Hunter Biden appears at Capitol, defies subpoena from House Republicans

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

After weeks of back and forth and a threat to hold him in contempt of Congress, Hunter Biden briefly appeared in the Capitol complex on Wednesday, making a public statement outside the building instead of showing for his scheduled deposition following a subpoena from House Republicans.

Hunter Biden railed against the investigation from House Republicans, blasting the probe ahead of a vote to ignite an impeachment inquiry into his father, President Biden.

He said he was at the Capitol to testify in a public setting — bucking investigators’ request for a closed-door deposition.

“For six years, I’ve been the target of the unrelenting Trump attack machine shouting. ‘Where’s Hunter?’” Hunter Biden said in a statement to reporters. “Well, here’s my answer. I am here.”

“Let me state as clearly as I can: My father was not financially involved in my business — Not as a practicing lawyer. Not as a board member of Burisma, not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not my investment at all nor abroad, and certainly not as an artist,” he said, running through a number of key aspects of the GOP probes.

“There’s no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business, because it did not happen,” Biden added.

Defying the subpoena runs the risk Republicans will hold him in contempt of Congress — one that would add to the mounting legal trouble faced by the president’s son.

“We’re going to move forward with contempt proceedings…there’s a process we have to follow but we plan to do that,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and Jordan had moved to compel Hunter Biden’s testimony as they push forward with an impeachment inquiry into his father, President Biden.

“Chairman Jordan and I have been very clear when we issued a lawful subpoena to the president son, that we expect him to come in and be deposed. This is a normal process and investigation,” Comer said on Wednesday.

Jordan reiterated that as well, noting the need to go through information they’ve gleaned from thousands of pages of bank records.

“Every single investigation I’ve been involved in, you bring people in for an interview behind closed doors where you can get those facts, and then as the chairman said, we’d love for him to come [in] public,” he said.

House Democrats, however, defended Hunter Biden’s choice, noting that Comer had previously offered to “drop everything” if the president’s son wanted to testify publicly and accusing the GOP of reneging.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Oversigh Committee, said he was “disappointed” that the panel did not hear from Hunter Biden, something he said could have provided evidence to undercut many of the GOP claims. He also attacked the investigation itself, arguing that Republicans have failed to pinpoint wrongdoing by Biden in an aimless investigation.

“You know, mysteries are called a ‘who done it?’ because it starts with a crime and then you try to determine who committed it. This is more like a what is it? Not a who done it? We don’t know what the crime is,” he said.

“All of the evidence demonstrates, beyond any reasonable doubt, that President Joe Biden is not guilty of any impeachable offense that we can determine.”

Hunter Biden’s appearance in the Capitol complex at all is a milestone in the long Republican scrutiny of his business activities and tumultuous personal life — and comes on the same day that Republicans are set to formally authorize their impeachment inquiry with a House vote.

Jordan pointed to that upcoming vote in his remarks.

“Mr. Biden’s counsel and the White House have both argued that the reason he couldn’t come for a deposition was because there wasn’t a formal vote for an impeachment inquiry. Well, that’s going to happen in a few hours. We think it’s going to pass,” Jordan said.

He added, “And when that happens, we’ll see what their excuse is then.”

Before Wednesday morning, lawmakers were not sure whether Biden would show up to the deposition. His lawyer, Abbe Lowell, had responded to the subpoena with an offer for Hunter Biden to appear before the Oversight panel in a public format, but not a closed-door deposition.

Lowell had charged that Republicans “use closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public,” and to previous public statements from Comer appearing to express support for seeing Biden in a public format.

Republicans dismissed the offer, threatening to hold Biden in contempt of Congress if he did not show up for the deposition.

Comer had offered a public hearing at a later date and said that he would release the transcript from the deposition, but argued that closed-door format with the committee methodically asking questions was necessary before bringing Biden before a public hearing — which would involve five-minute questioning time for members bouncing from Republicans to Democrats.

Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.), a member of the Oversight Committee, said that he left his office to go to the Senate press conference area where Hunter Biden delivered his statement “to escort him, or to remind him, this is where you’re supposed to be.”

The House GOP’s multi-pronged impeachment probe is digging into hotly disputed allegations about whether President Biden improperly benefited from or used policy to benefit the foreign business dealings of family members, as well as allegations that the Department of Justice improperly slow-walked a tax crimes investigation into Hunter Biden. The president and the White House have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said that Biden was not involved in his family’s business dealings.

Biden pushed back on key aspects of the probe and actions by the House Republicans.

“They have lied over and over about every aspect of my personal and professional life, so much so that their lives have become the false facts believed by too many people. No matter how many times it is debunked, they continue to insist that my father’s support of Ukraine against Russia is the result of a non-existent bribe,” he said, referencing long-standing claims first pushed by former President Trump.

“They displayed naked photos of me during an Oversight hearing,” Biden continued, referencing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) displaying explicit photos of him during a hearing over the summer.

“They have taken the light of my dad’s love, light of my dad’s love for me, and presented it dark. They have no case,” Biden said.

The deposition also came at an inopportune time in Hunter Biden’s broader legal troubles, as he was indicted just last week on tax charges that are among the topics congressional investigators wish to discuss, alongside a now-evaporated plea deal that would have had him plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges.

But any comments he makes in the deposition could be used against him in court – adding greater risk to a case where he already faces up to 17 years in prison.

Still, Democrats argued that Hunter Biden was not in the wrong to skip the deposition, accusing Republicans of cherry picking from transcripts and misleading the public about information that undercuts their claims.

“They wanted to conduct the deposition in a closed door interview so the public couldn’t see it and so they could continue to cherry pick little pieces of evidence and distort and misrepresent what had taken place there. And this is a pattern,” Raskin said.

“They talk obsessively about Hunter Biden, who has his own special counsel who’s been appointed to prosecute him. He’s just been brought up on tax charges in California, and we say let the criminal justice process work. Unlike the Republicans, we accept that the justice system could convict the Democrats of crimes.”

Updated at 11:45 a.m.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.