Joe Biden's Son Hunter Tells All — About Dating His Brother's Widow, Meeting New Wife, Addiction Problems and Dad's Unfailing Support
Hunter gave The New Yorker his lengthiest comments to date on the headlines that have recently swirled around him
In a new and candid series of interviews with The New Yorker, Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden had much to say about his drug and alcohol problems, his relationship with his father, his business and romantic relationships and his brother’s death.
And he had some choice words for President Donald Trump.
Reflecting on a recent night in which a helicopter had flown close to him after Trump mentioned him, Hunter, 49, told the magazine that he told his new wife, Melissa Cohen, “I don’t care. F— you, Mr. President. Here I am, living my life.”
The profile, published Monday morning, gives Hunter’s lengthiest comments to date on the headlines that have recently swirled around him.
Over “weeks of conversations,” according to The New Yorker, he addressed his divorce from first wife Kathleen, with whom he shares three children, as well as dating older brother Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, following Beau’s death from brain cancer.
For the first time, Hunter also discussed Cohen, whom he wed in May days after they met.
Much of the piece, though, details Hunter’s professional work over the years — and the controversies that work has occasionally created for his father — as well as his years-long issues with drinking and drugs, including recurring stints in rehab.
“Everybody has trauma. There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness,” Hunter said. “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.”
Throughout the ups and downs of his life, Hunter told The New Yorker, he has relied on his father and his father has relied on him.
“I’m like his security blanket,” Hunter said of the former vice president, 76, who is the leading contender to challenge President Trump in next year’s election.
“I don’t tell the staff what to do. I’m not there giving directions or orders. I shake everybody’s hands,” Hunter continued. “And then I tell [my father] to close his eyes on the bus. I can say things to him that nobody else can.”
Hunter also told The New Yorker he personally appealed to his father to issue a statement in support of his relationship with Hallie after it was made public by the New York Post‘s Page Six in 2017. (Hallie, as well as others in the Biden family, declined to talk to the magazine.)
“I said, ‘Dad, Dad, you have to,’ ” Hunter recalled. “He said, ‘Hunter, I don’t know if I should. But I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ I said, ‘Dad, if people find out, but they think you’re not approving of this, it makes it seem wrong. The kids have to know, Dad, that there’s nothing wrong with this, and the one person who can tell them that is you.’ “
In a statement to the Post at the time, Vice President Biden said: “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness. They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”
According to The New Yorker, Hunter and Hallie grew closer in 2016 after a summer trip with their children. He began spending many nights at her home, watching TV.
“We were sharing a very specific grief,” he told the magazine. “I started to think of Hallie as the only person in my life who understood my loss.”
As family friend Lea Carpenter told PEOPLE in 2017: “No two brothers were as close as Hunter and Beau. And anyone moved to judgment now has no knowledge of the grace and strength with which Hunter and Hallie have navigated the last four years.”
Still, the relationship did not last, Hunter told The New Yorker. “All we got was s— from everybody, all the time,” he said. “It was really hard. And I realized that I’m not helping anybody by sticking around.”
Hallie and Hunter had begun dating in the fall of 2016 after he left the Grace Grove Lifestyle Center in Arizona. That marked his eleventh effort to get better since 2003, when he “admitted himself to Crossroads Centre Antigua for a month” after realizing he had issues with alcohol, according to The New Yorker. He also began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
“When I found myself making the decision to have another drink or get on a train [home], I knew I had a problem,” Hunter said.
According to the magazine, Hunter first relapsed in November 2010, after seven years of sobriety, and then again in 2013. He returned to Crossroads after the 2010 relapse and then, after the 2013 relapse, sought out a Mexican clinic that used the psychoactive substance ibogaine as a form of treatment. He also met with an expert in Vedic meditation in Arizona. In the fall of 2014 he went to a 12-step retreat and in 2015 he went to rehab at a center out of the University of Pennsylvania followed by an inpatient program and another program in Washington, D.C., that required a Breathalyzer. He returned to the 12-step retreat in February 2016 before entering another rehab in D.C. That same year, he went to Grace Grove.
Though he relocated to Maryland in August 2017, he and Hallie broke up “several months later,” according to The New Yorker. But their split did not become public for more than a year. Within weeks of that most recent headline, he met Cohen, a documentary filmmaker, in Los Angeles.
He got a tattoo to match hers — “shalom,” in Hebrew, on his left bicep — days after their first date, according to The New Yorker. He proposed within a week of meeting her. After they married, with “the simplest gold wedding bands he could find,” according to the magazine, he called his father.
“He was on speaker, and he said to her, ‘Thank you for giving my son the courage to love again,’ ” Hunter said of his dad.
The former vice president told Hunter, “Honey, I knew that when you found love again that I’d get you back,” Hunter said.
His response: “Dad, I always had love. And the only thing that allowed me to see it was the fact that you never gave up on me, you always believed in me.” As with his relationship with Hallie, word of his new wife spread quickly to reporters.
That is not the only reason Hunter has been in the news, however: He was recently sued in Arkansas by a woman who claims he had a child with her but is ignoring the baby.
He said he never had sex with her, according to The New Yorker. (“She does not want this to affect Joe Biden’s campaign, she just wants this baby to get financial support,” her attorney has said.)
Hunter has also faced scrutiny from conservative activists and Trump allies about whether he ever did improper work in Ukraine — allegations others have dismissed as a baseless right-wing “conspiracy” spread in part by the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. (Hunter has not been accused of a crime.)
Years earlier, Hunter worked as a lobbyist while his father was in office, creating its own image problems.
“I would never have been able to predict that Donald Trump would have picked me out as the tip of the spear against the one person they believe can beat them,” Hunter told The New Yorker.
He said that, in their own private discussions, he and his father “both realize that the only true antidote to any of this is winning. He says, ‘Look, it’s going to go away.’ There is truly a higher purpose here, and this will go away. So can you survive the assault?”