Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, reflected on his public struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, saying his life “is not a tabloid”.
“I don’t belong to an administration, I belong to a family,” he told the BBC.
He took on the responsibility of “creating a story … that anyone aware of would know would be a tabloid sensation.”
He also spoke about the control he and his father had to face in his work with Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Mr. Biden was a director of Burisma’s board of directors while Joe Biden was the US vice president and the Obama administration’s right-hand man on US-Ukraine relations.
“ A target of criticism ”
These business connections made him a frequent target of Republican criticism during the 2020 election campaign and were central to the first impeachment of former US President Donald Trump.
The impeachment inquiry focused on a conversation Mr. Trump had with the Ukrainian president in which he appeared to pressure him to open an investigation into the Bidens. The call came shortly after Mr. Trump blocked the release of military aid to Ukraine.
While defending his qualifications for the position at Burisma, Mr Biden said that, in retrospect, he “missed … the perception I would create”.
“I know it’s hard to believe in 20/20 hindsight how I could have missed this,” the 51-year-old told the BBC in an interview.
Although no criminal activity by the Bidens has been proven, a senior US State Department official raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest as early as 2015.
An investigation last year by Republican US lawmakers found Hunter Biden’s work for the Ukrainian cabinet to be “problematic”, but concluded that there was no evidence that US foreign policy was influenced by it. The report also claimed that those close to Biden “took advantage of Joe Biden’s vice-presidency.”
The report was criticized by Republican Senator from Utah Mitt Romney, one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal critics in Congress, who described it as a “political exercise.”
Mr Biden admitted that his father’s name had “opened doors that would not be open to other people.” But he said it had been “both a privilege and a burden.”
Speaking to the BBC ahead of the release of his new memoir, Beautiful Things, Mr Biden said he wanted to write about “a family’s love and how it saved me”.
“And, you know, we’re going through two pandemics right now … there’s the coronavirus pandemic, and there’s also an addiction pandemic,” he said.
‘Dark and gloomy place’
Mr Biden’s mother and sister died in a car crash in 1972 in which he and his brother survived. In the interview, he spoke about the links between the trauma he suffered and his addiction to drugs and alcohol.
“There’s something at the core of every addict that’s missing, that they feel they need to fill … Nothing can fill it. And so you go numb,” he says.
After his brother Beau died of cancer in 2015, he said he “came down to a really dark and gloomy place.”
“My brother had just died, I had separated with my wife, I was alone in an apartment and I drank myself to death. It was horrible. I mean, heartbreak does fun things. And combine that with the addiction and it’s a really hard thing to overcome, ”he said.
He added that while his struggle with drug addiction made him a target for tabloid stories and political attacks, it was also something people across the country could relate to.
“I think what people see in the Biden family is their family. I think they see all the tragedy in the loss, but they see all the love and sincerity. And I think they see all the tragedy in the loss. see that we are not much different from the others. other family out there, ”he said.
‘A story of hope’
In anticipation of Mr Trump raising his addiction in the first election debate, Mr Biden said he and his father intuitively knew what to say.
“I said ‘Daddy, you know, this is our story. And it’s a love story. It’s a hope story. It’s a story that so many people are going through right now. Talk about it. just them and know that your honesty and honesty about where we are is what I think will resonate with the American people.
“It wasn’t a political calculation, it was from the heart.”
Looking to his future, Mr Biden said the addiction “never goes away” but that many addicts have “continued to do amazingly brilliant, great and amazing things.”
“It is high time we started to see addiction as a mental health issue, rather than an ethical or moral issue,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of his father running for re-election at the age of 82, he said: “My father is younger than me in his physical and mental abilities … I don’t know anyone who has more energy.”