"I take this matter very seriously," Hunter said in a statement on Wednesday

By Sean Neumann
December 09, 2020 06:03 PM
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Hunter Biden
| Credit: Kris Connor/WireImage

Hunter Biden announced Wednesday that he was under a federal investigation over his “tax affairs,” according to a statement sent by President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.

"I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs," Hunter, 50, said in his statement.

"I take this matter very seriously," he continued, "but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors."

A second statement provided by the transition team said that “President-elect Biden is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”

Further information about the investigation was not immediately available.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware declined to comment to PEOPLE, citing policy about ongoing investigations.

A spokesman for Biden's transition team did not have further comment. A lawyer for Hunter did not respond to an email.

From left: Hunter Biden, his new baby and President-Elect Joe Biden in November
| Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
Hunter Biden (left) and Joe Biden
| Credit: Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images

Hunter, the president-elect’s younger son, has been a lightning rod for conservatives as part of Donald Trump's unsuccessful campaign against the elder Biden, who will be sworn in next month.

Hunter's past business dealings and personal struggles featured prominently in Trump's attacks against the Bidens — and Trump's quest for any kind of incriminating material led to his impeachment last year.

A House of Representatives investigation charged the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as a result of what lawmakers said was a pressure campaign against Ukrainian officials: information on the Bidens, including Hunter, in exchange for military aid.

Trump was later acquitted by the Senate's Republican majority.

Nonetheless he and his allies continued to attack Hunter, both for his professional career and his history of drug use and rehab, about which Hunter has been candid.

Despite Trump's argument that the Biden family was corrupt, officials have repeatedly said there is no evidence of wrongdoing between Hunter's business and the elder Biden's political career. (Some government officials acknowledged, however, that it created at least the perception of a conflict and Hunter has said it showed "poor judgment.")

Hunter Biden
| Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Hunter's tumultuous love life has also made headlines in recent years.

He married wife Melissa Cohen in May 2019, days after they had met. He separated from his first wife, Kathleen Buhle, in 2017 — sparking a divorce in which she claimed in her court filings that he had spent money on prostitutes and drugs — and he went on to date older brother Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, following Beau’s death from brain cancer.

At the time, President-elect Biden spoke supportively of Hunter and Hallie's relationship, saying in a joint statement with wife Jill Biden: "We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness."

Hunter connected with Cohen, a South African filmmaker, in Los Angeles last year; he and Hallie had broken up sometime around late 2017.

Cohen gave birth to their son earlier this year. (Hunter also has three kids with Buhle, his first wife, and a child with a woman in Arkansas who had sued him over paternity.)

Hunter, Cohen and their son appeared on stage with his father when the president-elect declared victory four days after polls closed on Nov. 3.

The elder Biden has referred to Hunter as his “heart,” while calling Beau, who died in 2015, his “soul.”

"Hunter has been through some tough times," Biden told CNN in 2019, "but he's fighting."

"Look, everybody faces pain,” Hunter told The New Yorker that same year, in a series of candid conversations about his ups and downs and recovery from drug use. “Everybody has trauma. 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.”

Earlier this year, Hunter told The New York Times that his painting hobby was also a reprieve.

"[It] is literally keeping me sane,” he said then.

“The one thing I have left is my art,” he told the Times. “It’s the one thing they can’t take away from me or conflate with anything else.”

• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON