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Hunter Biden Verdict
First lady Jill Biden attended multiple days of Hunter Biden’s trial, even flying back from France for one of them. Matt Rourke/AP

Joe Biden Makes Addiction the Focus of Hunter’s Conviction

Hunter Biden was found guilty of all charges related to possessing a gun while on narcotics.

President Joe Biden responded to his son Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict on Tuesday as a father, framing it as a family matter divorced from politics — and one that many Americans can relate to.

The president’s statement on the verdict discussed his and first lady Jill Biden’s love for Hunter and his struggles with addiction. It reiterated they will respect the verdict. Soon after, the White House announced Joe Biden would make a last-minute trip to his family home in Wilmington, Delaware, presumably to be with family after Hunter was found guilty on three gun-related felony counts. When the president made a speech Tuesday afternoon, however, he didn’t address it at all.

“As I said last week, I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” he said in his post-verdict statement. As former President Donald Trump and other Republicans seized on the verdict to insist the Bidens are marred by corruption, the president and his allies have tried to set their own narrative. The Bidens aren’t a crime family, Democrats say: They’re one of millions of families affected by addiction. They aren’t orchestrating a two-tiered justice system to target Trump, they are proof that even presidents’ families are not above the law. And they don’t think Hunter’s legal woes should — or will — impact voters’ views of who belongs in the White House.

“This is definitely sad for President Biden and his family,” said a source close to the campaign. “I think most people working on the campaign and the American people do not equate Hunter Biden having any impact on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s election prospects.”

Hunter Biden was found guilty on three felony counts: two for making false statements on a background check and a third for possession of a firearm as an addict in 2018. The president’s only surviving son has been open about his struggles with addiction, even detailing his drug use in his 2021 memoir. Many of those passages were used against him in court last week.

Millions of Americans have substance abuse issues or loved ones who struggle with them. A 2023 poll from KFF found that two-thirds of respondents say they or a family member suffered from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, making addiction a pervasive issue that draws sympathy from all corners of the country.

“So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery,” the president said in his statement.

The president has often been concerned about his son’s struggles, according to those close to him. And the less-than-two-week trial represented a show of force from the Biden family, with multiple members sitting behind Hunter in the Delaware court, including Jill Biden, whom he calls “Mom.”

When the first couple were in France last week for D-Day, the first lady flew back to Wilmington to attend an emotional day of trial when Hunter’s eldest daughter, Naomi, testified in his defense, before returning to Paris. Before his trip, the president spent days at his family homes in Delaware, with Hunter often in tow. And on Tuesday, Hunter walked out of the courtroom hand in hand with Jill Biden and his wife, Melissa, after the verdict.

In his own statement to reporters, Hunter Biden said he was more “grateful today for the love and support I experienced this last week from Melissa, my family, my friends and my community than I am disappointed by the outcome.” And his lawyer has said that they will pursue “all the legal challenges available to Hunter.”

The president said in an interview earlier this month that he would not pardon his son, and reiterated his vow to respect the process in his statement Tuesday.

“I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” Biden said. “Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.”

The president is scheduled to return to Europe on Wednesday, flying to Italy for the G7 Summit. When he returns, much of his focus will shift to preparing for his first debate against Trump on June 27, where the issue of both his son’s conviction and the former president’s will likely be a topic of conversation.

While Trump has focused a sizable amount of his attacks against the Bidens over business dealings, his campaign notably stayed away from criticizing Hunter Biden’s addiction or the gun verdict.

“This trial has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family,” the Trump campaign said in a statement concerning the verdict.

Jasmine Wright is a reporter at NOTUS.