Hunter Biden agrees to deposition, GOP chairs say contempt bid on track until date set

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Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, is seen as he makes a surprise appearance at a House Oversight Committee markup and meeting to vote on whether to hold Biden in contempt of Congress for failing to respond to a request to testify to the House last month, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2024.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

An attorney for Hunter Biden told two House Republican committee chairmen on Friday that he will comply with subpoenas demanding his deposition if they issue a new one — a reversal of his prior demand that such testimony be given at a public hearing.

The chairmen later said that they would work with Biden to schedule a date for a private deposition as part of an ongoing impeachment probe of his father, President Joe Biden.

But until Hunter Biden confirms that date, they will move ahead with a plan to have the full House of Representatives vote late next week on a resolution holding him in contempt of Congress for defying prior subpoenas demanding his closed-door testimony.

“We will not tolerate any additional stunts or delay from Hunter Biden,” said House Oversight Chair James Comer, R-Ky., and Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in a joint statement.

“The American people will not tolerate, and the House will not provide, special treatment for the Biden family.”

Hunter Biden’s surprising offer to appear for a private deposition came two days after Comer and Jordan’s panels passed resolutions urging the House to hold him in contempt.

Biden showed up at the Oversight Committee panel hours before the vote, silently staring down GOP lawmakers.

If Biden were to be found in contempt, the Department of Justice would consider whether to prosecute him for failing to comply with the prior subpoenas.

In his letter Friday, Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell told Comer and Jordan those subpoenas were legally invalid.

But, “If you issue a new proper subpoena, now that there is a duly authorized impeachment inquiry, Mr. Biden will comply for a hearing or deposition,” Lowell wrote.

“We will accept such a subpoena on Mr. Biden’s behalf.”

Lowell’s offer came at the end of an eight-page letter criticizing the chairman for passing contempt resolutions despite Biden’s insistence that he was willing to testify in public.

“You proceeded with a contempt process, erroneously claiming Mr. Biden was seeking ‘special treatment,’ despite Mr. Comer’s repeated and public statements about witnesses’ and Mr. Biden’s ability to testify at a deposition or hearing at their choice,” Lowell wrote.

Lowell has argued that a public hearing would prevent Republicans from taking Biden’s testimony in private only to later distort or mischaracterize what he said in statements to the media or elsewhere.

The attorney told Comer and Jordan that he was writing the letter to “make you aware … that your subpoenas were and are legally invalid and cannot form a legal basis to proceed with your misdirected and impermissible contempt resolution.”

The impeachment probe centers on allegations that Joe Biden’s family members, with the Democratic president’s involvement, were corruptly exploiting his political status and power for personal financial gain.

The Bidens and the White House have rejected any suggestion of “influence peddling” and have denied wrongdoing.

Hunter Biden is currently facing criminal charges in two federal courts.

On Thursday, he pleaded not guilty in U.S. district court in Los Angeles to nine criminal counts related to his failure to pay his income taxes on time. The judge in that case tentatively scheduled the trial to begin on June 20.

Biden previously pleaded not guilty in Delaware federal court to charges related to having a handgun while being a drug user.