The youngest Biden, 53, is often a fixture alongside his father at family-focused events like the White House Easter Egg Roll. But he has also accompanied the president on official government trips, such as when Biden went to Ireland in April.

The White House says Hunter Biden paid for his own trip to Ireland, in line with practices in place under previous administrations when family members accompany the president on trips abroad.

And, most notably, Hunter Biden was invited to a White House state dinner with the Indian leader just two days after the public learned of a plea deal he reached with the Justice Department for tax evasion. taxes and charges for possession of weapons. Hunter Biden, as well as Attorney General Merrick Garland, were among the 400 dinner guests when Republicans accused the president’s son of getting a «lovely» plea deal. Some Democrats privately cringed at the decision.

Hunter Biden attends the State Dinner at the White House on June 22, 2023.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A Democratic member of Congress, who did not want to be named criticizing the White House, urged the president to consider «optics» in the wake of allegations by the Republican Party that his son received preferential treatment in the Justice Department investigation.

«He’s a loving father whose son has had a real drug problem, and he has to use some common sense,» the lawmaker said. “He has to become more sensitive to optics. He is running for re-election.»

But others defended Biden for inviting his son to the state dinner.

“He’s the president’s son,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. “It is normal for the president to invite family members to one of the most important events of his presidency.”

Rep. Jim Clyburn, DS.C., a close ally of the president, said it was «not at all» a mistake for Biden to invite his son to the state dinner.

«It can be a problem for some people, but it wasn’t a problem for me,» Clyburn said on «Meet the Press Now.» «It was him being a dad.»

It was no doubt for the president and first lady that Hunter Biden would be invited to India’s prime minister’s state dinner last week because he is family, people familiar with the matter said.

As for whether Hunter Biden might decide to step back from the spotlight or decline invitations to state dinners, a longtime associate of the president said: «He’s doing this with a father who is terribly afraid, as he should be, of what he’s going to do.» that happens to many. people struggling with addiction, as would any parent of anyone who has struggled with addiction, about relapse.”

The president and White House officials chose not to comment on the federal case against Hunter Biden or reject Republican allegations that he received special treatment from the Justice Department. But White House officials quietly enlisted the help of outside allies in sending a message about the Hunter Biden plea deal, specifically to counter GOP criticism that he got away easily because of who his father is. .

«There’s a feeling that Hunter basically shouldn’t be talked about and that he’s a drag,» said a person familiar with the White House dynamic involving the president’s son. “And there is another view from those closest to the Biden family that vigorous advocacy is necessary, and they welcome that coming from the outside.”

Politically, Biden’s view is that Americans will find his relationship with his son relatable from a family perspective, and that staying with someone in recovery is just as important as the recovery itself, people close to the president said. The president also sees Hunter Biden’s expected guilty plea on tax evasion and gun charges as his son taking responsibility for her past actions, they said.

A White House official spontaneously pointed to a Reuters/Ipsos poll last week showed that 60% of Americans believe Biden is being a good father by supporting his son as he navigates legal troubles.

But the poll also found that half of those polled believe Hunter Biden is receiving favorable treatment from the Justice Department because he is the president’s son. And 58% said Hunter Biden’s plea deal will have no impact on their likelihood of voting for his father in the 2024 presidential election.

John McLaughlin, one of Trump’s pollsters, said the former president’s 2024 campaign plans to continue to focus on Hunter Biden and his business dealings.

“I can tell you that the Trump campaign will continue to press the issue of Biden’s corruption,” McLaughlin said. It’s our job to bring that to light.»

kristen welker, mike memoli, Katherine Doyle and Peter Nicholas contributed.