Joe Biden’s Son Kicked Out of Navy Reserve For Cocaine Use

Poor Joe Biden can't stay out of the news. This time, it's not one of his gaffes but one by his youngest son.

Poor Joe Biden can’t stay out of the news. This time, it’s not one of his gaffes but one by his youngest son.

WSJ (“Biden’s Son Hunter Discharged From Navy Reserve After Failing Cocaine Test“):

Vice President Joe Biden ‘s son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve this year after testing positive for cocaine, according to people familiar with the matter.

Hunter Biden, a lawyer by training who is now a managing partner at an investment company, had been commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve, a part-time position. But after failing a drug test last year, his brief military career ended.

Mr. Biden, 44 years old, decided to pursue military service relatively late, beginning the direct-commission process to become a public-affairs officer in the Navy Reserve in 2012. Because of his age—43 when he was to be commissioned—he needed a waiver to join the Navy. He received a second Navy waiver because of a drug-related incident when he was a young man, according to people familiar with the matter. Military officials say such drug waivers aren’t uncommon.

Mr. Biden was commissioned as an ensign on May 7, 2013, and assigned to Navy Public Affairs Support Element East in Norfolk, Va., a reserve unit, according to the Navy. In June 2013, after reporting to his unit in Norfolk, he was given a drug test, which turned up positive for cocaine, according to people familiar with the situation. Mr. Biden was discharged in February, the Navy said.

Mr. Biden said in a statement that it was “the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge. I respect the Navy’s decision. With the love and support of my family, I’m moving forward.”

The vice president’s office declined to comment. The Navy said Mr. Biden met all of the criteria for a direct commission, but declined to provide any details of why he was discharged. “Like other junior officers, the details of Ens. Biden’s discharge are not releasable due to the Privacy Act,” Cmdr. Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman, said.

NPR and CNN also have coverage, although they appear to be relying on the WSJ report.

Given Hunter Biden’s response and his past history, it’s reasonable to conclude that he has a drug problem. That’s a bit sad, given that he’s a father of three. He’s had a privileged life as the son of a senator and vice president and had a lot of connections. But he doesn’t come across as the spoiled playboy. He survived the car accident that killed his mother and sister when he was two and went on to graduate from Georgetown and Yale Law and have a strong career as an attorney, businessman, and public official.

It’s also worth noting that Biden’s older son, Beau, who’s Delaware’s attorney general and often touted as a candidate for higher posts, serves honorably in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he has attained the rank of major and served a year in Iraq.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Because of his age—43 when he was to be commissioned—he needed a waiver to join the Navy. He received a second Navy waiver because of a drug-related incident when he was a young man, according to people familiar with the matter. Military officials say such drug waivers aren’t uncommon.

    I’ve seen it asserted that these waivers are most often used for those who have critically needed skills — translators, doctors, and the like. Biden the Younger was a Public Affairs Officer. Are they usually considered critically needed?

    Or was there special treatment for a guy who is the Veep’s son and AG’s brother?

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I think Biden was an exceptional case regardless of being the veep’s son. He’s a Yale Law grad who has served on various corporate boards and appointed political positions. (Yes, those came partly because of who his dad was.) Given his wealth and background, he was unlikely to stay in long enough to earn a pension, which is the reason for the age limit to begin with; you have to have enough time left before mandatory retirement to qualify.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    it’s reasonable to conclude that he has a drug problem.

    I don’t think there is nearly enough evidence at hand to come to that conclusion. It’s tantamount to the definition of alcoholism, which many, many, people who aren’t alcoholics fall into. I’m not saying you are wrong. I’m only saying we don’t know enough to assume.
    We can say that he f’ed up in a big way. This is a guy that won the lottery. The VP’s son. Gimme a break. There is some responsibility that comes with being that lucky. He failed.

  4. beth says:

    @C. Clavin: I’ve known people who used cocaine recreationally. I’d never classify them as addicts or say they had a drug problem. Of course none of them are dumb enough to do it when they’ve got a job that drug tests them. That’s incredibly stupid.

  5. Eric Florack says:

    (Snicker)
    I can’t help but reflect that with a different name…. say, Bush, attached to this story, Clavins tune would be far more strident.

    That said, for the first time in recent memory, Clavin got one right.
    Next question, though, is, is there a lesson to be had from all this?

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @beth:
    Yup.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    You seem to forget that Bush was AWOL and snorting coke and a Republican SCOTUS still appointed him President. So who cares about the son of the VP?

  8. @Jenos Idanian #13:
    He had to receive his 1st waiver due to his age. An individual must be able
    to complete 20 years of credible service before reaching age 60. Without
    the waiver he would have had to be 64.

    As for the drugs, the military is very strict on the matter. From time to time
    the different branches of service do give waivers for some non-violent
    crimes. This happens usually during a war or conflict, when the military
    needs more troops. Seems that he joined up during the Afghani war.

  9. Pinky says:

    @Eric Florack: Florack, you ruined it by bringing up Bush. I had the over/under at 3 comments, and was pleasantly surprised.

  10. Electroman says:

    Waivers due to drug-related “incidents” (arrests) are uncommon; waivers due to self-admitted drug usage are very common.

    Failing a drug test the month after your date of commission is….sad. And stupid.

  11. Eric Florack says:

    @Pinky: Ok. Palin?

  12. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin: and YOU seem to have forgotten that those points were investigated endlesssly and still are unproved.

  13. Eric Florack says:

    @Pinky: and by the way… given Clavins reaxx, Id say it served its purpose. Thus vindicated, I retire.

  14. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “Thus vindicated, I retire.”

    Forever, I hope.

  15. Pinky says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I’m wondering why he signed up for it at all. I remember being 23. I wasn’t in good enough shape to serve. Twenty years later, I reeeeallly wasn’t in good enough shape. And what did he believe he had to contribute that he didn’t have at, say, 37?

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    But back to the original point: Biden the Younger got TWO waivers to be commissioned into the Navy so he could be a flack, but couldn’t keep off the nose candy long enough to get past his first weekend drill.

    Just as stupid as his father, just in different ways.

    And I’m sure his familial connections were COMPLETELY irrelevant, and he was accepted purely on his merits…

  17. anjin-san says:

    I would say that this is a guy with a drug problem, not a guy who just did something dumb and got caught.

  18. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And I’m sure his familial connections were COMPLETELY irrelevant, and he was accepted purely on his merits…

    Powerful, well connected people have advantages, often very unfair advantages, that are not available to the average Joe. This is not news, and it is not a partisan issue. It’s simply a fact of life.

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Powerful, well connected people have advantages, often very unfair advantages, that are not available to the average Joe. This is not news, and it is not a partisan issue. It’s simply a fact of life.

    The question is, did his father and/or his brother pull any strings explicitly, did Sniffy drop their names, or was it all just tacitly understood by The Powers That Be that signed off on his two waivers?

    And it’ll remain a question, because it won’t get answered.

  20. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz

  21. President Camacho says:

    Coke only remains in your system about 2-3 days – he couldn’t stop 2-3 days before a drill weekend?

  22. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @President Camacho: Coke only remains in your system about 2-3 days – he couldn’t stop 2-3 days before a drill weekend?

    Hey, he’s HUNTER BIDEN! His brother’s the AG, and his father’s the Veep! Rules aren’t for people like him! They’re goddamned lucky he even bothered to show up!

  23. Electroman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I had no idea that Holder was so closely related to the Bidens. *guffaw*

  24. Matt says:

    @1SG (Ret) U.S. Army: Waivers were being handed out by the fistful during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I know this because one of my friends has a criminal record and he had to get a waiver. He told me about some of the other people there and I was amazed that they were able to get waivers despite their serious crimes.

  25. President Camacho says:

    They weren’t giving out waivers for officers in the navy reserve as PAOs. This was a big waiver

  26. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    His brother’s the AG

    I thought his brother was that Harm Rabb dude on TV…

  27. RGardner says:

    I’m a Retired Navy Officer (no longer Fleet Reserve, yeah, Navy doesn’t retire like Army, we can be recalled until 30 years, different USC). I don’t interview well (Looking at my interviews before friendly Military Press, um, ah..). But I’ve worked with many PA folks (~10), both regular and reserve and respect what they are tasked to do.

    But to fail a drug test as an ensign? YGTBSM!

    But isn’t worth the money to pursue it any further, kick him.her out, OTH or General Discharge.

    Not an issue unless daddy runs for President.

    .

  28. Eliza Robotte says:

    @Eric Florack: That’s very interesting. Please tell us more!

  29. Eliza Robotte says:

    @Eric Florack: That’s very interesting. Please tell us more.