House Republicans move toward holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress
WASHINGTON — House Republicans on the Judiciary and Oversight committees are prepared to move forward with a resolution to hold the president’s son Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for defying their subpoena to appear for a closed-door deposition.
In an announcement first shared with NBC News, the Oversight Committee said it will hold a markup on Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. ET to prepare the contempt resolution for a vote in the House at a future date. Before the markup, both committees will release a report outlining their rationale for holding Hunter Biden in contempt.
Hunter Biden’s team and House Republicans are in a showdown over his cooperation with the GOP’s wide-ranging impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The committees’ chairmen, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have said they believe that Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings were the result of influence peddling based on his father’s political status. But Republicans have yet to present any hard evidence that the president personally benefited from his son’s businesses.
The impeachment inquiry, which has been underway for months, was formally approved along partisan lines by the full House of Representatives right before the Congress left for the holiday recess.
And the markup will be held the day before Hunter Biden is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles on the nine federal tax-related charges stemming from a separate special counsel investigation into his finances and other matters. A committee source said the timing was coincidental — Jan. 10 is the first full day the House will be in session this year.
Representatives for Hunter Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committees had subpoenaed Hunter Biden to appear for a closed-door deposition. Instead of agreeing to the terms of the subpoena, Hunter Biden’s legal team responded that he was willing to answer questions but only in a public setting, arguing that he believed that Republicans would selectively leak or misrepresent his testimony. The committee did not agree to those terms and warned that if he did not appear on the scheduled date he would be held in contempt.
Instead of appearing for the deposition, Hunter Biden held a media event in front of the Capitol building where he took no questions, but stated emphatically that his father was not involved in any of his business dealings. “There is no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business because it did not happen,” Hunter Biden said.
Comer and Jordan said in a statement that they have “significant evidence suggesting President Biden knew of, participated in, and benefitted from his family cashing in on the Biden name.”
“We planned to question Hunter Biden about this record of evidence, but he blatantly defied two lawful subpoenas, choosing to read a prepared statement outside of the Capitol instead of appearing for testimony as required,” they said. “Hunter Biden’s willful refusal to comply with our subpoenas constitutes contempt of Congress and warrants referral to the appropriate United States Attorney’s Office for prosecution. We will not provide him with special treatment because of his last name.”
Committee staff have not had any further conversations with the Hunter Biden legal team about his failure to comply with the subpoenas, the committees said.
The move to hold Hunter Biden in contempt comes as House Republicans aggressively kick their impeachment investigation into high gear. In addition to the markup on the contempt resolution, they are also planning to hold a closed-door transcribed interview next week with Georges Bergès, who owns an art gallery in New York City, to discuss his involvement with the selling of Hunter Biden’s art. Bergès has a display of Hunter Biden’s art that is available for purchase at his SoHo gallery and was subpoenaed by the committees after initially refusing to answer a voluntary request to appear. Republicans have suggested that Bergès was selling Hunter Biden’s art to supporters of the president seeking to curry favor, a charge Bergès has denied.
Republicans are also moving closer to scheduling a deposition with Joseph Langston, a business associate and disbarred lawyer who did business with James Biden, the president’s brother. A committee source tells NBC News they are working with Langston’s attorney to schedule a time to appear and where the interview will take place.
James Biden, who was also subpoenaed by the committees, remains an important witness target for the impeachment inquiry. Unlike their interactions with Hunter’s legal team, a House Oversight Committee spokesperson told NBC News that James Biden’s legal team has remained in communication and the panel is hopeful that they can work out an agreement for him to appear.
“We are in communication with James Biden’s attorney about scheduling a time for him to appear,” the spokesperson said.