections for his own gain. At one point Hunter even dated his dead brother’s widow.
Of course, Biden is not the first man bidding to be leader of the free world who has been embarrassed by a rogue family member. 
Peanut-growing president Jimmy Carter’s ‘redneck’ brother Billy received $250,000 (£190,000) from America’s sworn enemy Libya and urinated on an airport runway in full view of the press and dignitaries. 
Then there was Bill Clinton’s wayward sibling Roger, who served time for cocaine possession, drug-trafficking and drink-driving.
Now Hunter has become the prime target for those seeking to derail his father’s run for the White House.

For weeks Trump has been asking ‘Where’s Hunter?’ Last week his campaign launched a scathing two-minute ad called ‘Joe Won’t Stand Up For Us’ which repeated allegations that Hunter abused his father’s position as Obama’s vice-president to earn millions in shady deals with China and the Ukraine. Hunter has vehemently denied all charges.
‘Joe Biden is a good guy, a decent man,’ an LA-based producer and major Democratic Party donor told The Mail on Sunday last night. ‘Joe is someone who doesn’t cheat on his wife, has never been embroiled in scandal. Like Donald Trump, he doesn’t even drink alcohol.
‘Hunter is his Achilles heel. Those around Joe dare not even mention Hunter’s name. It’s a sore subject. He loves Hunter, of course, but Joe realises he’s a liability.’
Indeed last November, when a Fox News reporter confronted Biden after DNA tests proved Hunter fathered an illegitimate child with Arkansas stripper Lunden Alexis Roberts (stage name ‘Dusty’), the normally unflappable Biden snapped. 
Visibly angry, he growled: ‘No, that’s a private matter, I have no comment… only you would ask that…. Classy.’
While Hunter’s three grown-up daughters from his failed first marriage to Kathleen are clearly doted on by their devoted grandfather (at the convention Naomi, 26, Finnegan, 20, and 19-year-old Maisy told how their grandfather calls them every day from the campaign trail), Biden is thought to have never met his son’s child with Roberts.
‘Joe is a family man but there are areas which are off-limit,’ the donor said. ‘And Hunter’s car-crash private life is one of them.’
‘Dusty’, the stripper Hunter fathered an illegitimate child with
‘Dusty’, the stripper Hunter fathered an illegitimate child with
Instead, Biden’s campaign has focused on the compelling childhood narrative of Hunter and his late brother Beau: two little boys who were left motherless after a 1972 car crash claimed the lives of Biden’s first wife Neilia, 30, and 13-month- old daughter Naomi. Hunter and Beau were both badly injured in the accident, too.
Much has been made of the fact Biden, as a young senator in the early stages of ‘overwhelming’ grief, would travel four hours on a train each day from his home in Delaware to Washington DC and back again so that he could make his sons breakfast and be there to tuck them into bed at night.
Then there is the powerful tale of how his second wife Jill, a schoolteacher, turned down his proposal of marriage five times because she loved young Beau and Hunter so much she wanted to be certain the marriage would never end in divorce ‘because I couldn’t stand the idea of those little boys having to suffer any more’.
Biden’s TV commercials have lingered lovingly on black-and-white portraits of his sons as children. There are pictures of Biden being sworn in as senator for Delaware at his sons’ hospital after the crash.
One long-time Biden supporter describes Hunter’s story as ‘almost biblical’ in the way his life has been held up in stark contrast to that of his ‘perfect’ older brother.
‘Hunter adores his dad and he adored his big brother Beau [who died of brain cancer in 2015, aged 46],’ the source said.
‘You would have to have a heart of steel not to feel some sympathy for Hunter. His dad is revered by people from both parties for being fair and honest, an all-round good guy. 
Then you have Beau who was a war hero, never did anything wrong, entered politics and was being tipped as a future President. Even today Joe talks about how Beau was a better version of himself.
‘In contrast you have Hunter who never quite lived up to his promise and, still worse, gets pulled down by the grip of addiction and makes one bad decision after another.’
Hunter, who has held various jobs including lawyer and financier, married his first wife Kathleen Buhle in 1992 after meeting her at church. 
The pair wed the following year when she was pregnant with their first daughter and separated in 2015, the year Beau died.
In court documents Kathleen accused Hunter, who spent multiple spells in rehab centres fighting cocaine and alcohol addiction, of ‘creating situations that are unsafe or traumatic for our children’.
Kathleen claimed he squandered the family’s money on strippers, booze, drugs, prostitutes and even gifts to other lovers: ‘His spending rarely relates to legitimate family expenses, but focuses on his own travel (at times multiple hotel rooms on the same night), gifts for other women, alcohol, strip clubs, or other personal indulgences,’ Kathleen said in documents filed in Washington DC in February 2017.
‘Throughout the parties’ separation Mr Biden has created financial concerns for the family by 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.’ In perhaps the most salacious twist, Hunter began an affair with his brother’s widow Hallie in 2016, while still legally married.
Hunter has since said the two were thrown together in mourning ‘sharing a very specific grief’, saying: ‘I started to think of Hallie as the only person in my life who understood my loss. All we got was s*** from everybody all the time.’
While his father was said to be ‘blindsided’ by the revelation, he immediately released a message of support for his son and former daughter-in-law.
In another highly-publicised incident, Hunter enrolled in the US Navy Reserve in 2013 only to be kicked out within weeks when a random drug test detected cocaine in his system.
He argued, implausibly, that he’d ingested the cocaine by accident ‘after bumming a smoke’ from some men outside a bar which left him feeling strangely ‘amped up’.
When his wife begged him to stay sober for 30 days he did so, only to drink a bottle of vodka and relapse on Day 31. 
After multiple rehab attempts failed he was admitted to a clinic in Mexico in 2014 and used ibogaine, a psychoactive drug derived from the roots of a West African shrub that’s illegal in the US, to try to quit drugs. Throughout it all his father remained steadfast in his support.
Joe Biden cut his 30th birthday cake with first wife Neilia and sons Beau, left, and Hunter in 1972
Joe Biden cut his 30th birthday cake with first wife Neilia and sons Beau, left, and Hunter in 1972
During one vodka binge, Hunter did not leave his flat for weeks. His father, then vice-president, turned up uninvited at his door:
‘I need you’, his father told him. ‘What do we have to do?’
Last night, Hunter was believed to be at his home in Los Angeles with his second wife, 34-year-old South African film-maker Melissa Cohen whom he married in May last year, just six days after their first meeting. She gave birth to a baby boy in March. While Hunter insists he is clean and sober and enjoying his ‘new’ life, his past business dealings continue to threaten to tarnish his father’s presidential campaign.
President Trump has called for a probe into why Hunter was paid $50,000 (£38,000) a month by a Ukrainian firm while his father was vice-president. Hunter has said he would ‘welcome’ any investigation adding: ‘I have nothing to hide.’
Similarly he says his dealings with China have all been ‘totally legitimate’ despite the fact he flew to Beijing during one of his father’s official visits as vice-president and was pictured meeting business colleagues, in strict violation of White House policy. He praises his father for never abandoning him, saying: ‘I am absolutely enveloped in love. Everybody faces pain. 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.’
Not that the Trump campaign is likely to show much sympathy. According to the Democratic donor, Trump will stop at nothing to exploit Biden’s ‘weakness’ over his son.
‘This is personal for Trump. The whole thing about him being impeached was because Donald threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless Ukraine launched a probe into Hunter’s business dealings. People in England might not have heard Hunter Biden’s name, but as the election gets closer you won’t be able to avoid it.
‘Trump is notorious for playing dirty and he’s determined to win at all costs. If he can throw dirt at Joe by attacking his son, he will. For some voters, that mud will stick.
‘The one certainty about Joe is that he will never turn his back on Hunter. Only time will tell if that loyalty will cost him the most important prize of all.’

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