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Hunter Biden: the president-elect's second son who was the target of Donald Trump's attacks

Joe Biden’s second son was a primary target for attacks by Donald Trump during the bitter 2020 presidential campaign.

Indeed, it was Trump’s accusations of impropriety on behalf of Hunter Biden that led him to threaten to withhold $391 million (£289 million) in military aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the Biden family’s business dealings. That threat led to the first impeachment of Trump.

Born in 1970 to Joe and his first wife Neilia, Hunter’s early life was marred by tragedy. When he was just two years old, he was seriously injured in a car crash that killed his mother and younger sister, Naomi.

Family tragedy would strike again in 2015, when his older brother Beau, who served as the Attorney General for the state of Delaware, died of brain cancer aged just 46.

Unlike his father and brother, Hunter Biden has attempted to stay away from front-line politics. After graduating from Yale Law School, he joined MBNA Bank, which provided significant contributions to his father’s political campaigns.

After a brief stint as a lobbyist, he was appointed by George W Bush to the board of directors of Amtrak, the state-owned railway network company.

His business career took off in 2013, when he joined the board BHR partners, a Chinese private equity firm. In 2014, he joined the board of Burisma Holdings, which was run by Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.

Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma, despite objections from some inside the Obama administration, who thought the move may raise a potential conflict of interest for his father, who was Barack Obama’s Vice President at the time.

It was this position that brought him into the political crosshairs of Donald Trump. When Joe Biden began campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019, Trump immediately identified him as his greatest threat politically.

While working under Obama, Joe Biden encouraged the Ukrainian government to dismiss Viktor Shokin in 2016, the country’s top prosecutor at the time.

This was interpreted, without evidence, by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a move to protect Hunter Biden from investigation.

As a result, in July 2019, Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and threatened to withhold $391 million in military aid unless Mr Zelensky launched an investigation into the Biden’s.

Read more: How to watch Joe Biden's inauguration live

A whistleblower in the Trump administration accused the 45th President of attempting to gain quid pro quo co-operation from Ukraine. Trump was impeached by the House for the phone call, but acquitted by a trial in the Senate.

Both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden have always denied any wrongdoing over the Ukraine affair. Mr Biden's attempt to oust Mr Shokin was US government policy at the time, matched by European allies, amid fears the prosecutor was not being tough enough on corruption.

In October of last year, the Trump campaign continued their attacks on Hunter and his business dealings with Ukraine, after a story emerged in the New York Post, accusing the 50-year-old of setting up meetings between his business partners and his father in 2015.

The Post said it had obtained leaked emails from Mr Biden’s laptop, a fact that was seized upon by Mr Giuliani and the Trump campaign. Although the FBI seized the laptop, it has not been determined if the emails are authentic or if a meeting between the President-elect and Ukrainian officials ever took place.

Joe Biden said the stories just before the November election linked to his son's laptop were part of a politically-driven "smear" campaign designed to hurt his presidential bid. 

The attacks on Hunter Biden did not end at this point. During the final presidential debate, Trump brought one of Hunter’s former business associates along to sit and watch proceedings.

Before the debate began, Tony Bobulinski claimed Joe Biden stood to gain from a venture with a Chinese oil company put forward by his son. Joe Biden firmly denied the allegation, saying: “I have not taken any money from any foreign country in my life, ever.”

In December last year, Hunter announced that his tax affairs were under investigation by federal authorities. 

Although he did not provide an explanation into what started the investigation, CNN and the New York Times both reported that it began in late 2018 and was related to potential violations of tax and money laundering laws and his business dealings in foreign countries, principally China.

Away from politics, Hunter Biden has spoken of his battles with addiction. He was dismissed from the Navy Reserves in 2014 following a positive test for cocaine and has frequently discussed his decades-long problem with alcohol.

“There's addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel—it's a never-ending tunnel. You don't get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it.”

Hunter Biden has been married twice and has three children with his first wife, Kathleen Buhle, and a son via his second wife Melissa Cohen, as well as a son born of a relationship with Lunden Alexis Roberts.

In 2016, his personal life was the focus of media discussion, after he began dating Hallie Biden, the widow of his recently-deceased brother Beau.

Despite his sometimes colourful past, his father Joe has continued to stand by him, saying at the final presidential debate: "I'm proud of him. I'm proud of my son."

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