By JOSH LEDERMAN and ROBERT BURNS
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden, the youngest son of Vice President Joe Biden, has been kicked out of the military after testing positive for cocaine, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The Navy said that Biden, a former lobbyist who works at a private equity firm, was discharged in February — barely a year after he was selected for the part-time position as a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve. Citing privacy laws, the Navy did not give a reason for the discharge, which was not disclosed until it emerged in the media on Thursday.
In a statement released by his attorney, Biden said he respected the Navy’s decision and was moving forward with his family’s love and support. He did not give a reason for his discharge.
“It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy,” Biden said. “I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge.”
The vice president’s office declined to comment. Hunter Biden’s attorney didn’t respond to inquiries about whether Biden had used cocaine.
Two people familiar with the situation said Biden, 44, was discharged because he failed a drug test last year. They weren’t authorized to discuss the incident by name and requested anonymity. The Wall Street Journal first reported Biden’s discharge and failed drug test.
An attorney by training, Biden applied to join the Navy Reserve as a public affairs officer and was selected in 2012 — one of seven candidates recommended for a direct commission for public affairs. A board of senior Navy officers interviewed Biden before making the recommendation.
Because he was 42 at the time, he needed a special waiver to be accepted. Cmdr. Ryan Perry, a spokesman for the Navy, said Biden had been assigned to the Navy Public Affairs Support Element East, based in Norfolk, Virginia.
The terms of Biden’s separation from the Navy were unclear. Typically, military members discharged for failing drug tests don’t receive an honorable discharge.
The vice president speaks about his children frequently during public appearances. In December, Hunter Biden and one of his daughters accompanied the elder Biden on a trip to Asia, where the vice president praised his son’s work around the world as the chairman of the World Food Program USA.
“I’m so incredibly proud of him,” Vice President Biden said.
Earlier this year, Hunter Biden raised eyebrows when he joined the board of a private Ukrainian gas company, just as his father and the Obama administration were working to wean Ukraine off Russian energy. At the time, the vice president’s office brushed aside questions about the arrangement by saying that the younger Biden was a “private citizen.”
Biden, a managing partner at investment firm Rosemont Seneca Partners, has three children. His older brother, Beau Biden, is Delaware’s attorney general and an Army National Guard member who served a yearlong deployment in Iraq.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.