After My Father Died
In , Archer and Hunter talked to Jonathan Li, who ran a Chinese private-equity fund, Bohai Capital, about becoming partners in a new company that would invest Chinese capital—and, potentially, capital from other countries—in companies outside China. In June, , Li, Archer, and other business partners signed a memorandum of understanding to create the fund, which they named BHR Partners, and, in November, they signed contracts related to the deal. Biden often asked one of his grandchildren to accompany him on his international trips, and he invited Finnegan to come on this one. Hunter told his father that he wanted to join them.
Afterward, Hunter and Li had what both parties described as a social meeting. Optics really mattered, and that seemed to be cutting it pretty close, even if nothing nefarious was going on. Others said that they were wary of hurting his feelings. That was always my fear, that I would be really touching a very fragile part of him. For another venture, Archer travelled to Kiev to pitch investors on a real-estate fund he managed, Rosemont Realty. Zlochevsky had served as ecology minister under the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
After public protests in and early , the Ukrainian parliament had voted to remove Yanukovych and called for his arrest.
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Under the new Ukrainian government, authorities in Kiev, with the encouragement of the Obama Administration, launched an investigation into whether Zlochevsky had used his cabinet position to grant exploration licenses that benefitted Burisma. The status of the inquiry is unclear, but no proof of criminal activity has been publicly disclosed. Zlochevsky could not be reached for comment, and Burisma did not respond to queries. In a related investigation, which was ultimately closed owing to a lack of evidence, British authorities temporarily froze U. In early , Zlochevsky sought to assemble a high-profile international board to oversee Burisma, telling prospective members that he wanted the company to adopt Western standards of transparency.
Archer agreed. Hunter joined Archer on the Burisma board in April, Vice-President Biden was playing a central role in overseeing U.
Hunter was not always at ease as the son of the Vice-President. He asked that the Secret Service stop deploying agents to accompany him, a request that was eventually granted. The two girls became close, and Kathleen and Michelle Obama became friends, attending SoulCycle and Solidcore exercise classes together almost every day. Some evenings, they went out to dinner or had drinks at the White House.
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Kathleen went on vacations with Michelle, mutual friends, and their daughters. But he often wished that, like his father and his brother, he could contribute more to society. Through his business, he got to know an Australian-American former military-intelligence officer named Greg Keeley, who regaled him with stories about his career in the Royal Australian Navy.
After moving to the United States, at forty, Keeley had obtained an age waiver to join the U. Navy as a reservist. While on reserve duty at a U.
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Hunter took that message to heart and acted upon it. Hunter had suffered his first relapse, after seven years of sobriety, in November, , when he drank three Bloody Marys on a flight home from a business trip to Madrid. He continued to drink in secret for several months, then confided in Beau and returned to Crossroads Centre. He had another relapse in early , after he suffered from a bout of shingles, for which he was prescribed painkillers.
When the prescription ran out, he resumed drinking. He had hoped to work in naval intelligence, but was given a job in a public-affairs unit. In a small, private ceremony at the White House, Hunter was sworn in by his father. Outside, Hunter said, he bummed a cigarette from two men who told him that they were from South Africa.
On his first day, Hunter had a urine sample taken for testing. A few months later, Hunter received a letter saying that his urinalysis had detected cocaine in his system. Under Navy rules, a positive drug test typically triggers a discharge.
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Hunter decided not to appeal. Hunter did not tell anyone except his father and his brother about the reason for his discharge, and he tried to get his drinking under control. In July, , he went to a clinic in Tijuana that provided a treatment using ibogaine, a psychoactive alkaloid derived from the roots of a West African shrub, which is illegal in America.
I could see that he was in a very delicate position. At San Francisco International Airport, Hunter was waiting for his flight home when he saw the story on the front page of the Journal. In the summer of , Hunter, Beau, and their families took a vacation together on Lake Michigan. During the trip, Beau became disoriented and was rushed to the hospital. It was glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain tumor.
Patients who receive similar diagnoses tend to live no longer than two years. As Beau received radiation treatment, his motor and speech skills started to decline. In the spring of , he underwent an experimental procedure in which an engineered virus was injected directly into the tumor, but it was unsuccessful. Beau kept breathing on his own for almost a day and a half before he died, surrounded by his family. On June 6, , thousands of people paid their respects at a service at St. Anthony of Padua Church, in Wilmington. The next day, President Obama, Ashley Biden, and Hunter, who was fearful of public speaking, delivered eulogies.
On the drive back to Washington, Hunter—moved by the outpouring of support for him and his family at the funeral—told Kathleen that he was thinking about running for public office.
She pointed out that he had only recently been discharged from the Navy after testing positive for cocaine. They rode the rest of the way home in silence. Kathleen declined to comment for this article. In couples therapy, Hunter and Kathleen had reached an agreement: if Hunter started drinking again, he would have to move out of the house. A day after their twenty-second anniversary, Hunter left a therapy session, drank a bottle of vodka, and moved out.
Later that month, Zlochevsky, the Burisma co-founder, invited him to Norway on a fishing trip. Hunter said that, every night, he and his colleagues on the trip drank a single shot of liquor before going to bed. Kathleen found out and was angry. Hunter began to confide in Hallie, whom he was growing closer to. He then enrolled in an inpatient program for executives at Caron Treatment Centers, where he used the pseudonym Hunter Smith. On returning to Washington, he began a program that required him to carry a Breathalyzer with a built-in camera. Hunter denied that the account belonged to him, but Kathleen was deeply embarrassed by the story.
Two months later, Hunter and Kathleen agreed to formally separate. Until mid-December, Hunter practiced yoga daily. Hunter told me that he pretended not to be at home.
For weeks, he said, he left the apartment only to buy bottles of Smirnoff vodka at Logan Circle Liquor. Several times a day, his father called him, and Hunter assured him that he was O. Eventually, Biden showed up unannounced at the apartment. What do we have to do? When he returned to Washington, he enrolled in yet another addiction-treatment program, run by the Kolmac Outpatient Recovery Center.
On his way to Kolmac, he passed several homeless people, including a middle-aged woman who went by the name Bicycles, because of the bike she took with her everywhere.