Joe Biden publicly acknowledges his seventh grandchild, Navy Joan Roberts, for the first time

US president had been accused of hypocrisy for espousing importance of family while failing to acknowledge four-year-old child of his son Hunter Biden

US president Joe Biden speaks at an event touting his administration’s economic policies and progress in Auburn, Maine, on Friday. Photograph: Desiree Rios/New York Times

US president Joe Biden publicly acknowledged his four-year-old granddaughter, Navy Joan Roberts, for the first time on Friday, saying in a statement that he and the first lady, Jill Biden, “only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy”.

The statement came weeks after a lengthy child support case was settled between the president’s son, Hunter, and the child’s mother, Lunden Roberts, who told the New York Times this month that she and Hunter “want what is best for our daughter, and that is our only focus”.

The president had been under increasing pressure from critics who said that failing to acknowledge Navy publicly went against the image of a loving patriarch that he has nurtured since the beginning of his political career. In recent weeks, the president told his son that he wants to meet Navy when the time is right, according to a person familiar with those discussions who was not authorised to speak publicly.

Hunter Biden, who is recovering from a crack cocaine addiction, has said in the past that he fathered Navy at a low point in his life and that he did not have a relationship with her.


In his statement, the president said his son and Ms Roberts were working to repair a relationship that had devolved quickly after Navy’s birth and, in recent months, had become grist for conservative media.

“Our son Hunter and Navy’s mother, Lunden, are working together to foster a relationship that is in the best interests of their daughter, preserving her privacy as much as possible going forward,” Mr Biden told People magazine in a statement.

“This is not a political issue, it’s a family matter,” Mr Biden said. “Jill and I only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy.”

Hunter Biden has four other children. The eldest, Naomi, married on the South Lawn of the White House last fall. The youngest, who is named for Hunter’s late brother, Beau, is three years old and is photographed frequently with his grandparents.

Maureen Dowd: Joe Biden’s treatment of his seventh grandchild is callous and hypocriticalOpens in new window ]

The White House had no comment on whether or when the president intends to meet Navy, who lives in Arkansas. Ms Roberts and her attorney, Clint Lancaster, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

A person familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private matter, said the Bidens had been following Hunter’s lead on how to proceed. In strategy meetings in recent years, aides have been told that the Bidens have six, not seven, grandchildren, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

In April, the president told a group of children that he had six grandchildren. “And I’m crazy about them. And I speak to them every single day. Not a joke,” he said.

The person familiar with the situation said Mr Biden would say that he had seven grandchildren going forward.

In earlier interviews, Ms Roberts had said Navy was proud of the paternal side of her family.

“She’s very proud of who her grandfather is and who her dad is,” Ms Roberts said. “That is something that I would never allow her to think otherwise.”

Ms Roberts, 32, and Hunter Biden, 53, ended a years-long court battle over child support in June, agreeing that Hunter Biden, who has embarked on a second career as a painter, would turn over a number of his paintings to his daughter in addition to providing a monthly support payment.

Before that settlement, Hunter had paid Ms Roberts upward of $750,000, according to his attorneys, and had sought to reduce his $20,000-a-month child support payment on the grounds that he did not have the money. The new amount is lower than what had been originally ordered by the court, according to a person familiar with the case.

Navy will select the paintings from her father, according to court documents.

– This article originally appeared in The New York Times.