Hunter Biden says his addiction used as 'disinformation' against father

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Biden's son Hunter to face tax charges in federal court

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hunter Biden on Thursday said his history of substance abuse has become fodder for a disinformation campaign against President Joe Biden ahead of his father's re-election bid.

Hunter Biden made the statement in an op-ed article for USA Today, rare public remarks on a political and legal controversy expected to feature prominently in the 2024 election.

"My struggles and my mistakes have been fodder for a vile and sustained disinformation campaign against him, and an all-out annihilation of my reputation through high-pitched but fruitless congressional investigations and, more recently, criminal charges for possessing an unloaded gun for 11 days five years ago - charges that appear to be the first-ever of their kind brought in the history of Delaware," he wrote.

Hunter Biden, 53, was charged in September with three counts related to lying on a federal form to acquire a handgun in 2018 and for being an illegal drug user in possession of the gun. He pleaded not guilty.

Republicans have accused Hunter Biden, who has worked as a lobbyist, lawyer, investment banker and artist, of wrongdoing relating to his business activities in Ukraine and China and have made him a focus of a congressional impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden. Republicans allege Biden and his family profited from policies he pursued as vice president during former President Barack Obama's administration between 2009 and 2017. Separately, they also allege the Justice Department interfered with the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden.

They have not found any evidence of misconduct by the senior Biden. Congressional hearings so far have included personal emails and photos of Hunter's personal life and addiction history, much of them allegedly culled from a laptop owned by the president's son.

"I am not a victim," Hunter wrote, citing the privilege and opportunities he has had in life. "What troubles me is the demonization of addiction, of human frailty, using me as its avatar and the devastating consequences it has for the millions struggling with addiction."

The gun case marks the first-ever criminal prosecution of a sitting U.S. president's child, an unwanted backdrop for the president's re-election campaign.

U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss, who is prosecuting the gun case, has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation of Hunter Biden to review whether he violated federal tax and gun laws.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Campaign aides have previously said that Hunter Biden's statements are not coordinated with the president's political aides.

Biden's likely 2024 Republican rival, Donald Trump, faces four upcoming criminal trials of his own, two of which are tied to his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden, which he continues to falsely claim is the result of fraud.

Hunter Biden has never held a position in the White House or on his father's campaign. The president has said he has not discussed foreign business dealings with his son and has said his Justice Department would have independence in any investigation of a member of his family.

(Reporting by Reuters Washington bureau; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)