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President Joe Biden’s dilemma with Hunter Biden is increasing

Anthony Zurcher,North American correspondent

Getty Images Joe and Hunter Biden are seen together in April 2024beautiful images

As jury selection in Hunter Biden’s gun possession trial began on Monday, his father issued a statement illustrating the fine line he is trying to walk amid the re-election campaign. his election.

“I’m the president, but I’m also a father,” Joe Biden said.

His statement continued to express support for his son, who could face up to 25 years in prison for allegedly lying about drug addiction when filling out background documents for gun purchases. short in 2018.

“As president, I do not and will not comment on pending federal cases,” he continued. “But as a father, I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him and respect for his strength.”

Hunter Biden’s struggles with drug addiction are common at this point. He discussed them publicly and wrote about them in his memoirs – revelations that would soon serve as evidence in his trial and as fodder for public consumption.

Joe Biden has previously publicly addressed his son’s tumultuous personal life. During the first presidential debate with Donald Trump in 2020, he said he was “proud” of his only surviving son.

“My son, like many people you know at home, has a drug problem,” he said. “He got over it. He already fixed it. He worked on it.

Four years ago, President Biden responded to Trump’s attacks on the debate stage. Now, however, his statement may be an attempt to defuse what is shaping up to be a politically fraught moment, where his son’s troubled past – and by extension turns out to be that of the entire Biden family – will be fully exposed.

Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, is expected to testify about her ex-husband’s drug habits. Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter Biden’s brother Beau – with whom Hunter later had a relationship and who dumped the handgun in question in a trash can in Delaware – is also on the agency’s witness list. prosecutor.

“It’s definitely not a good look,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who has written several books about American presidents, their families and first ladies. She said past presidents have faced family turmoil. For example, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter had to deal with sibling embarrassment.

However, it is completely unprecedented for a president’s son to face a criminal trial, and it has left the elder Biden on a tightrope.

He spent time with his son in Delaware this weekend and stayed in Wilmington – where the trial will take place – on Sunday night. During jury selection on Monday, the Biden family was well represented.

But by then the president had returned to Washington. While he expressed his support for his son, he was also keeping his distance from the case itself.

Getty Images Jill Biden was seen arriving at the courthouse accompanied by security guards and policebeautiful images

But First Lady Jill Biden attended and sat behind Hunter. The two hugged during a morning break during the trial and again after the day ended. She was joined by Hunter’s current wife, Melissa Cohen Biden – who held his hand as he walked out of the courthouse – and his half-sister, Ashley Biden, and her husband.

Jill Biden married the president after his first wife, Hunter Biden’s mother, died in a 1972 car accident that injured Hunter and Beau. The accident also claimed the life of their younger sister, Naomi.

The president frequently speaks of his family’s closeness – and has made this devotion part of his political identity.

He talked about how he would take the train from Washington to Delaware every night as a U.S. senator so he could say good night to his children. He wrote a book about coping with grief after Beau Biden’s death from brain cancer in 2016 and has discussed the emotional trauma he experienced after his first wife’s death. fairy.

Now, the more salacious aspects of the Biden family story will be exposed to the public, such as text messages between Hunter Biden and his family – including intimate communication with his widow. Beau.

There will also be photos and other details about Hunter Biden’s cocaine use. Some of that information may have been gleaned from laptops, whose existence and contents became part of the controversy in the final days of the 2020 presidential election.

Hunter Biden’s trial comes on the heels of one of the biggest stories of the 2024 presidential election so far — Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Although the two cases are significantly different – charges against a candidate and the candidate’s son – the pace of the two trials will inevitably draw comparisons.

Getty Images Hunter Biden looks at reporters outside the Delaware courthouse on Mondaybeautiful images

Hunter Biden looks at reporters outside the Delaware courthouse on Monday

At the very least, the focused attention on the Biden family tragedy and Hunter Biden’s legal troubles will shift media attention away from Trump. And the legal issues surrounding his son may make Mr. Biden more reluctant to attack Trump’s criminal conviction.

It could also be a significant distraction for a president entering the final campaign of his political career.

“It will be very difficult on a personal level for Biden,” Brower said. “He had the experience of trying to separate his personal life from his public life, but that was his only surviving son. It has to be very taxing.”

There is another way Hunter Biden’s legal playbook differs from Trump’s. The former president’s three other criminal cases likely won’t come before November’s election.

However, Hunter Biden was also indicted on federal tax charges and his trial is scheduled for September.

That case, which deals with the alleged failure to pay taxes on at least $1.4 million over four years, could be more politically damaging for the president, because it involves financial crimes rather than crimes. regarding his drug addiction.

“Tax evasion is much harder to defend,” Bower said.

If Hunter Biden is convicted in either federal trial, his father’s president has the power to pardon him.

Such a move would have been politically damaging in the past, but Trump has exercised his pardon power on a series of controversial figures who worked for him and appears to have paid little price. for that.

While it’s a move dad Joe Biden might find appealing — he maintains his son is innocent — the White House insists it’s not being considered.

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