President Biden publicly acknowledged his 4-year-old granddaughter, Navy Joan Roberts, for the first time on Friday, saying in a statement that he and the first lady, Jill Biden, “only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy.”
The statement came weeks after a lengthy child support case was settled between the president’s son, Hunter Biden, and the child’s mother, Lunden Roberts, who told The New York Times earlier this month that she and Hunter “want what is best for our daughter, and that is our only focus.”
President Biden had been under increasing pressure from critics who said that failing to acknowledge Navy publicly went against the image of a loving patriarch that he has nurtured since the beginning of his political career. In recent weeks, the president told his son that he wants to meet Navy when the time is right, according to a person familiar with those discussions who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Hunter Biden, who is recovering from a crack cocaine addiction, has said in the past that he fathered Navy at a low point in his life and that he did not have a relationship with her.
In his statement, President Biden said that his son and Ms. Roberts were working to repair a relationship that had devolved quickly after Navy’s birth and, in recent months, had become grist for conservative media.
“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,” Mr. Biden told People magazine in a statement.
“This is not a political issue, it’s a family matter,” Mr. Biden continued. “Jill and I only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy.”
Hunter Biden has four other children. The eldest, Naomi Biden, married on the South Lawn of the White House last fall. The youngest, who is named for Hunter’s brother, Beau Biden, is 3 years old and is photographed frequently with his grandparents.
The White House had no comment on whether or when the president intends to meet Navy Joan Roberts, who lives in Arkansas. Ms. Roberts and her attorney, Clint Lancaster, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.
A person familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private matter, said that the Bidens had been following Hunter’s lead on how to proceed. In strategy meetings in recent years, aides have been told that the Bidens have six, not seven, grandchildren, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
In April, the president told a group of children that he had six grandchildren. “And I’m crazy about them. And I speak to them every single day. Not a joke,” he said.
The person familiar with the situation said that Mr. Biden would say that he had seven grandchildren going forward.
In earlier interviews, Ms. Roberts had said Navy was proud of the paternal side of her family.
“She’s very proud of who her grandfather is and who her dad is,” Ms. Roberts said. “That is something that I would never allow her to think otherwise.”
Ms. Roberts, 32, and Hunter Biden, 53, ended a yearslong court battle over child support in June, agreeing that Mr. Biden, who has embarked on a second career as a painter, would turn over a number of his paintings to his daughter in addition to providing a monthly support payment.
Before that settlement, Mr. Biden had paid Ms. Roberts upward of $750,000, according to his attorneys, and had sought to reduce his $20,000-a-month child support payment on the grounds that he did not have the money. The new amount is lower than what had been originally ordered by the court, according to a person familiar with the case.
Navy will select the paintings from her father, according to court documents.
Katie Rogers is a White House correspondent, covering life in the Biden administration, Washington culture and domestic policy. She joined The Times in 2014. More about Katie Rogers
Michael S. Schmidt is a Washington correspondent covering national security and federal investigations. He was part of two teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 2018 — one for reporting on workplace sexual harassment and the other for coverage of President Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia. More about Michael S. Schmidt
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