Without being able to provide direct evidence, I recall here and there often seeing Republicans lambast Hunter Biden, son of Pres. Joe Biden.

The impression was a sense of scandal and social disgrace due to Hunter Biden's history of cocaine addiction, with some mention of suspicion of political malfeasance.

Without wishing to ask a loaded question, I have often had the impression that maybe through media scapegoating Hunter Biden became a favorite target for Republicans for no reason other than it was a stain on affiliated Democrats' image, in the public eye. This is because I never thought dislike of drug addiction was a particularly "conservative" position. I have often seen a persecutory stance on drugs to be relatively mainstream or bipartisan, and I always thought plenty of conservatives had had their fair share of drug use, let alone addiction. I never thought drugs had a significant liberal vs. conservative divide.

I know there is some rumor about Hunter Biden's "laptop controversy", as there has been with Hilary Clinton, and as there seems to be now with uncovering classified documents from various politicians (Biden, Pence, Trump).

Apart from seemingly shadowy theories that Hunter Biden is up to no good but it isn't clear what -

is there a clearly well-articulated reason there is something, according to Republicans, that is so bad about Hunter Biden, especially as it pertains to politics, or is he just someone it's become popular to pick on, for no reason?

It's not a loaded question; and I am interested in informative answers.

  • 3
    I would add that Hunter Biden is not a major political figure himself. If he were not the son of the current president I would assume he would get massively less public attention.
    – quarague
    Feb 1 at 17:33
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    Not having time to explain better in an answer, most conservatives I've listened to or discussed the matter with are not focused on the drug issues as much as they are with Hunter Biden having high ranking and paying jobs with foreign companies that stood to benefit from decisions Joe Biden would have been in a position to strong influence over. Some of these accusations pre-date the Laptop scandal. The Drug Addiction is only brought up in that it makes it more likely, since most companies would fire board members with such problems.
    – hszmv
    Feb 1 at 17:59
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    As a general rule, most Americans do not bring the President's family's personal lives into their criticism of the President unless the family member publicly initiated something that is political in nature. A child of the President having a problem with addiction would not by itself be something that the president's political opposition would use against him. However, the family member's culpability in illegal behavior at the behest of the President would be fair game... the fact that the family member has an addiction problem is merely an additional concern, not the main concern.
    – hszmv
    Feb 1 at 18:05
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    @hszmv Charles Adams, the son of the second President, received a lot of negative press coverage. There's something titillating about a President's son getting ultra drunk and running naked across Harvard that just screams for some nice juicy yellow journalism. Adult members of a President's family are oftentimes treated as fair game by the press. A President's children however are off limits. Feb 1 at 18:35
  • 2
    Answers would benefit from not being a personal analysis or speculation, but a clearly-articulated argument from one or more prominent Republicans. Feb 1 at 22:07

5 Answers 5


In short, Republican members of Congress have concerns that in 2014 Joe Biden's influence as Vice President in some way was used to get his son a high-paying job at Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and that this connection may have had corrupting effects on the US's policy towards Ukraine.

Further statements by these Republicans over the last few years contain a variety of claims but most extend off of that situation, either claiming that they need more opportunities to find evidence of corruption, that they already have enough evidence to punish the Bidens in some way, or that the evidence they've presented hasn't been taken seriously enough.

In 2020, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Committee on Finance were headed by Republican senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley. In late September 2020 the Republican-led committees released a report titled "Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns". The report can be found here, and the executive summary sums up the situation:

On April 16, 2014, Vice President Biden met with his son’s business partner, Devon Archer, at the White House. Five days later, Vice President Biden visited Ukraine... on April 22, Archer joined the board of Burisma. ... on May 12, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma, and over the course of the next several years, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were paid millions of dollars from a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch for their participation on the board.


Following that revolution, Ukrainian political figures were desperate for U.S. support. Zlochevsky would have made sure relevant Ukrainian officials were well aware of Hunter’s appointment to Burisma’s board as leverage. Hunter Biden’s position on the board created an immediate potential conflict of interest that would prove to be problematic for both U.S. and Ukrainian officials and would affect the implementation of Ukraine policy.


This report not only details examples of extensive and complex financial transactions involving the Bidens, it also describes the quandary other U.S. governmental officials faced as they attempted to guide and support Ukraine’s anticorruption efforts. The Committees will continue to evaluate the information and evidence as it becomes available.

A few weeks after this report was released, a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden was reportedly discovered and some of its content was provided to the media by Rudy Giuliani, former Republican mayor of New York City and one of then-President Trump's lawyers. Although much of the reported content was later confirmed as authentic, it was widely met with skepticism and outright dismissal due to the unlikely discovery, coincidental and beneficial timing, and unknown chain of custody.

Over the last few years, many Republicans have commented on the original Burisma situation and the later laptop controversy, generally either calling for more investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden or saying that enough is already know for one or both to be punished:

Q Should the FBI be investigating Hunter Biden?

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, the FBI should be investigating. I don’t know if they are or not, but they should be investigating him. And you’ll have to call Wray and ask him. But that is — and why did they have those — and did they have it? Did they have that laptop for a long time and not do anything with it?

...allowing his son Hunter Biden to influence the domestic policy of a foreign nation and accept benefits from foreign nationals in exchange for favors.

  • On Dec, 11, 2022, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-22) said on Fox News that people in the US intelligence service should be questioned over the handling of the Hunter Biden investigation:

Those 51 intel agents that signed a letter that said the Hunter Biden information was all wrong — was Russia collusion ... We're going to bring them before a committee, I'm going to have them have a hearing, bring them and subpoena them before a committee.

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    This answer is good, except that "met with skepticism" is a gross understatement of the situation surrounding the laptop. At least allegedly (and there is compelling evidence to believe truthfully, from knowledgeable people such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook), the FBI got involved and pressured social media sites to take down reporting on the story.
    – Ertai87
    Feb 1 at 22:38
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    Here is the Twitter Files thread discussing the FBI's involvement with Twitter's actions in the case: twitter.com/ShellenbergerMD/status/1604871630613753856?lang=en .
    – Ertai87
    Feb 1 at 22:42
  • @Ertai87 :There's a lot that can be said about this whole situation, and if the question was about the controversies themselves I would've gone into those sorts of details. But the actual question here was just about what Republicans were saying about Hunter Biden, so that's all I focused on.
    – Giter
    Feb 1 at 22:45
  • Then I would remove the last part of the last sentence of that paragraph, and rewrite to: "...then-President Trump's lawyers. The reported content was later confirmed as authentic." and leave it at that (I would not use the word "much", which implies that some of it was either not confirmed as authentic, or confirmed as inauthentic, neither of which is, to my knowledge, true; if you have a source for that then it would be noteworthy to include in the answer).
    – Ertai87
    Feb 1 at 22:48
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    Also, the contents of said laptop, specifically the email regarding the Chinese deal (CEFC) and "the big guy" is another major Republican criticism of Hunter Biden, which I detailed in my answer and is certainly relevant to the discussion.
    – Ertai87
    Feb 1 at 22:49

The Hunter Biden story has stories within said story that are complex. I should note that Hunter Biden is not a party to the classified document scandal surrounding his father. Here's a breakdown of issues pertaining to Hunter directly


Joe Biden was elected Vice President and served under Barack Obama from 2009-2017. In 2014, Hunter Biden was hired by Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, ostensibly as a lawyer, but also as a board member. They reportedly paid him upwards of $83,000/mo.

In 2016, Joe Biden was instrumental in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin. (This is a direct Joe Biden quote, trimmed for clarity only)

One of those things is missing now. And that is I’m desperately concerned about the backsliding on the part of Kiev in terms of corruption. (snip) And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.

I said [we're] not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. (snip) I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

At that time, Shokin had an open investigation into Burisma. It's not clear if the investigation was actively being pursued at the time of Shokin's firing. There were also ethical questions about Shokin's actions.

Activists say the case had been sabotaged by Shokin himself. As an example, they say two months before Hunter Biden joined Burisma's board, British authorities had requested information from Shokin's office as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering by Zlochevskiy. Shokin ignored them.

Still, Joe Biden applied political and monetary pressure for the firing of a prosecutor investigating a company where his son is on the board. It's still ethically questionable the way it was done. The normal way to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest is to recuse oneself and let others make the decision. They way Joe tells it, he got the job done himself.

The Laptop Story

The Hunter Biden laptop story is really a story unto itself. The basics of the original story are

  • A laptop was taken to a Delaware repair shop (it's not clear who brought it in) in August of 2019 and never paid for or retrieved. As with such places, if you do that, you are essentially forfeiting the device.

  • The repair shop owner looked at the data on the laptop and found all sorts of data from Hunter Biden, including emails, photos and videos (some of which depict Hunter nude)

  • On October 14, 2020, the New York Post posted a story that contained emails purportedly from Hunter Biden that contained things that may have pertained to then Vice President and now Presidential candidate Joe Biden

    Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.

  • Hunter denied the laptop was his in 2021 (7:12 remarks) but has later had to admit the laptop and data were his when he wrote letters complaining that his privacy has been breached

What happened to The Laptop Story

At this point, the story was just that: a news story that was meant to be something of an "October surprise" to the Biden election. What happened next has become its own fiasco. While Hunter was not a party to this, it was a "meta" issue related to the story about his laptop.

Most media outlets that cast doubt on the story have had to admit that The Laptop Story is indeed about a real laptop previously owned by Hunter. There is a separate issue about the social media treatment that I won't go into (it's recently blown up again with Elon Musk revealing Twitter internal emails) beyond saying that Twitter's then-CEO regretted blocking the story.

The Laptop Story, Part II

Once the scandal about the story being suppressed died down, we learned that Hunter Biden is under Federal investigation

The probe, which is focused on possible tax law violations, has also examined Hunter Biden’s business dealings with foreign interests — a topic that has animated Biden detractors — and its existence first came to light amid a controversy about the leak of Hunter Biden’s laptop files.

We've also seen some of the emails imply Joe Biden might have been part of the Ukrainian dealings of Hunter (Joe Biden denies any involvement). The strangest would be an email that had the now-infamous phrase "and 10% for the big guy", which has been implied to be Joe

Cryptically the remaining 20 percent would be divided, with 10 percent to 'Jim' - likely Hunter's uncle, Jim Biden, and '10 held by H for the big guy'.

If the 'big guy' is indeed Joe Biden, it would contradict his insistence that he was not involved in his son's business dealings. The president has long rubbished any suggestion of financial impropriety.

There's also this email about Chinese businesses paying Hunter for "introductions"

Biden wrote that Ye had sweetened the terms of an earlier, three-year consulting contract with CEFC that was to pay him $10 million annually “for introductions alone.”

And one of Hunter's clients (who paid him a $1M retaining fee) has been convicted of bribery

In December 2018, a Manhattan federal jury convicted Ho in two schemes to pay $3 million in bribes to high-ranking government officials in Africa for oil rights in Chad and lucrative business deals in Uganda.

Hunter also served on the board of a Chinese company

In 2013, Hunter flew aboard Air Force Two with his father, who was then vice-president, on an official visit to Beijing, where the younger Biden met investment banker Jonathan Li.

Hunter told the New Yorker he had just met Mr Li for "a cup of coffee", but 12 days after the trip a private equity fund, BHR Partners, was approved by the Chinese authorities. Mr Li was chief executive and Hunter was a board member. He would hold a 10% stake.

Hunter Biden's Art

Hunter Biden is now an artist. The problem is that Hunter is selling that art for large sums of money, which is unusual for a relatively new artist. There are some questions about how that art is being sold

Hunter Biden’s artwork is set to be displayed and sold in September at a private and confidential opening in Los Angeles, followed by an invite-only event in New York, a Georges Bergés Gallery spokesperson said. Pieces are priced between $75,000 and $500,000, according to the spokesperson.

Two sources familiar with the sales arrangement told CNN that the purchaser of the artwork will be kept anonymous and neither Hunter Biden nor the public will have knowledge of who bid on or purchased the work. If there is any unusual behavior – such as the offer price being too high or the collector doesn’t appear interested in the work – the gallery is expected to turn down the offer, the sources said.

However, there’s no clear enforcement mechanism for the standards agreed upon by the gallery and the prospective purchasers of Hunter Biden originals.

By itself, this story isn't very problematic. But with other questions about Hunter's potentially peddling influence, it certainly doesn't look good either.

  • Finally, you post that news orgs were critical of the story after release, but that's not the correct timeline. Fox News passed because they didn't trust it, the original author refused to publish it under their own name, and no reporter put their name on it when it was published. So news orgs were critical of it even before it was published.
    – bharring
    Feb 2 at 17:51

If you compare the story to norms in other democracies, it's pretty much unheard of (please inform me otherwise!), It's rare to have a crack or heroin issue in the family of a government leader. Prostitution stories often occur and take a small place in the news. Nepotism is the big one, and often a source of popular discontent. Nepotism allegations often make headlines and can bring down politicians. Legal immunity also raises a lot of interest in the news because it is a form of corruption.

What is unusual with Hunter Biden is the combination of crack use, prostitution, allegations of nepotism and legal immunity.

That is totally unheard of in most developed democracies because it would not be allowed to get to that level, as a scandal liability for the minister/senator. The location of the job is also irregular, it's an enfant terrible accessing an oil executive job in one of the world's most politically charged and sensitive nations.

If it were to happen elsewhere in the world, it's pretty sure that it would be strongly associated with a corruption probe or a demand for one by all opposing political factions, especially if you factor a staunchly family-values marketing party.


There are a series of problems with Hunter Biden.

While Joe Biden was Vice President under Obama, Hunter Biden was a senior official at a Ukranian energy company called Burisma. Contrary to now-popular belief (due to the war in Ukraine which has significantly shifted media reporting and public perception on Ukraine), Ukraine is quite a corrupt country, with the same or similar levels of oligarchy, bribes, and corruption as Russia. The US government published a report detailing the levels to which Hunter Biden was involved with a Ukranian oligarch, the owner of Burisma, named Zlochevsky. While it is not conclusively proven that Zlochevshy actually used Hunter Biden to lobby the American government for favors (according to the linked report), there was an instance in which Zlochevsky was to be, among other Ukranian oligarchs, investigated by the Ukranian government, backed by the US government. In this instance, upon questioning, Biden (who was Vice President at the time, and therefore his words hold authority) would not name Zlochevsky as a corrupt oligarch, despite the US ambassador to Ukraine specifically naming him as such. Furthermore, it is simply sketchy af (in that it is a conflict of interest) for the family of a high-ranking US official (in this case the Vice-President) to be a senior member of a major company in another country, especially a corrupt country such as Ukraine.

Then, there was the laptop issue. The laptop comes down to basically 3 issues:

  1. The primary issue was the deal with CEFC (sourced MSNBC which is hardly a right-wing rag), a Chinese energy company. One does not have to look far to notice the recent antagonism between China and the USA, so I'll leave that background as an exercise to the reader. Needless to say, US government officials should not be invested in Chinese corporations, of course, as a conflict of interest matter. Especially in the case of China, whose government, at the very least nominally (and according to the MSNBC article, which cites a Washington Post article as its source, likely very directly) owns every company which operates within its borders, and therefore every business dealing with a Chinese company is (in some cases more than others, and in this case, according to the article, extremely) the same as dealing directly with the Chinese government. The details of the deal and specifically what Hunter Biden gained and what Hunter did, are detailed in the article, and that adds additional problems; Hunter Biden didn't simply work of the company, he was paid specifically to act as a liaison for a Chinese official to get access to Joe Biden. Furthermore, this article, which contains screenshots of the particular email in question (is an NY Post article which is a right-leaning publication, so I'm using its information only for the screenshot) shows that 10% of the equity of the CEFC deal was to be held for "the big guy". Who "the big guy" is in this particular situation is unclear, but apparently the author of that email, James Gillar, had a history of referring to Joe Biden as "the big guy" and the suspicion being that Joe himself stood to benefit financially from this deal. Clearly, it is tantamount to corruption for the sitting President of the USA to benefit financially from a political access deal with an adversarial government.

  2. The above-quoted Hunter Biden issues with drug abuse, sexual deviancy, and so on. Those are referenced in the question so I won't add quotes or explanation, as I'm assuming you know about that. In addition to the character assessment of somebody close to Joe (an anti-drug voter might question the character of Joe Biden if they knew that his son was a heavy drug user) and the possible security risks this would pose (what would Joe discuss with Hunter in private, that Hunter might irresponsibly share with people who he should not be sharing?), this also shows that Joe has transitive connections with unsavoury people (in the drug trade and sex trade). "How would Joe Biden act on issues such as drug offences, knowing that his son is a serious drug user?", is a question a person might reasonably ask.

  3. That the laptop story was squashed prior to the election. From Wikipedia, a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden was discovered, and was reported on by the New York Post in October 2020 in advance of the US Presidential election in November 2020. Wikipedia details the fallout on social media thereof (same page as above, just a more direct link). Despite the news being true, and social media platforms having a responsibility to disseminate true news and flag misinformation, Twitter deranked the Post's story, and eventually started banning users who shared or retweeted it, including suspending the account of the President-at-the-time (Donald Trump). Facebook took similar actions, allegedly under the direct influence of the FBI (it is not stated directly as such in the podcast, but when the topic comes up, Zuckerberg paints broad strokes and strongly implied this is what occurred). While not a direct problem with Hunter himself (and there is no connection known of that Joe personally had any hand in the squashing of the story), this is a problem with the way the story was covered.

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    – Philipp
    Feb 8 at 9:07

Hunter Biden uniquely worked out as a good target because of both the Ukraine connection and being a child of a presidential contender. He was a distraction from Trump's problems with his children and with Ukraine.

President Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and her-husband and his-son-in-law Jared Kushner were both active in his administration. There were stories that advisors knew they weren't going to convince Trump of anything unless they got one of his kids on their side. Neither had political experience. Ivanka had some trademarks for her fashion company suspiciously approved in China. So the embarrassing story, for years was "Trump working with his unqualified corrupt children". When Biden became the Democratic front-runner his son Hunter had been on various international boards -- partly valued for being the son of a vice-president and maybe having some pull -- and had had substance abuse problems, so he became an obvious target for "oh yeah, your guy works with his corrupt kid, too". Radio host Thom Hartmann often referred to "The Trump Crime Family". Soon after discovering Hunter, you'd hear that turned into "The Biden Crime Family" by right-wing hosts.

Next was Trump's first impeachment. If you recall, it was over Ukraine. Trump had called president Zelenskyy saying he would only release aid if Ukraine helped him defeat Biden. That's bad. Real bad. Luckily, it turned out Hunter Biden was involved with a for-real corrupt Ukraine energy company at the same time as then VP Biden was working with Ukraine to stop corruption. So that got folded into the Hunter thing, turning it into "no, Trump wasn't doing corrupt things in Ukraine -- Biden was, and with his children".

So nobody had a problem with Hunter Biden, but he was an excellent distraction from Trump's issues, then morphed into a general-purpose bad guy (like how Hillary Clinton eventually became head of a pizza parlor child smuggling ring). Today, you've got congresspeople elected who ran on that red-meat stuff. Their voters heard about Joe Biden being evil because of something with Hunter on the radio, and the candidate promised to get to the bottom of it if elected.

  • 4
    You're going to get downvotes, not necessarily because your answer is bad, but because the "own the libs" crowd appears to be out in force today. Feb 1 at 22:33
  • 5
    -1 Honestly this does very little to present the Republican PoV re. Hunter, just criticizes it. Not that the Rep PoV re HB has much substance for it, but that's what the Q was about. Not a huge whatabout Ivanka, even if the Trump children were much more of a nepotism issue in practice than HB. Feb 2 at 0:35
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica In Jimmy Kimmel's "Mike Lindell in a claw machine" interview, Kimmel says "I think you believe what you're saying, but I don't think Trump does". The point being there are at least two kinds of Republicans. Ertia87 gives the conspiracy theory version. I felt the OP is asking in good faith and am giving the "Republican strategist" view. Feb 2 at 1:38
  • according to Republicans, quoted from the Q, is not asking your interpretation of Rep strategists. it is asking for Rep arguments. Feb 2 at 2:47
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Thanks, you're trying to be helpful. But I read the Q twice before posting and again now, and to me it seems to be worded broadly. SE:Politics gets Q's asking for the narrow "what are the stated reasons for this", but not this one. I mean, the Q even asks about media scapegoating. Feb 2 at 15:12

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