Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter recently married a Los Angeles woman, according to the bride’s mother. Hunter’s surprise marriage to Melissa Cohen, who has South African roots, once again landed him in gossip columns and reinforced his reputation as an unpredictable character in father’s political narrative.
TMZ and Page Six on Wednesday revealed the unexpected nuptials of 49-year-old Hunter, whose love life has previously been the subject of tabloid-worthy drama: In 2017 he divorced his wife of more than 20 years, Kathleen Biden, after a messy split in which she accused him of blowing money on drugs and strip clubs.
Hunter had long lived in the shadow of his older brother, Beau, who was attorney general of Delaware, a military veteran and encouraged to run for higher office. Hunter, an attorney, was discharged from the Navy in 2014 after failing a drug test.
Following a battle with brain cancer, Beau died in 2015 at age 46 – leaving his family devastated. His grieving father wrestled with whether to run for president in 2016, ultimately deciding to wait out the race. The former vice president has cited Beau as an inspiration for his 2020 bid.
At the same time, Hunter’s tumultuous personal life has played out in public. Following his divorce from Kathleen, with whom he has three daughters, the Biden family acknowledged he was dating Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow and mother of Hunter’s niece and nephew.
Joe and Jill Biden maintained a unified front with Hunter in light of questions about the unusual romance, releasing a supportive statement to Page Six in 2017: “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness. They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”
It’s unclear when Hunter and Hallie Biden stopped dating, but Page Six in early May confirmed their split. TMZ reported the “surprise” wedding between Hunter and Melissa Cohen happened May 16.
While Hunter’s love life has made headlines, his business dealings have also been a subject of interest in the 2020 campaign. President Donald Trump and some Trump surrogates have attacked Hunter for his foreign business entanglements and have shared reports of his alleged substance abuse, according to reporting by The Washington Post’s Matt Viser and Ashley Parker.
Joe Biden, who leads the Democratic field in polling, speaks often about his family and being a family man is an important part of his political brand. He recently skipped an important campaign event in Iowa to attend his granddaughter’s high school graduation. “The incredible bond I have with my children is the gift I’m not sure I would have had, had I not been through what I went through,” Joe Biden said to Yale students in 2015, reflecting on the tragic death of his first wife and his close-knit family.
Biden family pride was on display celebrating Joe and Jill’s daughter Ashley’s design work at the reopening of the Hamilton Hotel just hours before the tabloid story broke. Jill Biden and Hunter’s daughters attended the event.
The following day, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the news of Hunter’s marriage, and attempts to reach Hunter and Melissa Cohen were unsuccessful.
Little is known about Hunter’s new bride and what role, if any, she’ll play in the Biden presidential campaign.
It is the second marriage for Cohen, as well; she split from her first husband in 2014, according to public records. She co-owns a business in Los Angeles called Tribal Worlds, whose mission is to “promote indigenous conservation,” according to public records.
Zoe Cohen, Melissa Cohen’s mother, who was reached by phone in the bride’s native South Africa said: “They are very happy.” She declined to provide more details of her daughter’s marriage to the former vice president’s son. “She’s a very special girl,” she added.
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Washington Post research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.