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Biden investigation tensions rise as Hunter risks contempt charges

By Jake Beardslee · December 6, 2023

In brief…

  • House committees subpoenaed Hunter Biden for private testimony on December 13th
  • Biden's lawyer sent letter refusing private testimony, offers public hearing instead
  • Republican chairmen threaten contempt proceedings if he misses deposition date
  • Conflict highlights rising investigations tensions between GOP House and Bidens
In an escalating oversight showdown, congressional Republicans are threatening contempt charges after Hunter Biden refused their subpoena requiring private testimony about his checkered financial history.  Prime Minister's Office (GODL-India), GODL-India/Wikimedia

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, is risking contempt of Congress charges by refusing to provide private testimony before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, according to a joint letter sent by the Republican chairmen of those committees.

The committees, led by Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), subpoenaed Biden last month to appear for a closed-door deposition on December 13th regarding his previous business dealings. However, Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell sent a letter this week stating that Biden “will only appear for testimony in a public hearing setting.”

Lowell justified the refusal by arguing that “the Committee has demonstrated time and time 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.”

In response, Comer and Jordan wrote that “there is no ‘choice’ for Mr. Biden to make; the subpoenas compel him to appear for a deposition on December 13.” They stated that “If Mr. Biden does not appear for his deposition…the Committees will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings.”

Chairman Comer had previously justified the plan to conduct a confidential deposition first by promising the committee would publicize the full transcript soon afterwards and still commit to convening an open hearing later.

House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) criticized this response, writing sarcastically on X: “Hunter Biden will answer questions under oath in front of the world—but unless he testifies in secret so he can be misquoted, @RepJamesComer will hold him in contempt? What a joke.”