The decade's most triggering comedy
A columnist for USA Today compared Republican investigations into alleged misconduct by Hunter Biden to stigmatizing and abusing an addict.
The column opens with an emotional description of a teary intervention held by the Biden family to help their son Hunter, who at the time was addicted to crack cocaine – Hunter reportedly spent thousands of dollars on the drug in a matter of weeks and was discharged from the Navy after testing positive for cocaine in 2014.
“My son – like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home – had a drug problem,” then-candidate Biden said during the 2020 campaign. “He’s overtaken it, he’s fixed it, he’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.”
“For most Americans addiction is a private family affair,” USA Today columnist Michael Collins opined. “Hunter Biden’s struggles have played out in public and in the political sphere inhabited by his father. Further complicating matters: Republicans have repeatedly sought to use the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s private affairs, and at times even his drug addiction, as part of their campaign to portray the Biden family as corrupt.”
The column was published in the wake of revelations that a highly credible source had testified to the FBI that Hunter and Joe Biden were involved in an alleged international bribery scheme where they were each funneled millions of dollars through at least 20 shell companies. Of particular note was the allegation that $5 million was transferred to the Bidens from Ukrainian energy company Burisma, around the same time that then-Vice President Biden used his influence to get a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma fired.
“‘You’re not getting the billion dollars,’” Biden said, recounting a threat he made to withhold U.S. aid if the Ukrainian government did not comply with his demand. “‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money.’… Well, son of a b****, he got fired.”
In a speech on the Senate floor today, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that the continued investigation into the Biden family had uncovered evidence, recorded on a 1023 form provided by a confidential human source, that foreign nationals had compromising material on both Joe and Hunter Biden related to their alleged overseas dealings.
“The 1023 produced to that House committee redacted reference that the foreign national who allegedly bribed Joe and Hunter Biden allegedly has audio recordings of his conversation with them. Seventeen such recordings,” Grassley said.
The column characterized the investigations as political mudslinging, and, in the words of one recovering addict, “probably the most despicable thing I’ve seen in my life.”
“If some Republican’s child had these issues and a Democrat did the same thing, I’d say the same thing,” said Brandon Swinehart, a former addict who lived on the streets of San Francisco for two years. “This has nothing to do with competency or being president. This is someone’s family. It’s a family affair. Please stay out of it.”
The column focused on how Hunter Biden’s drug addiction has often been brought up by Republicans in conjunction with and as supporting evidence for allegations of corruption – and insinuated that such tactics were politically motivated smears. The column even included praise for Hunter Biden’s openness about his experience, noting that his public addiction and recovery could lessen the stigma surrounding a common social ill.
“There’s really no one who is immune to this,” said Alexis Pleus, whose son Jeff Dugon died of a heroin overdose. “It doesn’t matter – race, class, gender, what your income is, in the public eye, out of the public eye. Anyone can be affected. No one should be judged for this. Absolutely no one.”
Biden himself has reiterated such arguments.
“I’ll bet you there’s not a family you know that didn’t have somebody in the family who had a drug problem, or an alcohol problem,” the president said in an interview with CBS in early 2021.