(The Hill) — After former President Donald Trump learned he was being indicted late last month, he took to the Truth Social platform to ask a question he and other Republicans have posed many times: “Where’s Hunter?”
Trump was referring to Hunter Biden, the president’s son, who has been under federal investigation in recent years for tax fraud and alleged unethical relationships with foreign governments.
The former president and his allies have seized on Hunter Biden, seeking to make the case that the president’s son has eluded criminal charges. The question has become a kind of dog-whistle to Trump’s base, even appearing on T-shirts and bumper stickers.
“He has totally disappeared!” Trump wrote in a Twitter post in 2019.
President Biden’s sister Valerie Biden Owens, left, and son Hunter Biden look on as a child hands President Biden a toy Air Force One as he greets people at Dublin International Airport in Dublin, Ireland, on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
During President Joe Biden’s campaign and the early months of his presidency, Hunter Biden did keep a relatively low profile.
But lately that has changed, with the president’s son maintaining a steady presence at White House events.
This week, for example, he joined family members including his young son, Beau, at the Easter Egg Roll, after spending the holiday weekend with the Biden family at Camp David.
And as the president traveled to Ireland a day later, Hunter Biden was at his side along with his aunt, President Biden’s sister Valerie Owens.
Before leaving on the trip, Biden told reporters that both family members “hadn’t been there before.”
Hunter Biden’s more-frequent presence comes as he has sought to go on the offensive after years of incoming fire from Republicans, marking a shift in strategy.
In February, he requested a criminal probe into Trump’s allies who he says stole information on his personal laptop to use against him.
The House GOP majority entering its 100th day in power has vowed to put Hunter Biden at the center of its investigations.
White House allies are confident those GOP investigations will backfire, pointing to polling that indicates the American public doesn’t care about the younger Biden’s business dealings.
“He clearly feels like he has been mistreated and is trying to control the narrative,” said one Democratic strategist.
Hunter Biden’s presence in the presidential delegation to Ireland — his first foreign trip during his father’s administration — created headlines for the president, including on Fox News.
“Biden takes son Hunter and sister Valerie to Ireland as investigations heat up,” a headline on Fox News read, referring to the House inquiries.
Other conservative sites also jumped on the story.
“Let’s just remind the Newsmax viewers: When Hunter flew with Vice President Biden on Air Force 2 to China, the week after he came home, he inked a deal for $1.3 billion with the national bank of communist China, a deal that JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs could never have gotten,” Sebastian Gorka, who served as an adviser to Trump during his presidency, said on the Newsmax show “Rob Schmitt Tonight” on Tuesday evening.
“So, my question is, what deal is Hunter going to get from some Irish billionaire next week?”
A White House spokesperson said the president’s son would be covering personal expenses on the trip.
“Historically, family members of presidents and first ladies have frequently joined them during international travel,” the spokesperson said. “Current practices are consistent with those used by prior administration.”
Trump, for example, also took his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, to Ireland on a 2019 trip, when the two made headlines for going on a pub crawl the night before commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Hunter Biden has appeared at other White House events in recent months including the state dinner in December honoring French President Emmanuel Macron.
But on the trip to Ireland this week, Biden’s son was front-and-center at times alongside his father.
After landing in rainy Dublin, Hunter Biden—who was photographed carrying an umbrella for his father as the president talked to the Taoiseach and diplomatic officials — also accompanied his father to a firehouse off the tarmac, where Biden delivered brief remarks and spoke to a crowd of 250 embassy officials and their children.
When one of the children asked a question about the “top step to success” and Biden didn’t understand the gist of it, Hunter Biden sought to clarify.
“What’s the key to success?” the younger Biden told his dad.
Later, while President Biden recounted a story about the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R) and mistakingly said he was from South Carolina, Hunter Biden interjected with “North.”
The strategist said the trip “gave us a glimpse into the president’s relationship with his son. We haven’t seen that on display much before during this presidency.”