President Joe Biden in recent days has been inundating his son Hunter with messages checking in on his well-being, a development which has aides concern he is on the verge of a breakdown.
Behind closed doors, the fear of Hunter’s prosecution on multiple tax and gun charges has become an ever-present weight on the aging president, according to POLITICO. Some days, Biden will text his son and on other days make a call and leave a voice message. Increasingly, sources say, his words have been peppered with a fresh sense of urgency.
“I know when he hurts. He doesn’t talk about it much, most of us don’t,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT.), a longtime friend of President Biden. “He has a real human decency, and a lot of it is created by scarring. And he’s worried.”
As the president’s only surviving son, Hunter has a special role in President Biden’s life, one that has been tainted by his deep addictions to drugs and alcohol and later by federal charges alleging he skimped on millions of dollars in tax payments for years, even after claiming he gained sobriety. Earlier this week, Hunter caused his father additional heartache by blowing off a congressional subpoena, a move which Biden himself has said in the past is worthy of prosecution.
Biden’s biggest fear, sources say, is that his son will backslide into addiction.
“You can see it in his eyes, and you can see his shoulders slump,” said one confidant of the president in describing a recent conversation. “He’s so worried about Hunter. And we’re worried it could consume him.”
In a 2018 voice message published by The Daily Mail, President Biden told Hunter he wished his son good luck in recovery but felt powerless to help.
“It’s Dad. I’m calling to tell you I love you. I love you more than the whole world, pal,” Biden said at the time, sounding emotional. “You gotta get some help. I don’t know what to do. I know you don’t either.”
As the pressure has mounted on the White House to disentangle the president from his family’s questionable business dealings, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has framed the messages as a father concerned for his son’s well-being, not directives on how to avoid prison time.
“The president has said over and over again: He’s proud of his son,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre this week, “and he is proud of him building his life back up.”
Hunter faces up to 17 years in prison on charges he falsified tax records in both Delaware and California. Special counsel David Weiss is leading the effort following his appointment by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Biden remains frustrated with Garland, sources say, comparing him to former FBI Director James Comey and claiming both have been more interested in the appearance of impartiality than simply doing the right thing.
At the same time, House Republicans continue to hunt through documents detailing a network of shell companies set up by Hunter and business associates that enriched multiple members of the family, including President Biden who has admitted he had no knowledge of the schemes and did nothing wrong.