In what is widely being considered one of the lowest points of the chaotic first Presidential debate, US President Donald Trump Tuesday launched a personal attack on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden
During the first debate, Biden paid tribute to his late son Beau — who served in the military during the Iraq war — and slammed Trump for disparaging comments he had allegedly made earlier about fallen soldiers.
Trump hit back by bringing up Hunter Biden’s struggle with drug addiction, and claimed he got “millions of dollars” from China, Moscow and Ukraine while his father was serving as the Vice President of the United States.
Here is everything you need to know about Biden’s sons and why they were mentioned during the presidential debate.
Who was Beau Biden?
Beau Biden was Joe Biden’s eldest son. Before passing away from brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46, Beau had followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a career in politics. He served as the 44th Attorney General of the US state of Delaware between 2007 and 2015.
Joe Biden had always hoped his eldest son would one day be elected President of the United States. “I was pretty sure Beau could run for president someday, and, with his brother’s help, he could win,” he had written in his memoir ‘Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose’. Beau was also a prominent fixture during the campaign trails in 2008 and 2012, when his father was then-President Barack Obama’s running mate.
Thinking of @JoeBiden, @DrBiden and the entire Biden family today. Beau Biden was my friend. We were AGs together, and you couldn’t find a person who cared more deeply for his family, the nation he served, and the state of Delaware. Four years after his passing, I still miss him. pic.twitter.com/b7lP3TwxYq
While serving as Attorney General of Delaware, Beau was close friends with his father’s current running mate Kamala Harris. Harris was the Attorney General of California at the time. In fact, she has said that she first got to know Joe Biden through his son Beau.
In 2003, Beau served in the Army National Guard as a major in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. He was deployed in Iraq for a year in 2008, for which he was later awarded the prestigious Bronze Star Medal.
Beau married his wife Hallie Olivere in 2002, with whom he has two children.
Beau’s death was not the first tragedy to hit the Biden family. In 1972, Joe Biden’s first wife Neila Hunter and daughter Naomi passed away in a car crash. Beau and Hunter were also in the car, but escaped with severe injuries.
Who is Hunter Biden?
Born Robert Hunter Biden, he is the second son of the presidential hopeful. Hunter has been linked with several scandals, and both his personal and professional lives have been used by Joe Biden’s political adversaries in numerous attempts to sink his career.
Hunter, now 50, has worked as a businessman, lobbyist and as a member on many international boards. For a long time, Republicans have accused Hunter of exploiting his father’s position as Vice President of the United States to forge partnerships with businesses in China and Ukraine.
During a press conference in October 2019, President Trump even suggested that China had paid Hunter a considerable amount of money to get his father to finalise some lucrative trade deals with the country.
Trump’s comments were about a private-equity firm called BHR partners that Hunter co-founded with Devon Archer, a former model, and a few state-owned Chinese companies, including the Bank of China. According to a report by The New Yorker, Hunter was an unpaid member of the company’s board and did not take equity until after his father’s term as Vice President came to an end. There is still no evidence to prove that Hunter had broken any laws at the time.
The role Hunter played on the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma took centre stage at the presidential debate. Earlier this year, Trump was impeached over allegations that he sought help from Ukraine’s leader to dig up damaging information about the Biden family ahead of the presidential election, BBC reported. Trump was later cleared on two charges by a majority of senators at his trial.
Hunter has been open about his struggle with alcoholism and substance abuse. In 2014, he was discharged from the Navy Reserve after he failed a drug test for cocaine. His divorce from his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle in 2017 also made headlines. The couple share three children.
Soon after separating from Kathleen, Hunter began dating his late brother’s widow Hallie. “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness,” his father said in an interview with tabloid Page Six in 2017.
Biden married South African filmmaker Melissa Cohen in 2019, with whom he has a child.
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What was said about Beau and Hunter during the presidential debate?
President Trump attacked Hunter when Joe Biden brought up The Atlantic report that suggested he had called fallen soldiers “losers”. Speaking about Beau, Biden said, “My son was in Iraq. He spent a year there. He was not a loser, he was a patriot and the people left behind there are heroes.”
Trump quickly retorted by bringing up Hunter Biden’s business dealings and drug addiction. “Oh, really? Are you talking about Hunter?” He asked. When Biden clarified he was talking about Beau, Trump said, “I don’t know Beau.”
“I know Hunter. Hunter got thrown out of the military…he was dishonourably discharged for cocaine use,” he added. Trump’s claim has since been refuted by several political commentators who pointed out that Hunter was administratively separated from the military and not dishonourably discharged.
“My son, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem,” Biden responded. “He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it, and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my son.”
Trump also claimed that the Mayor of Moscow paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million, an allegation that is yet to be proven.
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