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The Biden Family’s Public Reckoning With Addiction

U.S.The Biden Family’s Public Reckoning With Addiction

This week, in a courtroom in Delaware, federal prosecutors presented a sordid story of drug use and a fateful gun purchase by President Biden’s son.

The trial of Hunter Biden has laid bare some of the first family’s deepest pain, as well as the strength of the ties at its core. On Friday, Hunter’s daughter Naomi testified in his defense as the first lady, Jill Biden, who had flown back from France to be there, looked on.

The proceedings have also spurred a subtle shift in how Mr. Biden and his wife publicly approach the addiction that has shaped Hunter’s life, and as a result, their own. It’s not something either of them brings up very often — but that’s changed as it has become a key element of their son’s criminal defense.

I spoke with Katie Rogers, a White House correspondent for The New York Times who has written extensively about the Biden family and how the president is approaching this difficult moment. Our conversation was edited for length and clarify.

Hunter Biden is on trial, accused of failing to disclose his drug use on a federal application to buy a gun. It’s a remarkable moment, and a strange one, too. How did we get here?

An unmooring event was the death of Hunter’s older brother, Beau Biden, of brain cancer in 2015. Hunter, who had been struggling with alcoholism and addiction issues for a while, began using crack cocaine and started dating Beau’s widow, Hallie. In October 2018, Hunter purchased a gun, a Colt Cobra, and filled out a federal form, checking a box that affirmed that he was not addicted to or using drugs. Drug use disqualifies people from gun ownership when they buy from a licensed dealer.

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