Joe Biden's son poses as a shield for his father, whom Republicans want to dismiss

Hunter Biden, the son of the American president, held a rare press conference on Wednesday December 13 to clear his father of any involvement in his controversial affairs, scrutinized by the Republican opposition

Joe Biden's son poses as a shield for his father, whom Republicans want to dismiss

Hunter Biden, the son of the American president, held a rare press conference on Wednesday December 13 to clear his father of any involvement in his controversial affairs, scrutinized by the Republican opposition. “Let me say this as clearly as possible: my father was never financially involved in my business,” the 50-year-old told the US Congress, his tone serious. “Not when I was a lawyer, not when I was on the board of [Ukrainian gas giant] Burisma, not when I did business with a Chinese man, not when I made investments here or at abroad, and certainly not when I was an artist,” he enumerated.

The White House, which maintains as much distance as possible from the impeachment investigation opened by conservatives, limited itself to commenting on Wednesday that Hunter Biden had “spoken from his heart” as a “citizen”. President Joe Biden was “aware” of what his son was going to say, his spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said during his regular press briefing. The Democrat and his wife, Jill Biden, "are proud of [Hunter Biden] as he continues to rebuild his life," and for the rest, the president "is focused on the important work he must do for the American people,” she said.

Conservatives, a majority in one of the two chambers of the American Congress, accuse Joe Biden of having used his influence when he was Barack Obama's vice-president (2009-2017) to allow his son to do questionable business in China and in Ukraine. They have, for this reason, opened an impeachment inquiry in Congress, which they intend to formalize on Wednesday afternoon. The president, the Democrats and his son deny these accusations en bloc.

A privileged target of the American right

Hunter Biden, a 53-year-old former businessman, has become a favorite target of the American right. Before the American Congress on Wednesday, the fifty-year-old, with a past strewn with addictions and indicted in two cases by the courts, admitted “to having made mistakes in his life”. But he accused “Trumpists” of trying to “dehumanize” him to “harm” his father. “For six years, they have (…) violated my privacy, targeted my wife, my children, my family, my friends. They ridiculed my battle with addiction,” he said.

For this reason, Mr. Biden refused to participate in a closed-door hearing organized by the Republicans, who had subpoenaed him to appear at the Capitol on Wednesday. Joe Biden never spoke in detail about Hunter's troubles, but he always assured him of his fatherly love. “During my fight against addiction, my parents were there for me, they literally saved my life,” his youngest son confided Wednesday.

In his book Les Belles Choses (2021), Hunter Biden recounts the vodka drunk from the bottle, the nocturnal wanderings in search of crack around seedy convenience stores, the failed attempts at detoxification. The fifty-year-old says he is now “clean”. Remarried and father of a little boy named Beau like his late brother, he turned to painting.

Hunter Biden, whom the American president sometimes calls his “only surviving son”, is for Joe Biden a source of political complications but also of personal torment. The US president lost his first wife and a baby daughter in a car accident in 1972, in which his other two sons from that first marriage, Hunter and Beau, were seriously injured. Beau Biden, the Democrat's darling, died in 2015 of brain cancer.