Hunter Biden’s lawyer used to work for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner

Abbe Lowell
Abbe Lowell's decision to work for the Trump family shocked some of his colleagues - Mario Tama/Getty Images

Defending the child of a sitting president would be a daunting task for any lawyer.

But for Abbe Lowell, the man entrusted with the defence of Hunter Biden, this week’s case will not be his first time.

Back in 2017, the Democrat-aligned superstar trial lawyer was taken on by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the daughter and son-in-law of Donald Trump, as allegations mounted over the Trump family’s links to Russia.

As Robert Mueller, the former FBI director, prepared his Russia Report – the biggest political circus of Donald Trump’s first presidency – those around him started to lawyer up.

For Ms Trump and her husband, the man known for his intimate and diverse knowledge of Washington Democrat politics, the Trump White House and the Department of Justice was the perfect man to consult.

Over the years Mr Lowell’s clients have included some House Democrats during the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, the scandal-hit senator Bob Menendez, and Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a state department contractor who leaked US government information about a North Korean nuclear missile test.

Mr Lowell has made his name in legal circles defending political figures accused of headline-grabbing crimes, but his decision to represent Ms Trump and Mr Kushner in 2017 was shocking to some of his Democrat friends in Congress.

The lawyer first moved to Washington shortly after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1977 and worked as a special assistant to the attorney general under Jimmy Carter’s administration.

Hunter Biden with Mr Lowell
Hunter Biden with Mr Lowell, who must try to protect the reputation of his client's father - J Scott Applewhite/AP

In 1982 he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in state elections in Maryland.

By 1998 Mr Lowell had become entrenched in Mr Clinton’s Democratic party. He was appointed as a chief minority counsel to Democrat representatives during his impeachment over the Lewinsky scandal.

After a handful more political clients over the next two decades, he made inroads into the Trump White House. He secured a job offering ethics advice to Ms Trump and represented Mr Kushner as he faced a congressional probe into his use of WhatsApp to communicate with foreign leaders.

After Joe Biden won the 2020 election Mr Lowell fell back into the orbit of the Democrat White House. He was recommended by Hunter Biden’s advisers as a man who would “respond in kind” to Republican attacks, according to The New York Times.

He now finds himself at the centre of the second-biggest legal battle of the 2024 election campaign, as the president’s son defends himself against allegations of lying on a federal gun control form and evading tax.

The charges were originally subject to a plea deal that would have avoided an embarrassing trial. After it collapsed in July 2023, Mr Biden Jr’s team suggested that the fearsome white collar lawyer should be at his side.

Despite his colourful trial history, Mr Lowell’s latest case with Hunter Biden has the potential to be the most explosive.

This week he will defend the former lawyer as prosecutors present lurid evidence of his alleged crack cocaine usage at the same time as he bought a gun in October 2018.

Son unfairly targeted

The federal prosecution team, led by David Weiss, has already released a series of text messages in which Mr Biden Jr refers to “smoking crack” and an extract from his book in which he discusses procuring drugs as his “superpower”.

The defence, to be presented by Mr Lowell, will argue that the president’s son has been unfairly targeted by the Department of Justice because of his high-profile family.

“If Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought,” Mr Lowell said in December 2023 after his client was indicted in the tax case.

As the jury was selected for the gun trial on Monday Jill Biden, his stepmother, accompanied him into the court.

Mr Lowell is in the precarious position of defending a client whose main concern is not his own reputation, but that of his father.

With Republicans braying from the sidelines, his trademark robustness in the courtroom will make for interesting viewing.

The trial continues.