GOP-led committees approve contempt resolution against Hunter Biden, will subpoena him again

The president's son made a surprise appearance at one hearing.

January 14, 2024, 12:05 PM

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said Sunday that they will issue new subpoenas to Hunter Biden for him to appear for a closed deposition -- which he has resisted doing to date, saying he wants to give his testimony in public rather than private.

The newly announced subpoenas follow the Republican-led House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Wednesday voting to approve resolutions recommending President Joe Biden's son be held in contempt of Congress for defying a previous congressional subpoena.

The contempt measure has now advanced to the full House where GOP leadership will bring it to the floor for a formal vote at a later date.

Earlier Wednesday, Hunter Biden made a surprise appearance at a contempt hearing being held by the House Oversight Committee, defiantly walking into the room amid opening statements.

The move sparked outrage from Republicans, who subpoenaed him to sit for a closed-door deposition in their ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Biden. The president's son has said he would testify only in a public forum and previously castigated the probe as "illegitimate."

His arrival plunged the proceeding into chaos.

"You're the epitome of white privilege, coming into the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed. What are you afraid of?" South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace said just after he entered the room. She went on to say the younger Biden should be arrested and go "straight to jail."

PHOTO: Hunter Biden sits with his attorney Abbe Lowell as he makes a surprise appearance at a House Oversight Committee to respond to a request to testify to the House last month, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 10, 2024.
Hunter Biden sits with his attorney Abbe Lowell 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, January 10, 2024.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Mace was interrupted by another lawmaker, Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz, who said they could "hear from Hunter Biden right now" and called for a vote to have him speak.

A heated back and forth between Mace and Moskowitz ensued, with Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs stepping into the fray to criticize his fellow committee members.

"Are we going to continue on with this blatant interruption? This is absurd and inappropriate ... I think you should have decorum and courtesy and don't act like a bunch of nimrods," Biggs said.

Hunter Biden made his way into the hearing amid opening statements and took a seat in the front row. He was accompanied by his lawyer Abbe Lowell and Kevin Morris, a confidant and friend who helped Hunter Biden pay back taxes and penalties to the IRS.

Hunter Biden left a short time after, when the chairman called on Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to speak.

"Excuse me, Hunter, apparently you're afraid of my words," Greene said.

Lowell spoke to the press outside the hearing room, though Hunter Biden ignored shouted questions.

"Hunter Biden was and is a private citizen. Despite this, Republicans have sought to use him as a surrogate to attack his father," Lowell said.

Lowell accused Republicans of caring "little about the truth" and trying to "hold someone in contempt who has offered to publicly answer all their proper questions."

In a letter sent Friday morning to Comer and Jordan, Lowell argued the subpoenas and moves to find Hunter Biden in contempt suffer from "impropriety and legal invalidity."

Hunter Biden departs a House Oversight Committee meeting at Capitol Hill on January 10, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Ahead of Wednesday's hearing, the Oversight Committee released a 19-page report recommending the president's son be held in contempt of Congress, as well as the text of the proposed resolution.

"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," the report stated.

Hunter Biden was subpoenaed to sit for the closed-door interview on Dec. 13 but instead held a defiant news conference just outside the U.S. Capitol.

"I am here to testify at a public hearing, today, to answer any of the committees' legitimate questions," he said. "Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry, or hear what I have to say. What are they afraid of? I am here."

Committee Republicans have countered that they are open to public testimony at an unspecified "future date" but "need not and will not accede to Mr. Biden's demand for special treatment with respect to how he provides testimony."

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden talks to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol, Dec.13, 2023 in Washington.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Comer, in his opening statement on Wednesday, said Hunter Biden's refusal to comply with their subpoena is a "criminal act."

"We will not provide Hunter Biden special treatment because of his last name. All Americans must be treated equally under the law, and that includes the Bidens," Comer said.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the panel's top Democrat, responded that they believe "everyone subpoenaed by Congress whether it's Hunter Biden or Jim Jordan or Andy Biggs or Steve Bannon or Scott Perry should engage in good-faith compliance with the committee's requests." Jordan, Biggs and Perry previously defied subpoenas from the House Jan. 6 committee to provide testimony.

Raskin also criticized Comer directly for not allowing Hunter Biden to testify in a public forum after extending such invitations for him to do so in various news interviews. Raskin read quotes from the interviews Comer did throughout the fall on the subject.

"The chairman refused to take yes for an answer from Hunter Biden," Raskin said in his opening statement.

The Biden impeachment inquiry, launched unilaterally by now-ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy and then formalized months later by the House in a party-line vote, has yet to yield any concrete evidence to support GOP claims that Joe Biden participated in and profited from his son and family's foreign business dealings.

The House Oversight Committee report recommending a contempt charge stated Hunter Biden's testimony is "necessary" to determine whether there are "sufficient grounds" for impeachment.

The committee has also subpoenaed President Biden's brother James Biden and former Hunter Biden business associate Rob Walker. It also requested transcribed interviews with other members of the Biden family and Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden.

ABC News' Mike Levine and Selina Wang contributed to this report.

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