Lawyer and investment banker Hunter Biden is the son of president-elect Joe Biden and his late first wife, Neilia.
Who Is Hunter Biden?
Hunter Biden is president-elect Joe Biden’s only surviving son. A lawyer by trade, he is also a founder of the investment and advisory firm Rosemont Seneca Partners. In 2014, he was recruited to the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, serving until his term expired in April 2019. His role with Burisma led to an election-year Senate Republican corruption investigation, which eventually cleared him and his father of wrongdoing. Hunter, whose decades-long struggle with addiction lead to his discharge from the Navy Reserves, is a father of five and is currently married to his second wife, South African documentarian Melissa Cohen.
Early Life and Education
Robert Hunter Biden was born in Wilmington, Delaware on February 4, 1970, to Joe and his first wife, Neilia. His older brother Joseph “Beau” Biden III was born just over one year prior, and their sister Naomi “Amy” Biden would be born almost two years later in November 1971.
On December 18, 1972, Hunter was involved in a tragic car accident that claimed the lives of his mother, and then 13-month-old sister. Beau was also a passenger in the vehicle that collided with a tractor-trailer at an intersection. Hunter suffered a severe head injury, while Beau sustained several broken bones. Joe, who was in Washington, D.C. at the time of the accident, chose to be sworn into his first team as a United States Senator in his sons’ hospital room on January 5, 1973.
Hunter graduated from private Catholic high school, Archmere Academy, in Claymont, Delaware, also his siblings’ and father’s alma mater, before enrolling at Georgetown University in 1988. To help pay for his room and board, Hunter worked odd jobs, such as parking cars at events and unloading boxes of frozen beef, and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1992. Despite being accepted into the creative writing program at Syracuse University, where he’d considered getting a joint M.F.A.-law degree, Hunter opted to attend Georgetown Law. After one year, he transferred to Yale Law and completed his law degree in 1996.
Joe Biden and first wife, Neilia, with sons Hunter and Beau, cut his 30th birthday cake at a party in Wilmington, Delaware on November 20, 1972
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Joe Biden with his first wife, Neilia; Amy, Biden’s infant daughter who tragically died in a car accident
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Joe Biden kissing wife Jill’s forehead after announcing his bid for president in June 1987
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Joe Biden, with wife Jill and children Hunter (L), Ashley and Beau, smiles as he grabs a walking stick presented to him by a supporter after announcing his bid for president in 1987
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Joe Biden with his daughter, Ashley, in September 1988
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Joe Biden shares a moment with his granddaughter Naomi during a "Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" event on Capitol Hill on April 22, 2004
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Joe Biden with his mother, Jean, during an election night gathering in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois on November 4, 2008
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Joe Biden and sons Hunter (L) and Beau walk in the Inaugural Parade on January 20, 2009, in Washington, D.C.
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Joe Biden talks with his son U.S. Army Capt. Beau Biden at Camp Victory near Baghdad, Iraq on July 4, 2009
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Joe Biden and his daughter, Ashley, watch the third presidential debate on October 22, 2012, from a hotel room in Toledo, Ohio
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Joe Biden is sworn in as vice president during the public ceremony by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2013
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Joe Biden (C), stands with his wife, Jill, and their family after addressing the nation from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on November 7, 2020
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PHOTOS: The Biden Family Album
Upon graduation, Hunter worked as a Jesuit volunteer at a church in Portland, Oregon for one year. He returned to Wilmington, and his father appointed him the deputy campaign manager for his Senate re-election bid, while he also worked as a lawyer with a Delaware-based banking holding company, MBNA America.
After leaving his executive vice president role at MBNA in 1998, he landed a position with the Clinton Administration as a policy director specializing in the internet economy. Three years later, the government and community relations department at St. Joseph’s University hired Hunter to solicit earmarks for one of the university’s student volunteer programs at an underprivileged high school in Philadelphia.
After former President Barack Obama selected Joe as his running mate in 2008, Hunter terminated his lobbying registrations, and also resigned from an unpaid seat on the board of Amtrak. In September of the same year, he launched Seneca Global Advisors, a boutique consulting firm, and following his father’s election as vice president, he co-founded a second company, Rosemont Seneca Partners, in June 2009.
Burisma Holdings Scandal
Hunter took a paid position on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings Limited in April 2014, later acknowledging that he most likely got the high-paying job because his father was overseeing U.S. policy in the country at the time, according to The New York Times. His role came under intense scrutiny during the 2020 presidential election, following Donald Trump’s unsupported accusation that Joe improperly tried to leverage his elected office to help Hunter’s business interests.
Trump claimed that Joe demanded the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor general, whom he believed had been investigating Hunter for corruption. Trump was ultimately impeached in 2019 on accusations that he broke the law by pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up damaging information on the Bidens, shortly after Trump had blocked the release of military aid to Ukraine.
Hunter announced his departure from Burisma’s board when his term expired in April 2019. A September 2020 Senate Republican investigation into corruption allegations against Joe and Hunter found no evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing by the former vice president, though they believed Hunter had “cashed in” on his father’s position.
With a letter of recommendation from former military intelligence officer Greg Keeley, the Navy granted Hunter an age waiver, and his father swore him into the Navy Reserves at a small, private ceremony at the White House in May 2013.
Hunter was assigned to a reserve unit at Naval Station Norfolk, and, after a few months, he received notice that a urine sample that had been taken his first day on duty detected cocaine in his system. Under Navy rules, a positive drug test typically triggers a discharge, according to The New Yorker. Hunter claimed he didn’t know how the drug got into his system, suggesting that a cigarette he’d been given by strangers outside a bar in Washington, D.C. could have been laced with cocaine.
Eventually deciding not to appeal the decision, Hunter was discharged on February 18, 2014, according to Navy records obtained by The New Yorker.
In a July 2019 profile in The New Yorker, Hunter described his decades-long struggle with alcohol addiction and drug abuse. He admitted himself to Crossroads Centre Antigua for a month in September 2003, and his brother, Beau, accompanied him to his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting upon his return. After seven years of sobriety, he suffered his first relapse in November 2010 when he drank three Bloody Marys on a flight home from a business trip to Madrid.
Hunter relapsed with alcohol, prescription medications and cocaine, which he says was only exacerbated following Beau’s death from brain cancer in 2015. “There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel — it’s a never-ending tunnel,” he told The New Yorker. “You don’t get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it.”
During Joe’s first presidential debate in September 2020, Trump called out Hunter’s addiction problems. “My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem,” the now president-elect replied. “He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.”
Children and Personal Life
While working as a Jesuit volunteer in Portland, Hunter met Kathleen Buhle, who got pregnant after three months of dating, and the pair married in July 1993. They have three daughters: Naomi, born in December 1993, Finnegan, born in September 1998 and Maisy, born in 2000.
Hunter’s struggles with alcoholism put a strain on the marriage, and during a couple’s therapy session, they reached an agreement that if he started drinking again, he would have to move out of the family home. Just after their twenty-second anniversary, Hunter left a therapy session, drank a bottle of vodka and moved out. Two months after Breitbart published a report that Hunter had a profile on Ashley Madison, a dating service for married people, under the name Robert Biden (He has denied the claims), he and Kathleen agreed to formally separate in October 2016.
Kathleen filed for divorce in December 2016, and in February 2017, she filed a motion in D.C. Superior Court seeking to freeze Hunter’s assets, alleging that he “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.”
The motion also revealed that Hunter was romantically involved with his late brother Beau’s widow, Hallie Olivere Biden. “We were sharing a very specific grief,” Hunter recalled to The New Yorker. “I started to think of Hallie as the only person in my life who understood my loss.” The New York Post broke the news in 2017, leading Joe to release a statement to the paper saying that the family was “lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness” and that they had his and Jill’s full support.
He and Hallie split in August 2017, with Hunter citing intense public scrutiny of their relationship and lack of privacy.
An Arkansas woman, Lunden Alexis Roberts, sued Hunter for child support in a paternity case, claiming he is the father of her child. He denied having sexual relations with the woman, but a November 2019 paternity test found “with scientific certainty” that Hunter is the child’s biological father. In March 2020, an Arkansas judge approved a final settlement requiring Hunter to pay an undisclosed monthly amount of child support and health insurance premiums.
In early May 2019, Hunter met a South African filmmaker named Melissa Cohen, and, less than a week after they met, he proposed. The pair married the following day, on May 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. Their son was born in March 2020.