Meet Hunter Biden, the often scandal-plagued middle child of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden

Hunter Biden. Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA
  • Hunter Biden, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s middle child, was at the centre of a dubious New York post article based on purported juicy emails and photos found on a laptop sent to the outlet by Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.
  • Hunter Biden was previously mentioned by Trump in the first presidential debate for his business dealings, including his connections with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings and profiting in China while his father was vice president.
  • Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, Hunter Biden’s entanglement in the administration’s contact with Ukraine proved to be controversial, but it remains to be seen how this may impact his father’s bid for the presidency.
  • Here’s how he rose through the ranks of Washington.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden‘s middle child, was the subject of a dubious story published by the New York Post that aired unverified claims about juicy emails and embarrassing images it said were found on the younger Biden’s laptop. The story was widely discredited, but not before it raised questions among lawmakers and US intelligence about a possible Russian disinformation effort ahead of November’s presidential election.

Biden’s son was also a major topic amid chaotic discourse during the first Trump-Biden debate, Trump mentioned his business dealings, including his connections with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings and profiting in China while his father was vice president. Hunter was previously at the centre of Trump’s Ukraine scandal that launched an impeachment inquiry.

Before being referenced by Trump, he took the spotlight in an emotional speech with younger sister Ashley Biden on the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention.

The 50-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, 2019, 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.

Sen. 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. Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

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.

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

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 graduating 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.

A view of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Railroad Station, an Amtrak train station, July 21, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images

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.

Former President Bill Clinton. Time Life Pictures/White House/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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.


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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Rudy Giuliani and President Donald Trump. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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.

Family 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. AP

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.

Hunter Biden in 2012. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

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.

Hunter Biden delivered a speech on August 20, on the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention, endorsing his father’s candidacy for the presidential election.

Hunter Biden addresses the virtual Democratic National Convention Handout/DNCC/Getty Images

Ashley and Hunter Biden delivered an emotional speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, where his father accepted the nomination for the Democratic presidential nominee.

“He’s been a great father,” Hunter Biden said. “And we think he’ll be a great president,” his sister followed. The two addressed the death of their older brother Beau, who introduced their father at the 2008 and 2012 conventions.

Hunter was at the centre of controversy again when the New York Post on October 14 published unverified claims about shady emails and embarrassing images that were said to be found on his laptop.

World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden speaks on stage at the organisation’s Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony on April 12, 2016, in Washington, DC. Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

The story claimed the Post had found a “smoking-gun email” detailing Hunter’s contact with a Ukrainian official about meeting with his father. However, the article contained a number of red flags, including its sources behind these claims, and was immediately questioned by more reputable outlets.

But Republicans rallied behind the story as evidence of Biden’s wrongdoing with his Ukrainian contacts. President Donald Trump used the story to claim discrimination against conservatives by Big Tech after Facebook and Twitter tamped down the story’s spread.

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told The New York Times that he gave the New York Post a copy of a hard drive that led to its story on Hunter Biden because other news outlets would “spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out.”

After the story was widely discredited, more than 50 former intelligence officials said in an open letter they were “deeply suspicious” that Russia could have been involved in the story, as the article’s publishing had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

NBC News reported shortly after the story was published that the FBI was investigating, but John Ratcliffe, Trump’s director of National Intelligence, told Fox Business Network “there is no intelligence that supports” the claim that the laptop and emails are “part of a Russian disinformation campaign.”