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House GOP threatens Hunter Biden with contempt if he defies subpoena for closed-door testimony

Hunter Biden made another push Wednesday to testify at a public hearing of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, setting up a showdown with the chairman who has already rejected the offer by insisting on a closed-door deposition to avoid grand-standing by Democratic lawmakers.

The chairman, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., subpoenaed the president’s son to ask whether his overseas business deals were a form of influence peddling, as House Republicans have alleged.

Comer and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, threatened Wednesday to hold Hunter Biden in contempt if he defies the subpoena.

But Hunter Biden has denied wrongdoing and the White House contends the committee has pursued baseless charges to further a misguided impeachment inquiry.

"It's just a bunch of lies," President Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday when asked about meeting with his son's business associates.

The committee’s demand for testimony Dec. 13 has become a showdown between one of the three House panels investigating Hunter Biden and his increasingly aggressive response to those inquiries and criminal investigations.

Hunter Biden on July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del.
Hunter Biden on July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del.

Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's lawyer, sent the committee a letter Wednesday citing a Comer interview Oct. 31 in which he said he could bring in witnesses “for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose.” Comer’s letter accompanying the subpoena anticipated his testimony “before Congress.”

Lowell rejected having Biden testify in a closed-door deposition to avoid having the testimony released in an incomplete way.

“He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public – a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings,” Lowell wrote.

But Comer has already rejected that approach, saying witnesses don’t dictate the terms of their compliance with Congress.

If Biden defies the subpoena, the House could vote to hold him in contempt and recommend criminal prosecution, as happened twice during the Trump administration. But the Justice Department would decide whether to prosecute the president's son, and it rejected two recommendations to prosecute two White House aides during the Trump administration.

"Contrary to the assertions in your letter, there is no 'choice' for Mr. Biden to make; the subpoenas compel him to appear for a deposition on December 13," the two chairmen wrote to Lowell. "If Mr. Biden does not appear for his deposition on December 13, 2023, the Committees will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings."

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee, called the threat of contempt "a joke" after Jordan "blew off" a House subpoena during the investigation of the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021.

"Comer doesn’t want the truth − and can’t handle it," Raskin said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House GOP threatens Hunter Biden with contempt over subpoenaed testimony