Hunter Biden defies a GOP congressional subpoena


By Farnoush Amiri

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden on Wednesday defied a congressional subpoena to appear privately for a deposition before Republican investigators who have been digging into his business dealings. He insisted he would only testify in public.

The Democratic president’s son slammed the GOP-issued subpoena for the closed-door testimony, arguing that information from those interviews can be selectively leaked and manipulated.

“Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry, or hear what I have to say,” Biden said outside the Capitol in a rare public statement. “What are they afraid of? I am here.”

GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, has said Republicans expect “full cooperation” with the private deposition. Comer and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who leads the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters later Wednesday that they will begin looking at contempt of Congress proceedings in response to Hunter Biden’s lack of cooperation.

“He just got into more trouble today,” Comer said.

For months, Republicans have pursued an impeachment inquiry seeking to tie President Joe Biden to his son’s business dealings. So far, GOP lawmakers have failed to uncover evidence directly implicating the elder Biden in any wrongdoing.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president was familiar with what his son would say. “I think that what you saw was from the heart, from his son,” she said. “They are proud of their son.”

Democrats have been united against the Republican impeachment push, saying it’s “an illegitimate exercise” merely meant to distract from GOP chaos and dysfunction.

“We are at a remarkable juncture for the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee. “Because this is an impeachment inquiry where no one has been able to define what criminal or constitutional offense they’re looking for.”

But questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business, and lawmakers insist their evidence paints a troubling picture of “influence peddling” in their business dealings, particularly with clients overseas.

“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.

The White House has chalked up the whole process as a “partisan smear campaign” that Republicans are pushing ahead with “despite the fact that members of their own party have admitted there is no evidence to support impeaching President Biden.”

While Republicans have maintained that their impeachment inquiry is ultimately focused on the president himself, they have taken particular interest in Hunter Biden and his overseas business dealings, from which they accuse the president of personally benefiting. Republicans have also focused a large part of their investigation on whistleblower allegations of interference in the long-running Justice Department investigation into the younger Biden’s taxes and his gun use.

Hunter Biden is currently facing criminal charges in two states from the special counsel investigation. He’s charged with firearm counts in Delaware, alleging he broke laws against drug users having guns in 2018, a period when he has acknowledged struggling with addiction. Special counsel David Weiss filed additional charges last week, alleging he failed to pay about $1.4 million in taxes over a three-year period.

Later Wednesday, the House authorized the impeachment inquiry. House Republicans hoped a vote to formalize their investigation would help their legal standing when enforcing subpoenas to Hunter Biden and other Biden family members.

“Mr. Biden’s counsel and the White House have both argued that the reason he couldn’t come for a deposition was because there wasn’t a formal vote for an impeachment inquiry,” Jordan told reporters. “Well, that’s going to happen in a few hours.”

He added, “And when that happens, we’ll see what their excuse is then.”

Democrats and the White House have defended the president and his administration’s cooperation with the investigation thus far, saying it has already made dozens of witnesses and a massive trove of documents available.

Congressional investigators have obtained nearly 40,000 pages of subpoenaed bank records, dozens of hours of testimony from key witnesses, including several high-ranking Justice Department officials currently tasked with investigating Hunter Biden.

One of those Justice Department officials, Lesley Wolf, the assistant U.S. attorney for Delaware, is expected to arrive for a private deposition with lawmakers on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, who was granted anonymity to discuss details that had not yet been made public.

Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst and Colleen Long contributed to this report.

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