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Could Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden derail his father's 2020 presidential bid?

Hunter, an attorney who specializes in health care and renewable energy, has come under intense scrutiny over his business dealings with Ukraine and China
UPDATED MAY 16, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been making headlines for being the frontrunner of the 2020 Democratic field of at least 23 candidates despite facing setbacks last month with concerns about his behavior. However, there is another Biden family member who has been in the news recently - the former VP's younger son Hunter Biden - and for reasons which may not bode well for Joe's presidential run.

Hunter, an attorney who specializes in health care and renewable energy, has come under intense scrutiny over his business dealings with Ukraine and China, particularly in light of Joe's bid for the White House. Joe Biden's involvement in the said business dealings has also seen allegations with regards to his capacity as the Vice President under President Barack Obama.

Hunter is on the board of directors of Bursima Holdings, Ukraine's largest non-governmental gas producer. Hunter's company, according to a New York Post op-ed, allegedly received over $3 million during a 14-month period when his father was the point person on Ukraine policy for the Obama administration.

Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer, in an interview with The Hill, also detailed these payments and called for Hunter to testify before the US Senate about his business dealings. "In the case of the Ukraine, the very energy company that was paying Hunter Biden millions of dollars was under investigation in the Ukraine for corruption," Schweizer told the outlet. "Ukrainian officials have claimed that Joe Biden pressured them to suspend or end that investigation. That’s in fact what the Ukraine did."

President of the United States Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and Hunter Biden (son of Joe Biden) talk during a college basketball game between Georgetown Hoyas and the Duke Blue Devils on January 30, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC. (Getty Images)

Joe Biden, however, has clarified the issue, stating his son's business dealings was not a consideration in pressuring Ukraine to fire its prosecutor general. The decision was made "without any regard for how it would or would not impact any business interests of his son, a private citizen.” A statement was also released by Hunter who declared, "at no time have I discussed with my father the company’s business, or my board service, including my initial decision to join the board."

While the controversy over Hunter's alleged business dealings is gathering heat in the media, there is a possibility that it could affect the former Vice President's campaign. However, experts believe that these unsubstantiated reports will not do much to affect Joe's ratings in the upcoming polls.

"I don't think Biden's family will harm him much in the primary or presumably, the general election. We are witnessing a time, at least as far as conservatives go, where policy matters more than values and family relations and their behavior. I believe this phenomenon will travel over to Biden and the Democrats as well," Craig Douglas Albert, Associate Professor of Political Science with Augusta University, said.

"Right now, the democratic party is thinking: anything possible to defeat Trump. Thus Biden's family concerns will not be a huge factor, neither, will Biden's indiscretions as demonstrated by his continued domination in the polls even with the knowledge of 'invading people's personal space'.  Biden is the best bet to defeat President Trump, and for the majority of moderate Democrats, this is the most important point," the professor added.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Hunter received a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. After graduating from college, he became a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest where he met his wife Kathllen Buhle.

He became a founding partner of a Washington-based firm Oldaker, Biden, and Belair, LLP. He also served as a partner and board member of the mergers and acquisitions firm Eudora Global. Hunter was appointed by Bill Clinton to serve in the United States Department of Commerce under Secretaries Norman Mineta and William M. Daley. He was the director of e-commerce policy issues in the Department of Commerce.

(R-L) Attorney General of Delaware Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, and Ashley Biden watch their father Democratic vice presidential candidate, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on September 6, 2012, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Getty Images)

He was later selected as a direct commission officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, a program allowing civilians with no prior service to receive a limited duty officer's commission. Hunter, at this point, had struggled with drug use over the years and was reportedly discharged from the reserver in 2014 after testing positive for cocaine.

The younger Biden separated from his wife in 2015, with whom he has three daughters. The pair divorced in 2017. Hunter began dating his former sister-in-law Hallie Olivere after his brother, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer. Their relationship was confirmed by Joe Biden who said he and his wife Jill supported the couple as "they found each other together after such sadness." The pair, however, separated last month.