The White House is fending off new questions about Hunter Biden, a sign of how the legal problems and personal issues of the president’s son are likely to be a lingering distraction as President Biden mounts his reelection campaign.
House and Senate Republicans have consistently targeted Hunter Biden with investigations, which are expected to intensify as they argue he received preferential treatment in a plea deal he reached with the Justice Department on tax and gun charges. The president’s son is expected to make an initial court appearance on those charges in the weeks ahead.
The White House over the last week had to deal with questions in the briefing room from reporters asking whether President Biden accepted Hunter Biden’s daughter in Arkansas as his granddaughter. The New York Times recently published a piece about the child, writing that she’s never met Hunter Biden or her grandfather.
The administration is also dealing with barbs and innuendo over Hunter Biden because of the cocaine found at the White House last week. Biden’s possible opponent in next year’s presidential race, former President Trump, publicly insisted the cocaine belonged to Hunter Biden, who has been open about his drug recovery.
The White House has pushed back on questions over whether the Biden family was involved in the incident, which is under investigation by the Secret Service. The cocaine was found in an area frequented by tourists and other White House visitors.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday told a reporter who asked whether the cocaine belonged to the family that “to ask that question is actually incredibly irresponsible.”
“There has been some irresponsible reporting about the family and so, I’ve got to call that out,” she said. “I have been very clear … the Biden family was not here. They were not here. They were at Camp David.”
The GOP sees Hunter Biden as a vulnerability for the president and has signaled they will not slow their attacks. They point to an IRS whistleblower who questioned the integrity of an IRS probe into Biden after the plea deal was announced. Biden will avoid jail time as part of the deal.
“Hunter Biden is the gift that keeps on giving, and he will continue to serve as a thorn in the side of the Biden administration and political operation throughout the election,” said a former Trump donor.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is also getting involved, suggesting the IRS whistleblower’s insight could be grounds for impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Still, the Trump donor said the GOP focus on Hunter Biden risks backfiring on Republicans.
“Republicans have to walk a very fine line between the legitimate oversight of the president’s son and obsessive activities that look like they’re engaging in a witch hunt,” the source said.
President Biden is navigating how to talk about his son in the politically charged environment.
“I’m very proud of my son,” Biden declared when asked about the plea deal reached with the Justice Department on federal tax and gun charges.
When Biden was asked June 26 whether he lied about business dealings related to his son, he responded “No.”
Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre shut down questioning on Wednesday over Biden’s acknowledgment of Hunter Biden’s daughter in Arkansas.
“I don’t have anything to share from here,” she said.
The New York Times reported that in strategy meetings in recent years, aides have been told the Bidens have six and not seven grandchildren, citing people familiar with the discussions.
Hunter Biden appeared in court in Arkansas in May in a paternity-related case, and the mother of the young girl recently agreed to a settlement over child support for the minor.
The Bidens are protective over their son, and their responses about his legal or personal troubles often involve how proud they are of him. First lady Jill Biden in October told NBC she knows Hunter is innocent, adding “I love my son.”
“There’s been lots of former presidents who had challenging relatives that they’ve had to deal with,” said one Democratic strategist who worked as an aide in a previous administration.
“I think, to Joe Biden’s credit, he is a loving father who has seemingly infinite supply of patience and love dealing with his son’s challenges. I think that the way he’s handling it is sort of what you’d come to expect from him,” the strategist said.
Hunter Biden is not lying low amid the GOP attacks.
He attended a state dinner last month and the Fourth of July celebration at the White House last week. His wife, Melissa, and son, named after his late brother Beau, are often spotted with him.
This contrasts with the relatively low profile he kept during the 2020 campaign and in the early months of the presidency.
Allies of President Biden say Hunter Biden spending time around the family shows a close and supportive dynamic.
“To me, it would be unusual and notable if all of a sudden he wasn’t around. I think more people would read into it if he wasn’t a presence in the president’s life,” said the Democratic strategist.
Source: The Hill