Biden’s son: ‘Addict who can’t be trusted’
A raw series of text messages show Joe Biden offering fatherly comfort as his son, Hunter, lamented from a rehab facility about being a "f-ked up addict who can't be trusted" and who had damaged his dad's political career.
According to the New York Post, the intimate family exchange took place on February 24, 2019, two months before Joe Biden launched his campaign for the White House.
"Good morning my beautiful son. I miss you and love you. Dad," the elder Biden wrote at 6:57 a.m.
Hunter, 50, responded with a lengthy diatribe about his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and his father's political advisers, and he also complained bitterly about a conversation with his sister-in-law-turned-lover, Hallie Biden.
"For f-ks sake hallie for the first time [in] 17 days talks to me to say im an embarrassment. To MY family," Hunter wrote.
He then admitted, "Well dad, the truth is as you and hallie point out - I am a f-ked up addict that cant be…Trusted relied upon nor defended."
"If you don't run [I'll] never have a chance at redemption," he added.
About three hours later, Joe sent Hunter an encouraging burst of short texts.
"I'll run but I need you. H[allie] is wrong. Only focus is recovery. Nothing else," he wrote.
Joe also praised Hunter for raising his three daughters, Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy.
"Your girls are so smart truly amazing. Very focused. Naomi very upset with K," he wrote.
"When you can and feel like it call. Positive my text etc a target. Love."
The Bidens' formerly private moments are among the trove of data extracted from a MacBook Pro laptop that the owner of a Delaware repair shop has said was dropped off in April 2019 but never retrieved.
JOE BIDEN SLAMS SMEAR CAMPAIGNS
It comes as Joe Biden slammed another New York Post article purporting to expose corrupt dealings by him and his son in Ukraine.
Mr Biden was asked about the explosive report that alleges emails show his son made millions trading on his father's influence after his campaign events in Michigan, The New York Post reports.
When CBS News reporter Bo Erickson asked him about it, Mr Biden fired back.
Mr Erickson asked: "Mr Biden, what is your response to the New York Post story about your son, sir?"
"I know you'd ask it," Mr Biden said.
"I have no response, it's another smear campaign, right up your alley, those are the questions you always ask."
The Biden 2020 campaign had responded to the story earlier in the week, saying the former vice president "carried out official US policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing," and that "Trump administration officials have attested to these facts under oath."
The New York Post obtained a 2015 email indicating that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, thanked Hunter Biden for "giving an opportunity" to meet his father, who was then serving as vice president under Barack Obama.
The story was later blocked on Facebook and Twitter, sparking an international row.
"This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation," Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said.
Twitter said it was limiting the article's dissemination due to questions about "the origins of the materials" included in the article.
MELANIA LASHES 'SALACIOUS' CLAIMS
First Lady Melania Trump has come out swinging against the tell-all book by her former friend, saying that she had time as she recovered from COVID to "reflect on many things personal to me".
Event planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who organized Donald Trump's inauguration, secretly recorded her phone conversations with Melania to write Melanie and Me.
She has been releasing clips of the phone calls since it was published last month.
In a statement released by the White House, the First Lady described Wolkoff as an "opportunist" who wrote "idle gossip" and "hardly knew me".
"There are plenty of opportunists out there who only care about themselves, and unfortunately seek to self-aggrandise by knowingly taking advantage of my goodwill," she said.
The "salacious claims" were distracting from the children's charity work Melania wanted to focus on, she said.
"We all know that more often than not, information that could be helpful to children is lost in the noise made by self-serving adults," she said.
"I have most recently found this to be the case as major news outlets eagerly covered salacious claims made by a former contractor who advised my office.
"A person who said she "made me" even though she hardly knew me, and someone who clung to me after my husband won the Presidency.
"This is a woman who secretly recorded our phone calls, releasing portions from me that were out of context, then wrote a book of idle gossip trying to distort my character."
Meanwhile, Trump has continued his hyper speed campaign schedule, with three rallies on Friday, local time.
At his first appearance in front of seniors in Florida, Mr Trump continued his attacks on Mr Biden's son Hunter, who has been the subject of several damning reports that he traded his father's position for cash while he was Barack Obama's vice president.
"Hunter made no money until his father became vice president and now he's like a vacuum cleaner," Mr Trump said.
"It's a shame. I'll tell you what, it's an organized crime family, as far as I'm concerned."
Mr Biden, meanwhile, said Mr Trump was living in a "dreamworld" about the coronavirus as he attended two events.
The virus has recently been stalking Team Biden, with vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris quarantining after coming into contact with two people who had the disease.
Mr Biden, 77, has been far more cautious in his approach to the coronavirus, with strict social distancing, "drive-in" rallies and keeping quiet details of his appearances in order to deter supporters from gathering.
Despite this, Mr Biden was feared to have been exposed to a pilot flying his campaign plane. He has since tested negative several times and said he didn't plan to suspend his own campaign.
BIDEN ENJOYS SHOCK WIN OVER TRUMP
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has taken an important victory from his opponent Donald Trump, beating his ratings for their duelling town hall appearances.
Variety reported that an average of 13.9 million viewers watched Mr Biden taking questions on ABC, compared to 10.4 million watching Mr Trump on NBC, according to Neilsen.
Interest in Mr Trump lagged so badly that even when simulcast viewership on cable networks MSNBC and CNBC came in - at 1.74 million and 671,000 respectively - Mr Biden still came out ahead.
Mr Biden spoke for 90 minutes compared to Mr Trump's hour-long event on Thursday night, local time, and was still ahead with 12.3 million viewers tuning into his final half-hour.
The head-to-head telecasts on rival networks were in lieu of the second scheduled presidential debate, which was up-ended by Mr Trump's coronavirus diagnosis.
Mr Trump spent an hour being pushed on his coronavirus response, his finances and his views on race, raising his voice several times as interviewer Savannah Guthrie interrupted him.
In contrast, Democrat Joe Biden enjoyed a gentle 90 minutes of questioning that didn't include a single mention of the story that's dominating US headlines.
Neither host George Stephanopoulos nor any of the invited punters in Philadelphia asked about Mr Biden's son Hunter, whose apparent dodgy business dealings with China and Ukraine have been unveiled by the New York Post in recent days.
Today Show host Guthrie was combative throughout the 60 minutes she spent sitting at a distance from Mr Trump on an outdoor stage in Miami.
Asking about his controversial habit of tweeting conspiracy theories, she said: "I don't get it! You're not like someone's crazy uncle who can retweet whatever!"
Her questioning pushed Mr Trump to confirm several newsworthy facts.
He said his recent brush with COVID had caused "some damage" to his lungs, and also confirmed a recent report that he owed more than US$400 million ($A563 million) in personal debt that was due to be repaid in the next four years.
"It sounds like your saying $400 million isn't that much but are you confirming that yes you do owe someone $400 million?" asked Guthrie.
Mr Trump said: "What I am saying is that it's a tiny percentage of my net worth."
"$400 million is a peanut, it's extremely under-levered and it's levered with normal banks, not a big deal."
He said he didn't owe Russia any money but that he may owe some to foreign banks.
But he again refused to release his tax returns, saying they were being audited.
Despite saying on the 2016 campaign trail he would release his tax returns, Mr Trump is the first president in decades to withhold his finances.
He also defended having held a party in the White House Rose Garden for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett the weekend before his diagnosis.
The garden party has been described as a "superspreader event" and been widely criticised for the number of attendees not wearing masks.
"I have to be out," he said.
"As president I can't be locked in a room for the next year and just say and do nothing.
"I can't be locked in a basement."
Pressed on his reluctance to wear a mask in public, he said: "People with masks are catching it all the time."
Mr Biden was able to calmly make several policy points, in contrast to the first debate, when the two men repeatedly spoke over each other and traded insults.
He said that as opposed to Mr Trump, he wanted to be a president who would unify the country over race.
"Every single solitary generation, the dial has moved closer and closer to inclusion," he said.
"We are a country of slaves who came here 400 years ago, indigenous people, and everyone else is an immigrant.
"We're a diverse country. Unless we are able to treat everyone equally, we are never going to meet our potential."
"And I tell you one thing if I'm elected president, you will not hear me race baiting you'll not hear me divide you. You'll hear me trying to unify and unify with bringing people together."
Originally published as Biden's son: 'Addict who can't be trusted'