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In new memoir, Hunter Biden chronicles addictions and defends time on Ukraine company board

Hunter Biden waits for the start of his father’s vice-presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky., on Oct. 11, 2012. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Hunter Biden says in a new memoir that if given the chance, he would not again sign onto the board of the Ukrainian gas company at the center of President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, but he is adamant that his service was not unethical.

Instead, the president’s son writes in the book “Beautiful Things,” the money he made from the company, Burisma, helped fuel a lifelong alcohol and drug addiction that derailed his relationships with his family and his business career.

The book, which was obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its scheduled release on April 6, chronicles in detail how the son of President Biden struggled with addiction and his deep descent after the death of his brother, Beau, of cancer in 2015. He recounts his many stints in and out of rehab, his family’s efforts to help get him sober and his countless drug-filled binges across the country.

“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,” he writes.

Much of the book centers on his personal struggles, but Biden also defends his business career, which became a top target for Trump and his allies during the presidential campaign. Biden acknowledges his father’s political career aided him but maintains neither he nor his father did anything illegal, particularly as it relates to Burisma.

“There’s no question my last name was a coveted credential,” he writes of being named to the Burisma board. “That has always been the case — do you think if any of the Trump children ever tried to get a job outside of their father’s business that his name wouldn’t figure into the calculation? My response has always been to work harder so that my accomplishments stand on their own.”

Book review: Hunter Biden’s singular memoir of grief and addiction

Biden’s service on the board of Burisma became a flash point during the campaign after Trump and his allies sought to portray Joe and Hunter Biden’s conduct as unethical and illegal. Trump alleged the elder Biden’s actions as vice president, in which he pushed Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, were designed to help his son because the prosecutor was investigating Burisma.

But Biden’s actions were in concert with U.S. policy and its allies looking to root out corruption. The prosecutor had also closed his investigation into the company before Biden pushed for his ouster.

In 2019, Trump was impeached for the first time after trying to get Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden. He was later acquitted by the Senate.

“I did nothing unethical, and have never been charged with wrongdoing,” Hunter Biden writes. “In our current political environment, I don’t believe it would make any difference if I took that seat or not. I’d be attacked anyway.”

But Biden makes no mention of the ongoing Justice Department’s investigation into his tax affairs. Federal prosecutors are seeking to determine whether he failed to report income from China, people familiar with the probe told The Post in December, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

“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,” Biden said in a statement in December, confirming he was under investigation.

The White House declined to comment on the book, referring to a statement from the president and first lady Jill Biden in early February when the book was announced.

“We admire our son Hunter’s strength and courage to talk openly about his addiction so that others might see themselves in his journey and find hope,” they said in the statement.

Biden writes he had his first drink at the age of 8 — a glass of champagne at his father’s election night party — and traces his battle with addiction and its ties to the personal tragedies of losing his mother and sister in a car accident when he was a child and then later the death of his brother.

As vice president, Biden said Ukraine should increase gas production. Then his son got a job with a Ukrainian gas company.

He details the collapse of his first marriage, the failed relationship he started with his brother’s widow — which he said started as a “shared-travails bond” that fell apart largely because his addiction-fueled absences — and ultimately credits his second wife, Melissa Cohen, with helping him break a cycle of addiction and rehab. He writes about their brief, less-than-a-week courtship and the birth of their child, Beau. The Bidens traveled from the White House last week on Air Force One with the president to his home in Wilmington, Del.

In his brief commentary on his father’s presidential campaign, Biden says he implored his father to not shy away from his struggles with addiction and that he encouraged his father to address them in the first debate with Trump. Joe Biden received plaudits for supporting his son and his struggles.

“I told him that I wasn’t embarrassed about what I’d faced to overcome my addiction,” he writes. “I told him that there were tens of millions of families who would relate to it, whether because of their own struggles or the struggles being faced by someone they loved. Not only was I comfortable with him talking about it, I believed it needed to be said.”

In the epilogue, written as a letter to his deceased brother, Biden describes the days awaiting the final 2020 election results in Joe Biden’s Wilmington home. He writes of the culmination of his father’s decades-long quest to win the presidency, which started when his sons were teenagers and concluded when networks called Pennsylvania for his father.

“Mom and Dad were on a dock out on the pond, so we all ran to the porch and screamed at the top of our lungs, ‘We won! We just won!’” he writes.