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Biden says he has confidence in his son Hunter in first comments on possible federal charges

President Biden holds his grandson Beau Biden alongside his son Hunter Biden during the Fourth of July celebration at the White House last summer. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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President Biden, in his first public comments about possible federal tax and gun charges against his son, said he had “great confidence” in Hunter Biden and he was “on a straight and narrow” after his struggles with substance abuse.

Biden made the comments during an interview on CNN that aired Tuesday night. He was reacting to reporting in The Washington Post this month that said federal agents believe they have sufficient evidence to charge the president’s son with tax crimes and making a false statement about substance abuse when he applied to purchase a gun.

On Oct. 6, federal agents investigating Hunter Biden said they had gathered sufficient evidence to charge him with crimes related to taxes and a gun purchase. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

“I have great confidence in my son. I love him. He’s on a straight and narrow, and he has been for a couple years now,” Biden said in the interview with Jake Tapper.

The investigation, which began in 2018, was a talking point for former president Donald Trump and his Republican allies during the 2020 presidential election.

Initially, the investigation centered on the younger Biden’s finances related to overseas business ties and consulting work. Over time the investigation grew and included looking at whether he reported all of his income, and whether he lied on a gun purchase paperwork in 2018 about substance use.

“I’m proud of my son,” the president said. “He got hooked on, like many families have had happened, hooked on drugs. He’s overcome that.” The president said his son has put his troubles behind him.

“He’s established a new life,” Biden said, before expressing confidence that Hunter Biden has been truthful and forthcoming about his behavior. “I’m confident that he is, what he says and does are consistent with what happens.”

On whether his son lied about using drugs when he applied to purchase a gun, the president said Hunter was unaware of any wrongdoing. “He came along and said, ‘By the way this thing about a gun, I didn’t know anything about it,’ ” the president said. He added: “You get asked the question are you on drugs or use drugs. He said no. And he wrote about saying no in his book,” referring to his son’s memoir, published last year.

The comments came shortly after the Daily Mail published what it says was a voice message the president sent his son in late 2018, expressing his love for him and saying, “You gotta get some help.” The message was later aired on the Fox News show hosted by Sean Hannity, sparking a backlash.

In March, The Post reported that two computer security experts had reviewed thousands of emails purportedly from Hunter Biden’s computer and found they were authentic communications, based on cryptographic signatures from Google and other technology companies. It could not be determined whether the laptop and its contents were useful in the Justice Department investigation.

Questions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings have long dogged his father’s political life. Trump and his allies have focused on the younger Biden’s lucrative consulting work for a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president. In a July 2019 phone call, Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens — part of a pressure campaign that led to the first of Trump’s two impeachments.

In December 2020, federal agents sought to interview Hunter Biden, leading him to publicly acknowledge that he was under investigation. The younger Biden denied any wrongdoing, writing in a statement at the time: “I take this matter very seriously 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 advisers.”

Asked about the case, Chris Clark, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, accused investigators of leaking information. “It is a federal felony for a federal agent to leak information about a Grand Jury investigation such as this one,” Clark said in a written statement to The Post earlier this month.

“Any agent you cite as a source in your article apparently has committed such a felony. We expect the Department of Justice will diligently investigate and prosecute such bad actors,” Clark said. “As is proper and legally required, we believe the prosecutors in this case are diligently and thoroughly weighing not just evidence provided by agents, but also all the other witnesses in this case, including witnesses for the defense. That is the job of the prosecutors. They should not be pressured, rushed, or criticized for doing their job.”

Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein contributed to this report.