Fact Check

Does 4th of July Video Show Hunter Biden Sniffing Cocaine at White House?

Numerous posts tried to connect the actual discovery of cocaine in the White House to Hunter Biden's actions at a Fourth of July event.

Published July 6, 2023

 (Screenshot via Twitter)
Image Via Screenshot via Twitter
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Claim:
A video captured on July 4, 2023, authentically showed Hunter Biden sniffing cocaine in front of his family on the White House balcony.
Context

The five-second viral clip was taken from a longer video in which Hunter Biden could be seen interacting with U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden at an event on the White House balcony on July 4, 2023. The video was misleadingly edited in an attempt to draw attention to his actions. There was no tangible evidence that the video showed him cocaine on the balcony.

On July 5, 2023, a video clip surfaced claiming to show Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, on the White House balcony sniffing cocaine and acting "high as a kite" in the presence of his father, Jill Biden, and several children. 

The clip went viral a few days after news broke that the Secret Service found cocaine in the White House.

The above-displayed video clip was taken from a longer video of Hunter Biden interacting with Jill Biden and Joe Biden at an event on the White House balcony on July 4, 2023. The family was watching a fireworks display. We obtained a copy of that extended footage via a CNN-News 18 streaming link that showed uninterrupted footage of the Bidens watching the fireworks. 

By watching that unedited footage of the July 4 event, we determined that the clip in the above-displayed tweets — which amounted to a total of five seconds of video — was purposely edited in an attempt to draw attention to, and raise suspicions about, Hunter's behavior. During that five seconds, which is displayed in slow motion and frame-by-frame in the clips, Hunter is seen rubbing his face and nose, and pushing his hair back. Additionally, the frame zoomed in on Hunter in the clip, unlike the original video.

That said, there was no tangible evidence that the video — whether edited or straight from the streamed news footage of the event — documented Hunter doing cocaine on the balcony in the presence of his family and cameras. His movements could have been driven by any number of factors beside drugs, such as the day's warm temperatures.

In addition to the manipulated viral clip, numerous headlines and posts attempted to draw a connection between Hunter's presence and the cocaine found days earlier in the White House, though there was no publicly available evidence substantiating any such connection. A Fox News segment from July 5, 2023, was headlined on YouTube, "Hunter Biden spotted at WH after possible cocaine found in West Wing." In the news clip, host Kayleigh McEnany referred to the event on the balcony depicted in the viral clip, saying, "Hunter Biden joining the first family on the White House balcony for the Fourth of July fireworks show as Secret Service agents investigate suspected cocaine that was found in the West Wing." 

The cocaine was discovered in the White House on July 2, at which time the Biden family, including Hunter, was at Camp David. Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, said the substance was found in a "work area of the West Wing."

He added to the media that "the item was sent for further evaluation and an investigation into the cause and manner of how it entered the White House is pending."

Biden and his family returned to the White House on July 4 for the Independence Day festivities depicted in the viral clip and another event with the National Education Association.

In the longer CNN-News 18 video showing the Bidens standing on the balcony watching fireworks, Hunter can be seen holding his son Beau Jr. in his arms around the 16-minute mark. More than one minute later, at around 17:21, he can be seen wiping his face, possibly due to sweat. The temperature was in the high 80s (Fahrenheit) that day, and went down to 80 degrees in the evening. A number of family members appeared to be sweating. 

At the 17:37 mark, Hunter can be seen pushing his hair back and rubbing his nose as he moved toward the back of the balcony. Those were the actions that were slowed down, and zoomed in on, in the viral clips.

Hunter has publicly spoken about his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and admitted to smoking crack cocaine in the past. His father has often defended him from criticism, saying he "worked on" his substance-abuse issues.

We have covered rumors about cocaine at the White House before. 

In sum, there was no evidence to the claim or implication that the in-question video showed Hunter Biden doing cocaine on the White House balcony on July 4, nor was there any proof that the cocaine found in the White House a few days prior was connected to him. As the Secret Service's investigation into the latter remained ongoing, the edited, five-second viral clip of the Bidens watching fireworks was a misrepresentation of what were more likely innocuous family interactions in public. For those reasons, we rated the claim as Miscaptioned. 

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Sources

Chasmar, Jessica. "Joe Biden Takes Hunter to Camp David Two Weekends in a Row amid Scandal." Fox News, 2 July 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/joe-biden-takes-hunter-camp-david-two-weekends-row-amid-scandal. Accessed 6 July 2023.

"Hunter Biden Details Lifelong Addiction Struggle in Memoir." AP News, 31 Mar. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/hunter-biden-ukraine-firm-memoir-beautiful-things-40d98f7edf2e72f84ba2f12856327c5e. Accessed 6 July 2023.

"Hunter Biden Spotted at WH after Possible Cocaine Found in West Wing." Fox News. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdVVo93c95s. Accessed 6 July 2023.

"Hunter Biden: The Struggles and Scandals of the US President's Son." BBC News, 15 June 2022. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55805698. Accessed 6 July 2023.

Rogers, Katie. "Secret Service Examining How Suspected Cocaine Ended Up at the White House." The New York Times, 4 July 2023. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/04/us/politics/white-house-cocaine-white-substance.html. Accessed 6 July 2023.

Simon, Scott, et al. "Through Decades Of Addiction, Hunter Biden Says His Family Never Gave Up On Him." NPR, 5 Apr. 2021. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2021/04/05/983385027/hunter-biden-says-his-family-never-gave-up-on-him. Accessed 6 July 2023.

"Substance Found in White House Confirmed to Be Cocaine." CBS News. 5 July 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/white-house-cocaine-west-wing-secret-service-investigation/. Accessed 6 July 2023.

"U.S Independence Day 2023 | Independence Day Fireworks Over D.C.'s National Mall | Biden Live." CNN-News18. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EC4Fc76M9A. Accessed 6 July 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.