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The SA connection to the White House

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The Cohen family in Johannesburg has been inundated with media calls from around the world intrigued by United States (US) President-elect Joe Biden’s South African-born and raised daughter-in-law Melissa Cohen, and her baby boy, Beau Biden.

There were gasps of adoration from the jubilant crowd in Wilmington, Delaware, as the US president elect thanked the nation in his victory speech and held onto his Jewish grandson, Beau, while mom Melissa, 34, stood close by.

Baby Beau, who was born and a had a brit milah in March, stole American hearts on Sunday night with his wide-eyed innocence and wispy blond hair, just like his mother’s.

Unused to the limelight and media hype, the Cohen family has declined to comment under strict instructions from the Biden campaign not to speak to the media, which has been clamouring to get any tiny snippet of information.

Insiders said Melissa Cohen, who married Joe Biden’s 50-year-old son, Hunter Biden, within a week of meeting him, had been in regular contact with her close-knit family throughout the intense elections.

The couple named their son Beau after Hunter Biden’s brother who passed away from brain cancer in 2015.

Melissa’s parents, Zoe and Lee Cohen, have yet to hold their adorable grandson because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. The Cohens however travelled to Los Angeles last December to meet their son-in-law and their famous machetunim (in-laws).

Melissa’s brother, Garyn, told the SA Jewish Report, “I’ve had calls from so many tabloids, and we are telling them the same thing. Sorry!”

After speaking to his sister last week, he told the SA Jewish Report, “She said it’s a very sensitive and fragile period. She asked to respect her silence at the moment.”

Melissa is Hunter’s second wife, and baby Beau is his fifth child.

In October, Hunter told ABC News the couple met through a friend of Melissa’s, who jotted Melissa’s phone number onto his hand and insisted he call her.

Hunter got a “shalom” tattoo in Hebrew on his bicep to match Melissa’s within days of meeting her, and they were married at her Los Angeles apartment less than a week later. Neither had their families in attendance, and the wedding photos were taken by a friend on a cell phone.

Hunter told ABC that he levelled with her about his messy past, including the tragic deaths of his mother, sister, and brother, decades of struggling with addiction, and a turbulent divorce, adding, “I instantly fell in love with her. And then I’ve fallen in love with her more every day.”

Joe Biden reportedly thanked Melissa for “giving my son the courage to love again”.

Hunter was married for 24 years to Kathleen Biden, with whom he has three grown daughters.

After the couple split in 2015, Hunter dated Hallie Biden, the widow of his elder brother, Beau, a former Delaware attorney general. They broke up in early 2019, and he married Melissa in May 2019. In November last year, DNA results confirmed that Hunter had fathered a child with a different woman while dating Hallie. While he dismissed the claims by the child’s mother, Lunden Roberts, he now accepts the child is his.

The scandal-plagued middle child of Joe Biden recently found himself at the centre of a dubious New York Post article based on purported juicy emails and photos found on a laptop sent to the outlet by Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney. Hunter was mentioned by Trump in the first presidential debate for his business dealings, including his connections with Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings and profiting in China while his father was vice-president. In spite of being cleared of wrongdoing, Hunter’s entanglement in the administration’s contact with Ukraine proved to be controversial.

Melissa Cohen, who matriculated from King David Victory Park, has stood by her husband throughout the controversies and media scrutiny.

The couple are said to be smitten with their baby and who knows, it might not be long before baby Beau finds himself playing on the rolling lawns of the White House.

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