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Hunter Biden agrees to testify at panel hearing, but not closed-door deposition

A letter from the president’s son to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee’s chairman sets up a clash with House GOP leaders

Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, conducts a May news conference on the investigation into the Biden family's “influence peddling to enrich themselves."
Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, conducts a May news conference on the investigation into the Biden family's “influence peddling to enrich themselves." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An attorney for Hunter Biden told a House panel Tuesday that the president’s son is willing to testify at a public hearing, setting up a clash with Republicans who demand he also sit for a closed-door deposition.

House Republicans subpoenaed Hunter Biden earlier this month and instructed him to appear for a deposition on Dec. 13 as part of an investigation into GOP allegations that the younger Biden was involved in a web tying the Biden family to foreign money.

In a letter, Hunter’s attorney Abbe David Lowell argued that House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James R. Comer, R-Ky., has used closed-door sessions “to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public.”

“Our client will get right to it by agreeing to answer any pertinent and relevant question you or your colleagues might have, but — rather than subscribing to your cloaked, one-sided process — he will appear at a public Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing,” Lowell wrote in the letter.

Lowell wrote that such a public proceeding would “prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements.”

“Your empty investigation has gone on too long wasting too many better-used resources. It should come to an end,” Lowell said.

Comer quickly hit back at the letter Tuesday morning, saying the younger Biden was trying to play by his own rules, “instead of following the rules required of everyone else.” He noted that the subpoena issued to the younger Biden commanded him to appear for a deposition on Dec. 13.

“We expect full cooperation with our subpoena for a deposition but also agree that Hunter Biden should have the opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date,” Comer added in the statement, which was posted on social media.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is spearheading the probe into President Joe Biden with Comer and Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., also responded that the deposition was required.

“We are glad that Hunter Biden has decided to cooperate and we look forward to hearing from him in a deposition on December 13 and subsequently at a public hearing,” Jordan posted on social media.

Jordan was among Republican lawmakers who did not comply with a subpoena from the now-disbanded House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The back-and-forth over the terms of Hunter Biden’s cooperation reflects the partisan divide over House Republicans’ efforts to investigate Hunter Biden and move forward on an impeachment probe.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Oversight Committee’s ranking member, and other Democrats have roundly rejected those efforts and say Republicans lack evidence. Raskin released a statement about Hunter Biden’s offer that said after 10 months of talk, Republicans “now reject his offer to appear before the full Committee and the eyes of the world and to answer any questions that they pose?”

“What an epic humiliation for our colleagues and what a frank confession that they are simply not interested in the facts and have no confidence in their own case or the ability of their own Members to pursue it,” Raskin said.

Any public testimony would set up a high-profile clash between Republican lawmakers and Hunter Biden, who is a lightning rod of conservative criticism and a character central to the Republican-led impeachment investigation.

Appearing before the committee would fall in the backdrop of a sensitive legal landscape for the younger Biden: He faces federal firearm charges and is still the subject of a Justice Department special counsel investigation. On the political front, a poor performance in front of TV cameras could bring collateral damage to President Biden’s reelection campaign.

The basis for the Republican-led impeachment probe in part involves an accusation that Hunter Biden was selling the illusion of access to his father and would look to leverage his family’s “brand.” The probe also involves arguments that the younger Biden received lenient treatment from the Justice Department in the criminal investigation against him.

Some Republican messaging about the impeachment inquiry has included misleading statements and currently unproven allegations about President Biden.

For example, a Republican memorandum states that President Biden’s family “is the vehicle to receive bribery payments.” No definitive evidence has been made public yet that President Biden took a bribe.

During the first hearing in September on the high-profile probe, two legal scholars told lawmakers that there’s not yet enough evidence to justify an impeachment of President Biden.

Lowell, the attorney for the younger Biden, also slammed the oversight investigations from Comer this Congress.

“You have manipulated Hunter’s legitimate business dealings and his times of terrible addiction into a politically motivated basis for hearings to accuse his father of some wrongdoing,” Lowell wrote.

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