Hunter Biden still pushing for public testimony as House subpoena deadline looms

Hunter Biden walks with wife Melissa Cohen as they visit shops with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden in Nantucket, Mass., 24 November 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Hunter Biden walks with wife Melissa Cohen as they visit shops with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden in Nantucket, Mass., 24 November 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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President Biden’s son Hunter Biden is again pushing to give evidence before the House Oversight Committee in a public hearing to avoid having his testimony selectively leaked or misrepresented by Republican committee members.

In a letter to the panel’s chair, Representative James Comer, Mr Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell said Mr Comer, who last week claimed that witnesses before his committee did not have a choice to give public testimony during a first appearance, had actually offered Mr Biden the choice of an open hearing during a 31 October appearance on a podcast hosted by right-wing personality Benny Johnson.

Mr Lowell noted that Mr Comer had told Johnson that witnesses before his committee can be brought in for “depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose,” and that he’d also said on 13 September that Mr Biden was “more than welcome to come in front of the committee”.

He then reiterated that Mr Biden is willing to appear on the 13 December date laid out in an October subpoena for his testimony “to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter”.

“He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings,” Mr Lowell added.

The missive from Hunter Biden’s attorney comes as House Speaker Mike Johnson prepares to ask the lower chamber to vote on whether to formally authorise an impeachment inquiry into his father.

A vote in favour of the inquiry would give further constitutional weight to subpoenas issued to the executive branch since September, when then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he was directing Mr Comer’s panel to begin an impeachment probe in what was seen at the time as a last-ditch effort to curry favour with right-wing members of his caucus who would eventually vote to remove him.

Republicans have complained that Biden administration officials have “stonewalled” their probe even as Mr Comer has continuously released misleading or false information meant to imply that the 46th president improperly benefited from his son’s overseas business ventures.

In one recent embarrassing episode, Mr Comer claimed that a series of payments from the business entity Hunter Biden maintained for legal work he did as an attorney amounted to the president receiving benefits from his son’s ventures.

But the New York Post had reported months earlier that the same payments referenced by Mr Comer were in fact repayments Hunter Biden paid to Joe Biden, who’d previously assisted him by making payments for an automobile loan while Hunter Biden was unable to make the payments.

Moreover, Hunter Biden’s attorneys have pointed out that the three monthly $1,380 payments were a loan for a truck that he was not able to finance himself — and that the repayments took place during the period when Joe Biden was a private citizen, between when he left the vice presidency in 2017 and when he was sworn in as president in January 2021.