The life of Hunter Biden: How Joe Biden's middle child landed in Trump's impeachment inquiry and a paternity scandal of his own

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USAHunter Biden.
  • Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s middle child, is at the centre of a controversy that is being stirred by President Donald Trump’s administration over a possible conflict of interest involving a business he was involved in and the Ukrainian government.
  • Biden’s personal life has created tension as it has played out amid his father’s political life for years, and despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, his entanglement in the administration’s contact with Ukraine is proving controversial.
  • The lastest controversy is that Biden fathered a child with a different woman while dating his brother’s widow. The DNA results confirming it was his child were reported on his father’s 77th birthday.
  • See how Biden rose through the ranks of Washington to land in President Donald Trump’s latest scandal, and a scandal of his own.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden‘s middle child, is at the centre of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal that launched an impeachment inquiry.

The 49-year-old’s personal life has created tension as it has played out amid his father’s political life for years, and is now coming into sharper focus as his dad has led the field of Democratic voters for months.

The controversies escalated on November 20, when DNA results confirmed he fathered a child with a different woman while dating Hallie Biden, his brother’s widow. While he dismissed the claims by the child’s mother, Lunden Alexis Roberts, earlier in the year, court filings now assert that he accepts the child is his.

See how Hunter Biden rose through the ranks of Washington, found himself involved in Trump’s latest scandal, and discovered he was a father again in 2019.

Joe Biden’s sons have been well-known fixtures in his public life since they were children.

Bettmann / Contributor via Getty ImagesSen. Joseph Biden takes the oath of office from the US Senate’s secretary, Frank Valeo, with his father-in-law Robert Hunter and son Joseph Beau Biden at his side, in Beau’s hospital room.

Joe Biden was sworn into office for a Delaware Senate seat in a Wilmington, Delaware, hospital where his two young sons, Hunter and his brother Beau, were taken after being severely injured in a car accident that killed Biden’s wife and baby daughter, Naomi, in 1972.

The senator’s daily 90-minute train commute to Washington, DC, and back to Delaware to care for his sons earned him the nickname “Amtrak Joe.”

Biden later married Jill Jacobs, Hunter and Beau’s stepmother, in 1977. The brothers’ half-sister, Ashley, was born on June 8, 1981.

Hunter Biden followed in his father’s political footsteps and worked his way up in Washington.

Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty ImageSen. Joe Biden with his family after announcing his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Hunter Biden studied at Georgetown University and graduated in 1992. It was while earning his undergraduate history degree that he began to differ from his teetotaler father as he began to ramp up his social drinking habit into smoking Marlboro Reds and occasionally using cocaine, according to a 2019 interview with The New Yorker.

After graduation, he spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working in Portland, Oregon, before earning a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1996.

In 1997, Hunter Biden returned to the family’s roots in Wilmington, Delaware, where he began a career that immediately caused conflict-of-interest questions.

Hunter Biden bought a historic estate in Wilmington in 1997, where he lived with his wife, young daughters, and brother Beau. He assumed a role as an executive vice president at MBNA bank but later said he disliked the stiff corporate culture.

“If you forgot to wear your MBNA lapel pin, someone would stop you in the halls,” he later told The New Yorker.

His role at the bank raised eyebrows as MBNA was known as a massive donor to several of Joe Biden’s campaigns over the years, but he stayed with the company for nearly five years.

In 1998, he reached out to William Oldaker, a Washington, DC-based lawyer who had worked on Joe Biden’s 1987 presidential campaign about getting a job in President Bill Clinton’s administration, according to The New Yorker.

Hunter Biden flexed his connections and rose up the ranks in the Washington scene.

Oldaker connected Hunter Biden with Commerce Secretary William Daley, who had worked with Joe Biden and bonded with Hunter over being from political families, according to The New Yorker.

Hunter Biden was then appointed to the department by President Bill Clinton and served from 1998 to 2001 as a director in the Department of Commerce focusing on e-commerce-policy issues.

Hunter Biden moved his young family to a tony Washington, DC, neighbourhood for the role, where he began to establish himself as a DC player, even though he later revealed his salary barely covered the family’s house, the children’s schooling, and the living expenses that kept them in pace with high DC society.

From 2001 to 2008, he worked at Oldaker, Biden, and Belair LLP, a federal lobbyist firm he cofounded but resigned from to preserve the optics of his father’s campaign.

Getty/Chip Somodevilla

CNN reported that Hunter Biden resigned from the firm when then-Sen. Barack Obama, who said he would refuse donations from lobbyists, asked Joe Biden to join his presidential ticket.

Hunter Biden later told The New Yorker that no one from the Obama campaign had directly told him to break his lobbying ties but that he knew “the writing was on the wall,” so he resigned from the firm and from an unpaid seat on the Amtrak board in preparation for the election.

“I wanted my father to have a clean slate,” Hunter Biden told the outlet. “I didn’t want to limit him in any way.”

As his father found his place at the top of Washington, Hunter Biden launched several new business efforts that raised eyebrows.

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesDemocratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with Hunter Biden at a campaign stop in Dubuque, Iowa.

In September 2008, Hunter Biden launched a consulting firm, Seneca Global Advisors, and in June 2009, Hunter cofounded the private-equity firm Rosemont Seneca Partners. The New Yorker said that through his companies and his partners, Hunter Biden established various business connections to figures in China and Russia.

His blooming international business relationships came to a head when his father adopted policy priorities to crack down on corruption in Ukraine, but he was not accused of any formal wrongdoing.

Into adulthood, Hunter Biden became known for his tumultuous personal life.

Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesBeau Biden, Hunter Biden, and Ashley Biden while Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Convention on September 6, 2012.

Hunter Biden’s tumultuous personal life became tabloid fodder during and after his father’s time with the administration.

He sparked confusion when he, then 44 years old, enlisted in the Navy Reserves in 2012, less than two years before reports broke that the Reserve discharged him in 2014 after he tested positive for cocaine.

Hunter Biden eventually confirmed the news and said in a statement that it was “the honour 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.”

After tragedy struck the family through 46-year-old Beau Biden’s death from cancer in 2015, Hunter Biden’s personal life remained in the headlines.

After he divorced his first wife and the mother of his three daughters, Kathleen, the Biden family acknowledged he was dating Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow.

Hunter Biden raised eyebrows with a candid New Yorker interview in which he said he spent the aftermath of his brother’s death on a bender that included him buying crack from homeless people. He also said that he and Hallie Biden discovered they were “sharing a very specific grief” and spent a lot of time together in 2016 before they became a couple.

The couple apparently tried to keep the relationship secret, but the former vice president found out when Page Six called him for comment on a story on the relationship, after which he and Jill Biden issued a supportive statement.

“We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness,” the statement said. “They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”

It’s unclear when Hunter and Hallie Biden stopped dating, but their breakup was reported in early May, shortly before TMZ reported the “secret” wedding between Hunter Biden and the South African model Melissa Cohen, which happened on May 16.

Despite his personal affairs, Hunter Biden’s biggest public troubles came from questions into his business dealings.

Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USAJoe Biden, right, and his son Hunter Biden.

In May 2014, Hunter Biden signed on as a board member of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest gas-production company. He found the company through his business contacts at a controversial time, and as part of the board’s anti-corruption efforts, he recommended the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, where he was “a counsel.”

A press release announced upon Hunter Biden’s hiring said he was in charge of the company’s international legal relations with different companies, but he later denied that characterization.

The appointment caused concerns as it came at a tense time between the White House and Russia over Ukraine and its energy dependence, sparking criticism that Hunter Biden’s role with the energy giant was a blatant conflict of interest.

But the Bidens dismissed the controversy, telling media outlets that Hunter Biden is a private citizen and his business interests don’t represent or affect the views of the government.

The controversy was revived nearly five years later.

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesRudy Giuliani and President Donald Trump.

Within one month of his term on the board expiring, a bombshell New York Times story published on May 1 detailed Joe and Hunter Biden’s ties to Ukraine and said the former vice president had successfully gotten a Ukrainian prosecutor removed from office.

The move raised questions about a possible conflict of interest and if Joe Biden was trying to shield his son from an investigation into the company, whose founder faced multiple investigations into allegations of tax evasion and money laundering.

The former vice president was reported to be just one part of a larger push coming from former President Obama’s administration for the Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to be removed over concerns of corruption in his office. Joe Biden has since publicly detailed his threat to withhold $US1 billion in loan guarantees from the country if Shokin wasn’t fired.

However, it’s since been reported that there was not an active investigation into Hunter Biden when the former vice president made the push for Shokin’s firing, and Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, later said that he had no evidence of wrongdoing against either Biden.

Despite the absence of proven wrongdoing by the Bidens, the back-and-forth has been used by the Trump administration to obscure Rudy Giuliani’s communications with Ukraine that were made public earlier this year and the growing concern that Trump actively collaborated with a foreign power to gain political leverage.

Read more: The Joe and Hunter Biden Ukraine investigation, explained

As Trump ramped up his hits against the Bidens, House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

APFamily members gather for a road naming ceremony with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, centre, his son Hunter Biden, left, and his sister Valerie Biden Owens.

On September 24, House Democrats announced they were opening an impeachment inquiry amid revelations about Trump’s conduct with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the former vice president and his son.

A bombshell whistleblower complaint revealed days earlier put a finer point on the administration’s contact with Ukraine, as the report alleged Trump had acted inappropriately in pushing for a foreign power to take aim at the Bidens, specifically in a July 25 phone conversation between the leaders.

The call reportedly came just days after Trump withheld nearly $US400 million in aid to Ukraine. A memo released by the White House about the specifics of the call quotes Trump urging Zelensky to launch an investigation and instructing him to speak with US Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer.

Another damning detail from the call was identified when Zelensky promised Trump that “the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person” and “will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue.”

As support ramped up among the public and lawmakers for impeachment proceedings, Trump and Giuliani lashed out at Democrats and media reports.

On October 4, Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, announced that authorities were reviewing past investigations into Burisma as part of a larger probe that will take a second pass at several previous investigations by the agency that was plagued by corruption concerns.

Then, on his father’s 77th birthday, and in the middle of the impeachment hearing, a DNA test confirmed Biden fathered a baby with another woman while he was dating his brother’s widow.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / APHunter Biden in 2012.

On November 20, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported DNA tests had confirmed “with scientific certainty,” that Biden was the father of a baby with a woman named Lunden Alexis Roberts.

Despite the timing of the news, Roberts told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in June that she didn’t want to cause a media spectacle, nor for the news to interfere with Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

She filed for a paternity test and child support in May. In August, Biden denied the child was his, and asked the courts to dismiss Roberts’ complaint, The Daily Beast Reported.

Since the baby’s DNA has been confirmed, Biden hasn’t commented publicly. But according to the court filing, he isn’t expected to challenge the results or the process.

The court filing also pointed to the fact the Biden family is protected by the US Secret Service, indicating Biden’s child might need the same protections.

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