Hunter Biden opens up about relationship with brother Beau’s widow
Hunter Biden, the son of US president Joe Biden, published his new memoir Beautiful Things on Tuesday in which he recounts his long-running battle with drink and drugs, the grief of losing his mother and infant sister as a child, and later his elder brother Beau, and the attacks he suffered from Donald Trump and his conspiracy-minded supporters.
In his latest interview to promote the book, Mr Biden told the BBC of his fight against alcoholism and crack cocaine: “There’s something at the centre of each addict that’s missing, that they feel that they need to fill… Nothing can possibly fill it. And so you numb yourself.”
Mr Biden provides an uncompromising look at his struggles with addiction and his attempts to reclaim his life, in a deeply personal memoir, now available in bookstores as well as online.
Here’s our full summary — assembled live during the read-through — of the most shocking and emotional moments from the book.
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of Hunter Biden’s stark new memoir and the wild world of American politics.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 08:52
Hunter Biden’s frank new memoir published detailing drink and drugs battle
The son of US president Joe Biden publishes his new memoir Beautiful Things on Tuesday in which he recounts his long-running battle with drink and drugs, the grief of losing his mother as a child and later his elder brother Beau and the attacks he suffered from Donald Trump and his conspiracy-minded allies.
Here are all the revelations the author has discussed in advance on his extensive media tour to promote the book.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 09:05
President’s son talks Trump, Burisma and ‘the pandemic of addiction’
In his latest interview to promote the book with the BBC, Hunter Biden said he had no regrets over serving on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma despite Donald Trump seeking to drum up conflict of interest concerns over his role, given that his father, then the US vice president, was calling out corporate corruption in the country.
Biden did admit that he “missed… the perception that I would create. I know that it is hard to believe with 2020 hindsight how I could possibly have missed that”.
“My life is not a tabloid,” he told Mishal Husain for Radio 4’s Today programme of his extraordinary story. “I don’t belong to an administration, I belong to a family.”
He said his book is about “the love of a family and how it saved me,” adding that he took full responsibility for “creating a story… that anyone conscious would know would be a tabloid sensation” and that: “We’re going through two pandemics right now… there’s the pandemic of coronavirus, and there’s a pandemic of addiction too.”
On the death of his brother and its catalytic effect on his drug use, Biden told Husain is sent him to “a really dark, dark place”.
“There’s something at the centre of each addict that’s missing, that they feel that they need to fill… Nothing can possibly fill it. And so you numb yourself,” he said.
“My brother had just died, I’d separated with my wife, I was in an apartment by myself, and I was basically drinking myself to death. It was awful. I mean, grief does funny things. And combine that with addiction and it is a really hard thing to overcome.”
He spoke fondly of his father, saying the president “intuitively knew what to say” and that he expects him to run again in 2024 when he will be 82: “My dad is younger than me in his physical and mental capacity… I don’t know anyone that has more energy.”
“I think what people see in the Biden family is their family. I think that they see all of the tragedy in loss, but they see all the love and sincerity. And I think that they see that we’re not much different than any other family out there,” he added.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 09:25
Rudy Giuliani claims Biden book ‘reveals many crimes ignored by the crooked media and FBI’
The president’s disgraced former attorney (once considered “America’s mayor”), who flew to Ukraine in spring 2018 in search of “evidence” to support his ludicrous Hunter Biden conspiracy theory cottage industry, is already out there attacking his new addiction memoir.
Another Trump crony, ex-US ambassador to Germany and acting national intelligence director Richard Grenell, has also been on the attack.
CNN’s media pundit Brian Stelter, no stranger to the political biography, is unsurprisingly more positive.
Shawn McCreesh of The New York Times calls it “Pulp Nonfiction”.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 09:45
Hunter Biden on his relationship with brother’s widow: ‘It came out of overwhelming grief’
Let’s take a look at some of the key passages in Beautiful Things in detail.
First up, here’s Namita Singh on what the president’s son has to say about his short-lived affair with Hallie Biden following Beau’s death from a brain tumour in 2015.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 10:05
President’s son reveals dad carried out drugs intervention with him during 2020 campaign
Here’s Gino Spocchia on Hunter’s account of his father reaching out to him in the middle of election campaigning.
Speaking to CBS this week and elaborating on an anecdote in Beautiful Things, the author described Biden Sr chasing him down the driveway of the family home in Wilmington, Delaware, following an argument.
“I tried to go to my car, and my girls literally blocked the door to my car, and said: ‘Dad, Dad, please. You can’t. No, no,” he recalled in the interview with Anthony Mason, becoming teary.
“He grabbed me – gave a bear hug, and he said – and just cried, and said – ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. Please’.’”
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 10:30
‘I probably smoked more parmesan cheese than anyone that you know’
Hunter Biden’s memoir is nothing if not candid.
This is from the prologue of Beautiful Things, to give you an idea:
“I’m a 51-year-old father who helped raise three beautiful daughters. I’ve bought crack cocaine on the streets of Washington, DC, and cooked up my own inside a hotel bungalow in Los Angeles. I’ve been so desperate for a drink that I couldn’t make the one-block walk between a liquor store and my apartment without uncapping the bottle to take a swig. In the last five years alone, my two-decades-long marriage has dissolved, guns have been put in my face, and at one point I dropped clean off the grid, living in $59-a-night Super 8 motels off I-95 while scaring my family even more than myself.”
Elsewhere, he also admits to having “no recollection” of meeting DC stripper Lunden Alexis Roberts who claims he is the father of their child.
Again speaking to CBS, Hunter Biden added this detail about the depths of his crack cocaine addiction, describing himself scrabbling on the floor and picking through carpets in search of stray traces of the drug in the grip of feverish desperation.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 10:55
Biden Jr on Trump: ‘A vile man on a vile mission’
One of the most searing moments in Beautiful Things is the lawyer’s attack on President Trump, who, quite frankly, had it coming.
“He pushed debunked conspiracy theories about work I did in Ukraine and China, even as his own children had pocketed millions in China and Russia and his former campaign manager [Paul Manafort] sat in a jail cell for laundering millions more from Ukraine,” Hunter Biden writes.
“None of that matters in an up-is-down Orwellian political climate. Trump believed that if he could destroy me, and by extension my father, he could dispatch any candidate of decency from either party, all while diverting attention from his own corrupt behaviour.”
He continues: “I became a proxy for Donald Trump’s fear that he wouldn’t be re-elected.”
“It was a predictable enough tactic. I expected the president to get far more personal far earlier to exploit the demons and addictions I’ve dealt with for years.”
Nathan Place has more.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 11:15
Hunter Biden pays tribute to stepmother over intervention efforts
Also on his drugs battle, the author credits Dr Jill Biden with helping him get sober – as well as his new partner, South African filmmaker Melissa Cohen.
Danielle Zoellner has this on his telling of the story to CBS.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 11:35
Hunter Biden tells Marc Maron Republicans targeted him as family’s ‘weak link’ to discourage his father from running
The author’s other big interview in the last 24 hours was with the WTF podcast host Marc Maron, himself very open about his own history with narcotics and no stranger to the recovery programme.
Maron proves a highly sympathetic listener, having initially feared Hunter would prove a “sociopathic douchebag” intent on self-sabotage, but said he became fascinated by his story of having to endure being treated as a “whipping boy by the right” while fighting to get clean of drugs.
“How does a human deal with that?” the host wonders.
The pair get on famously, Hunter joking about his Irish roots (“We’re a bunch of Finnegans”) and laughing at his late brother, who was nicknamed “the Sheriff” for being so straight-laced.
He talks about his youthful dream of being a creative writer and describes his life as “between a Raymond Carver and a Stephen King short story, to tell you the truth”.
On addiction, he says, “Getting sober is easy: all you’ve got to do is change everything”, and recounts feeling unable to get out of bed to take a shower without reaching for the pint of Smirnoff vodka he kept hidden beneath the bed.
On Republican conspiracy theories about his time in Kiev, he laughs off the idea that he was in any state to organise the web of corruption he has been accused of and says President’s Trump’s cronies targeted him because they recognised that family was the most important thing in his father’s life and that they saw him as the “weak link” and a way to try to discourage Biden Sr from running for the presidency.
“The essence of their attacks are literally the… there’s zero truth to them, but knowing you’ve got a son who’s just died and your other son who’s near-death in many ways and, if you just keep pounding on him… how does a guy survive that?” he says.
It’s great stuff and very much worth your time.
Joe Sommerlad6 April 2021 11:55