The Truth About Hunter Biden's Military History

Donald Trump getting personal during the first 2020 presidential debate surprised exactly... no one. President Trump going after presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter's business dealings? That also sounds, suspiciously, like reruns from Trump rallies past (via BuzzFeed). So when Trump, predictably, went after them, the media fact-checkers most likely already had half their articles written, discrediting the president's largely unfounded allegations (via The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times). 

What the internet wasn't completely expecting, however, was Donald Trump's comeback to Joe Biden's story about his late son, Beau's, military service. Biden brought up Beau's service in reference to The Atlantic article that jarred much of Trump's supporter base earlier this month by reporting that Trump called America's fallen soldiers "losers and suckers." "He was not a loser," said Joe Biden of his son, "He was a patriot, and the people left behind there are heroes."

Why Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy

Trump did not hesitate to swing back. "I don't know Beau," said the President, using his now-familiar comeback. "I know Hunter," he continued, "Hunter got thrown out of the military... he was dishonorably discharged."

While it is true that Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy Reserve, he was not, as Trump alleged, dishonorably discharged. Joe Biden's son began his service in May 2013, as a public affairs officer in a reserve unit based in Norfolk, Virginia (via CNN). In June he tested positive for cocaine, and by February the following year, the Navy had administratively discharged him for it. (According to VetVerify, in contrast to an administrative discharge, a dishonorable discharge is punitive and is only issued for the most "reprehensible" conduct.) 

How Joe Biden defended his son, Hunter, during the first presidential debate

"It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy," Hunter Biden told CNN at the time, "I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge."

Joe Biden leapt to Hunter's defense during the September 2020 presidential head-to-head debate. "I'm proud of my son," Biden said, pointing out that Hunter had since sought out treatment and overcome his addiction. And this time, it seems, Trump may well have gone too far. Plenty of those in the Twitterverse have taken Joe and Hunter Biden's side. "The US reveres its military and those that serve. Both Beau and Hunter Biden were in the military. None of the Trumps were," pointed out one debate viewer. "There is no rathole this President won't crawl into," vented another.