By Arlette Saenz and Donald Judd, CNN
(CNN) — First lady Dr. Jill Biden offered rare comments on former President Donald Trump and the House Republicans investigating her son Hunter Biden, ramping up her pushback against critics with the 2024 presidential campaign in full swing.
The first lady spoke candidly about how the GOP-led probe into her son, and whether President Joe Biden financially benefited from Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, has been “horrible.”
“I think what they are doing to Hunter is cruel, and I’m really proud of how Hunter has rebuilt his life after addiction,” the first lady said in the interview with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski that aired Thursday. “I love my son and it’s hurt, it’s hurt my grandchildren, and that’s what I’m so concerned about – that it’s affecting their lives as well.”
The comments mark a rare instance of the first lady discussing her son Hunter and his ongoing legal issues. The president’s son will appear in court in California Thursday on federal charges for allegedly failing to pay more than a million dollars in taxes.
He has yet to enter a plea on the charges, but Hunter Biden’s attorney has argued that they amount to nothing more than a political hit job.
His court appearance comes after a pair of Republican-led House committees voted Wednesday evening to approve a report recommending a contempt of Congress resolution against Hunter Biden for his failure to comply with a subpoena, hours after he made a surprise visit to Capitol Hill.
The first lady also took aim at Trump for characterizing jailed January 6, 2021, rioters as “hostages,” saying her husband’s predecessor “doesn’t call them what they were – insurrectionists, dangerous extremists.”
“That makes me want to be in the fight even more – because we have to win, we must win,” she said. “We cannot let go of our democracy.”
The president opened the year with a forceful condemnation of his predecessor’s role in the Capitol insurrection and its aftermath. His campaign has sought to put democracy front and center as they eye a possible matchup with Trump in November.
The first lady has shown a willingness to take on Trump and Republicans in select settings this campaign cycle, beginning with closed-door fundraisers last summer.
“We cannot go back to those dark days,” she said in June. “And with your help we won’t go back.”
Jill Biden has also acted as a fierce defender of her 81-year-old husband and his ability to serve, rebuffing concerns over his age by framing it as an “asset.”
“He’s wise, he has wisdom, he has experience,” she said in the interview. “He knows every leader on the world stage, he’s lived history, he knows history, he’s thoughtful in his decisions. He is the right man or the right person for the job at this moment in history.”
As the campaign expects to make abortion rights a central issue, the first lady, who’s scheduled to join Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry for an event on women’s health in Chicago Thursday, also pledged the administration’s support for women’s reproductive freedom following the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe V. Wade.
“What Joe wants to do is to codify Roe and that’s what we have to do,” she said. “We have to keep fighting.”
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