President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted a state dinner on Wednesday evening at the White House for visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon. Though the guest list included around 325 people, unlike past White House events, it was a far more subdued affair – with almost no A-listers from Hollywood in attendance.
Though it was held in an elaborate tent erected on the South Lawn, it was also a more subdued event, given the ongoing fighting in Gaza.
Powerhouse producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and actor John Leguizamo, who are each advising Biden’s reelection campaign, were the only notable celebrities to attend. Leguizamo has said he’ll be hitting the campaign trail with Biden and help the president maintain support from the crucial Latino voting bloc.
A number of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle attended, as well as many of Biden’s family, with one notable exception – troubled son Hunter Biden was not on the guest list.
Hunter Biden: Avoiding the Spotlight
The younger Biden had been present at two other White House state dinners and subsequently received backlash. GOP lawmakers called his attendance inappropriate given his ongoing legal troubles.
In July, Hunter Biden attended the White House state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, just days after agreeing to plead guilty to tax-related misdemeanors. That deal subsequently fell apart, and the president’s son is now facing felony charges related to his lying on a form to purchase a firearm.
Also in attendance at the July state dinner was Attorney General Merrick Garland, as well as several prominent Republican leaders who at the time had vowed to continue their efforts to investigate Hunter Biden and the Biden family.
Hunter Biden’s legal woes have only worsened.
After his deal fell apart, the younger Biden pled not guilty to multiple charges in federal court, including making a false statement in the purchase of a firearm, making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federal firearms licensed dealer, and one count of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.
According to Fox News, with all counts combined, the total maximum prison time for the charges could be up to 25 years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.
No B-52s at the State Dinner
The White House state dinner was truly a muted affair as its original plan to have the New Wave band The B-52s perform was scrapped earlier in the week due to the war in Gaza. No doubt, some aides of the president probably realized having a band named after America’s long-range bomber play their hits while actual bombs are falling on Gaza wouldn’t be received well.
First Lady Jill Biden announced on Tuesday that the B-52s would attend the dinner as guests instead.
“While we had initially planned for the legendary B-52s to perform their iconic dance and party music, we are now in a time when so many are facing sorrow and pain,” the first lady explained.
Instead, a U.S. military band performed instrumental tunes.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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