President Joe Biden on Tuesday for the first time addressed his son’s exposure to possible criminal charges for allegedly lying on a gun-purchase application, but he said he was proud of Hunter Biden for confronting his struggles with drug addiction in an interview with Jake Tapper aired on “CNN Tonight.”
Hunter Biden purchased a gun during a time in which he has now acknowledged he was struggling with drug addiction – an issue now under federal criminal investigation because federal law requires purchasers to attest that they aren’t users of or addicted to illegal drugs, CNN has reported. Federal prosecutors are weighing possible charges related tax violations and for making a false statement related to the gun purchase, CNN reported.
President Biden told Tapper on Tuesday that he was “proud” of Hunter Biden for being straightforward about his battle with drug addiction.
“This is a kid who got – not a kid, he’s a grown man – he got hooked on, like many families have had happen, hooked on drugs. He’s overcome that. He’s established a new life,” Biden said.
“I’m confident that he is – what he says and does are consistent with what happens,” the President said. “And for example, he wrote a book about his problems and was straightforward about it. I’m proud of him.”
The case against Hunter Biden narrowed earlier this year and was a matter of discussion in early summer between FBI and IRS investigators, prosecutors in Delaware and the Justice Department, CNN previously reported. The discussions included assessing the strength of the case and questioning whether more work was needed before deciding on charges. Prosecutors and investigators have argued that they have enough evidence to bring charges, but a decision on charges rests with Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss and is expected after the midterm elections.
An attorney for Hunter Biden didn’t immediately comment.
In the CNN interview on Tuesday, the President defended his son.
“This thing about a gun – I didn’t know anything about it. But turns out that when he made application to purchase a gun, what happened was he – I guess you get asked – I don’t guess, you get asked a question, are you on drugs, or do use drugs?’ He said no. And he wrote about saying no in his book,” Biden said.
“So, I have great confidence in my son,” he went on. “I love him and he’s on the straight and narrow, and he has been for a couple years now. And I’m just so proud of him.”
The White House has consistently declined to comment on the Hunter Biden investigation, saying it’s a matter for the Justice Department. But Republicans and conservative media have focused on the issue, which could become the subject of congressional inquiries should Republicans take control of Congress after this year’s midterm elections.
Biden told Tapper his focus right now is on November’s congressional contests. But he said once those elections conclude he’d enter the decision-making process on his own political future.
“I’m not going to make this about my decision. I’m going to make this about this off-year election. After that’s done in November, then I’m going to be in the process of deciding,” Biden said.
Biden, who turns 80 on November 20, has consistently batted away questions about his age, suggesting his performance as president speaks for itself.
He has said he intends to run for reelection. But he notes he respects fate, and has suggested he’ll discuss the matter with his family and come to a decision early next year.
In polls, majorities of Democrats say they do not want Biden to run for reelection in 2024. A CNN poll from July found 75% of Democratic and Democratic-leading voters wanted the party to nominate someone else, a sharp increase from earlier in the year. Of those, 17% said they wanted another nominee because of Biden’s age.
“They’re concerned about whether or not I can anything done. Look what I’ve gotten done. Name me a president in recent history that’s gotten as much done as I have in the first two years. Not a joke. You may not like what I got done, but the vast majority of the American people do like what I got done,” he said.
“It’s a matter of, can you do the job? And I believe I can do the job. I’ve been able to do the job,” he went on.
When Tapper asked whether one of his calculations in deciding whether to run for reelection was whether “you think you’re the only one who can beat Donald Trump,” Biden offered a succinct response: “I believe I can beat Donald Trump again,” he said.