A brief history of presidential family members who were a political liability

Scandal and crime have plagued the political landscape in the United States for generations, sometimes causing headaches for presidents whose own family members have proved themselves to be a political liability.

From gun crimes, arrests for drunk driving, and investigations of alleged influence peddling, several past presidents have been bogged down by legal drama surrounding some of their closest family members.


President family members

From gun crimes, arrests for drunk driving, and investigations of alleged influence peddling, several past presidents have been bogged down by legal drama surrounding some of their closest family members. (Getty Images)

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden

Hunter Biden, the son of President Biden, was found guilty Tuesday on all charges in his historic criminal case focused on his purchase of a firearm in 2018.

Though he pleaded not guilty in the case, Hunter Biden was found guilty of making a false statement to purchase a gun, making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federally licensed gun dealer, and possession of a gun by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.

Hunter Biden’s trial lasted about six and a half days and included emotional testimony from members of his family, including daughter Naomi Biden, ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and sister-in-law turned girlfriend, Hallie Biden.

Prosecutors worked to prove that Hunter Biden lied on a federal firearm form, known as ATF Form 4473, in October 2018 when he ticked a box labeled “No” when asked if he is an unlawful user of a firearm or addicted to controlled substances. Hunter Biden purchased the gun from a store called StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply in Wilmington.

President Biden has said he would not pardon his son. 

Hunter Biden will return to court on Sept. 5 in California for a tax trial.

Special Counsel David Weiss charged Hunter Biden with three felonies and six misdemeanors concerning $1.4 million in owed taxes that have since been paid. Weiss alleged a “four-year scheme” when the president’s son did not pay his federal income taxes from January 2017 to October 2020 while also filing false tax reports.

Hunter Biden Joe Biden

Then Vice President-elect, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., left, stands with his son Hunter during a re-enactment of the Senate oath ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington in January 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


Roger Clinton, half brother of former President Bill Clinton

Roger Clinton, the younger half-brother of former President Bill Clinton, has a history of making news headlines.

Ahead of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where Hillary Clinton was announced as the party’s nominee for president, Roger Clinton was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in California in June 2016. He was sentenced to three years probation and two days in jail.

Prior to that, Roger Clinton was arrested in 2001 for drunk driving and disorderly conduct in California.

Roger Clinton was also arrested in the 1980s for selling cocaine to an undercover officer during his brother’s tenure as the governor of Arkansas. The interaction was caught on camera, and he eventually pleaded guilty in that case before spending a year in prison after he was convicted in 1985.

That crime, along with others, however, was erased from Roger Clinton’s criminal record when President Clinton pardoned him and many others on January 20, 2001, his last day in office.

Through an investigation by congressional Republicans, the Washington Post reported in 2016 that it was “revealed that Roger gave Bill a list of people he thought should be pardoned, but that he had not been paid to make those recommendations (none of which were granted).”

“The investigation did turn up information that Hillary Clinton’s brother Hugh had received $400,000 to lobby the president for some pardons – money that he eventually returned,” the outlet noted.

Then-Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his half-brother, Roger, with a group of supporters, on July 16, 1992.

Then-Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his half-brother, Roger, with a group of supporters, on July 16, 1992. (Ron Sachs/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Billy Carter, brother of former President Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter also had a brother who created political headaches for him during his tenure in the White House.

Dubbed “Billygate,” a federally investigated scandal involving Billy Carter, the younger brother of President Carter, quickly drew the nation’s attention in the late 1970s.

Billy Carter traveled to Libya in 1978 and 1979 and later registered as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received what he said was a $220,000 loan. At the time, Libya was led by Col. Mu’ammar Qadhafi and was barred from arms sales.

An investigation into alleged influence peddling took place. A Senate sub-committee was called “To Investigate Activities of Individuals Representing Interests of Foreign Governments (Billy Carter—Libya Investigation).”

Ultimately, the committee found no evidence that Billy Carter, who died from cancer in 1988, had influenced U.S. policy. The committee’s report did say, however, that President Carter had been negligent by not dissociating himself from his brother’s activities ahead of the 1980 presidential election.

Billy Carter, Jimmy Carter

Then-President Jimmy Carter pictured with his brother Billy Carter during a softball game in Plains, Georgia, on August 24, 1977. (UPI/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)


Neil Bush, son of former President George H.W. Bush

Neil Bush, the fourth child of former President George H.W. Bush, was investigated for the failure of Silverado Banking, Savings and Loan Association, of which he served as director from 1985 to 1988.

The U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision investigated the failure and said in April 1991 that Neil Bush engaged in conflicts of interest.

Timothy Ryan, the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), said at the time that Neil Bush “engaged in unsafe or unsound practices and breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest.”

A formal complaint against Neil Bush claimed he put the institution at risk by voting on loans to one of his business partners and failed to disclose his ties to at least one other borrower.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) sued Neil Bush and 12 other former directors of the Denver-based Silverado in 1990 for $200 million, alleging “gross negligence” that contributed to the collapse. The FDIC alleged the directors and Neil Bush “repeatedly breached their duties” to the institution and depositors.

Bush eventually settled the lawsuit out of court for $50,000.

George H.W. Bush, Neil Bush

Former President George H.W. Bush (left) along with wife Barbara Bush sit on the front row with their son Neil Bush and his wife Maria Bush at Fashion Houston 2010 on October 12, 2010, in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/WireImage)

Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.

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