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Hunter Biden makes surprise visit to Capitol Hill as GOP takes a first step to hold him in contempt

Jan 9, 2024, 9:39 PM | Updated: Jan 10, 2024, 8:28 am

FILE - Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, speaks during a news conference outside the Capito...

FILE - Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, speaks during a news conference outside the Capitol, Dec. 13, 2023, in Washington. Republicans are taking the first step toward holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden made a surprise visit to a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, stirring a political frenzy as Republicans were taking the first step toward holding President Joe Biden’s son in contempt of Congress for defying a congressional subpoena.

The arrival of the president’s son at the Oversight Committee, sitting in the audience with his legal team, including attorney Abbe Lowell, sent the panel that is working to impeach President Biden into chaos.

One Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, insisted that Hunter Biden be quickly arrested. GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia called him a coward as he left during her remarks. Democratic lawmakers argued that Biden, who has refused to testify to the panel behind closed doors, should be allowed to speak publicly.

Hunter Biden has defended his lack of compliance with the GOP-issued subpoena, which ordered him to appear for closed-door testimony in mid-December. Biden and his attorneys said information from private interviews can be selectively leaked and manipulated by House Republicans and insisted that he would only testify in public

On Wednesday, Committee Chairman James Comer struggled to regain control. “Mr. Biden doesn’t make the rules, we make the rules,” he said.

The House Oversight and Judiciary committees will each vote on contempt resolutions that seem likely to result in the U.S. House recommending criminal charges as Republicans move into the final stages of their impeachment inquiry into the president himself.

It’s the latest step for the inquiry, which began in September, but has so far failed to uncover evidence directly implicating the president in wrongdoing involving his son’s business dealings.

If the committees approve the contempt resolutions as expected, they will go to the full House for consideration. And if the House votes to hold Hunter Biden in contempt, it will be up to the Department of Justice to decide whether to prosecute.

The contempt referral would be yet another headache for federal prosecutors already under heavy scrutiny for their handling of charges against Hunter Biden related to his taxes and gun use.

Shelving the contempt of Congress charges would likely further stoke conservative criticism that the Justice Department is politicized — especially given that two one-time advisers to former President Donald Trump were prosecuted for contempt of Congress by the Biden administration. But prosecuting contempt cases can be difficult.

“It’s clear the Republican chairmen aren’t interested in getting the facts or they would allow Hunter to testify publicly,” Hunter Biden’s attorney, Lowell, said in a statement Friday. “Instead, House Republicans continue to play politics by seeking an unprecedented contempt motion against someone who has from the first request offered to answer all their proper questions.”

He added, “What are they afraid of?”

Further angering Republicans, Hunter Biden did come to the Capitol on the day specified by the subpoena — but not to testify. Instead, he stood behind microphones outside the U.S. Capitol complex — a couple hundred feet away from the awaiting GOP investigators — and delivered a rare public statement defending his business affairs and castigating the yearslong investigations into him and his family.

“There is no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business because it did not happen,” the president’s son said in those remarks.

He added, “There is no fairness or decency in what these Republicans are doing — they have lied over and over about every aspect of my personal and professional life — so much so that their lies have become the false facts believed by too many people.

After delivering the statement to the media, Hunter Biden left the Capitol grounds.

The contempt resolution, released by Republicans on Monday, reads, “Mr. Biden’s flagrant defiance of the Committees’ deposition subpoenas — while choosing to appear nearby on the Capitol grounds to read a prepared statement on the same matters — is contemptuous, and he must be held accountable for his unlawful actions.”

While Republicans say their inquiry is ultimately focused on the president, they have taken particular interest in Hunter Biden and his overseas business dealings, questioning whether the president profited from that work.

Republicans have also focused a large part of their investigation on whistleblower allegations that there has been political interference in the long-running Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden.

The committees’ votes Wednesday on contempt of Congress come a day before Hunter Biden is scheduled to make his first court appearance on tax charges filed by a special counsel in Los Angeles. He is facing three felony and six misdemeanor counts, including filing a false return, tax evasion, failure to file and failure to pay.

His lawyer has accused David Weiss, the special counsel overseeing the yearslong case, of “bowing to Republican pressure” by bringing the charges.

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Hunter Biden makes surprise visit to Capitol Hill as GOP takes a first step to hold him in contempt