WASHINGTON − President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden publicly acknowledged a seventh grandchild for the first time on Friday.
Referring to his 4-year-old granddaughter living in Arkansas, who his son Hunter Biden fathered out of wedlock, President Biden said in a statement to People magazine: “This is not a political issue, it’s a family matter. Jill and I only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy.”
The Bidens had previously not recognized the existence of the young girl publicly, drawing increasing scrutiny from 2024 Republican presidential contenders and even second-guessing by Democratic supporters.
Biden’s image as a family man who values decency and compassion had been complicated by his decision not to mention the young girl until now.
Since entering the White House, Biden has often spoke of six grandchildren − failing to mention the little girl born to Hunter Biden and 32-year-old Lunden Roberts, whom Hunter met during the peak of his well-documented battle with drug addiction.
But in an article that published early Friday evening, he acknowledged her in a statement, saying, “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.”
Biden’s public acknowledgement comes after Hunter Biden and Lunden Roberts settled a child support lawsuit from Roberts in June and USA TODAY reporting showing that even some of Biden’s supporters are upset about the issue.
A source that PEOPLE described as being close to the Biden family brought up the legal proceedings and said the president and first lady were following Hunter’s lead and giving Navy’s parents space to work out their differences.
In a separate legal matter, Hunter Biden on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to federal two misdemeanor counts of tax evasion in Delaware.
Roberts and her daughter live in Batesville, Arkansas, where she grew up.
Roberts’ Instagram account is filled with photos chronicling her daughter’s life. In one posted on the Fourth of July, the blond-haired girl waves a small American flag and is dressed in a white jumpsuit adorned with the stars and stripes. In another, the child wears a white Air Force One baseball-style cap while standing on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. In another, the girl gazes affectionately at her mother while they pose on a sandy beach.
“I hope one day when you look back you find yourself proud of who you are, where you come from, and most importantly, who raised you,” Roberts wrote in the photo caption.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison and Michael Collins @mcollinsNEWS.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Biden acknowledges Hunter Biden’s 4-year-old daughter