Lawyers for his son Hunter have reached a deal with federal prosecutors on the tax and gun charges, and the president said the long legal ordeal is finally coming to an end.
But when the deal collapsed in late July, Biden, whose upbeat public image often belied a more upbeat demeanor, was taken aback.
He fell into grief and despair, according to several people close to him who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve their ties to the Biden family. Since then, his tone in conversations about Hunter has been tinged with an unprecedented resignation, confidants said.
Now, as the Justice Department plans to indict Hunter Biden for gun possession in the coming weeks, White House advisers are bracing for more Republican attacks and the prospect of a criminal attempt in the midst of the 2024 presidential campaign.
Republicans have called Hunter’s problems a mix of nepotism and corruption, which the Biden administration has denied. But there’s no doubt that Hunter’s case is a political and emotional burden for his father and those who want to see him re-elected.
The saga shows the painful dynamics of the first family, marked by intense ambition and deep loss, along with anger and guilt. It is a story of two different, though very much loved, children, and of a father holding on to the one who is still with him.
People who know the two men say their bond is singular in its intensity. But even allies of President Biden, who prides himself on his political and humanitarian instincts, say he is sometimes too deferential to his youngest son, who appears reluctant to say no, despite Hunter’s problems and his long series of bad decisions.
And it created an unexpected political risk for the president.