He made a quick, unexpected appearance as Republicans gathered to authorise a contempt citation against President Biden’s son for refusing to appear for a private deposition in their impeachment investigation against his father.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee were about to vote to hold President Biden in contempt of Congress for refusing to appear for a private deposition when the president’s son, Hunter Biden, unexpectedly made a brief appearance in the hearing chamber on Wednesday morning.
Chaos broke out in the proceedings when the younger Mr. Biden arrived. He has repeatedly offered to testify in public in the impeachment investigation targeting President Biden, but he has refused to be interrogated behind closed doors. Democrats and Republicans were at odds about whether to let him be heard.
The discussion highlighted the intense polarisation that is fueling the impeachment probe, pitting some of the former president Donald J. Trump’s most ardent followers against the son of his successor and main political foe.
Democrats on the panel begged the Republicans in charge of it to allow Mr. Biden to testify immediately, but GOP legislators demanded he take a deposition behind closed doors as required by their subpoena.
He and his entourage departed the chamber minutes after entering, prompting Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, to call the younger Mr. Biden a “coward.”
Hunter Biden is afraid of strong conservative Republican women because he can’t even handle what I have to say’, stated Ms Greene, who earlier in the committee hearing had shown pictures of Mr Biden in his pants.
California Democrat Representative Robert Garcia referred to her behaviour as “shameful” and maintained that Mr. Biden had good reason to leave while she was speaking.
He continued, “She is the one who brought up pictures of Hunter Biden in her pants in this committee room.”
With the demonstration that he was willing to testify in public, the younger Mr. Biden attempted to undermine the Republicans’ argument that he has not complied with their subpoena. Although he did not speak to the panel on Wednesday, he has previously stated that he is not interested in doing interviews.
Hunter Biden is accused of tax offences pertaining to his foreign business ventures and is currently under federal prosecution. Republicans are searching for proof that his father improperly participated in his international business affairs and are assembling evidence to accuse the president of corruption and bribery, but they have not yet found any.
Mr. Biden acknowledged his personal shortcomings, which are detailed in shocking detail in the indictment against him, at a news conference on Capitol Hill on the day Republicans hoped to remove him from office last month. However, he insisted that his father had no financial stake in his company and that his personal failings had nothing to do with his father.
Republicans were incensed at Mr. Biden’s appearance; one, South Carolina Representative Nancy Mace, called for his immediate arrest and imprisonment.
Ms. Mace addressed Mr. Biden, who was seated in the audience, saying, “You are the epitome of white privilege, coming into the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed.” “What fear do you harbour? You’re devoid of balls.
“If the woman wants to hear from Hunter Biden, we can talk to him right now,” Florida Democrat Representative Jared Moskowitz said.
With its action on Wednesday, the Oversight Committee ordered the entire House to take up the contempt charge, which claims that Mr. Biden ignored its subpoena. If the House accepted the charge, the Justice Department would determine whether to bring a criminal case against him.
Representative James R. Comer, a Republican from Kentucky who is chairing the committee, declared, “We will not give Hunter Biden special treatment because of his last name.”
Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, accused Republicans of carrying out a “political crusade” that including selective leaks as he was leaving the building and outside the committee chamber. He stated that Mr. Biden has made at least six offers to give a public statement.
Mr. Lowell addressed the mass of reporters that had gathered around him and Mr. Biden, saying, “The Republican chairs today then are commandeering an unprecedented resolution to hold someone in contempt who has offered to publicly answer all their proper questions.” The inquiry at hand is, “What fears do they harbour?”
Mr. Biden spoke to reporters in brief, answering once to a query about why he had placed his father’s phone on speakerphone while he spoke with business associates.
“Do you have a father?” he inquired. Does he give you a call? Do you pick up the phone?
On December 13, the younger Mr. Biden made an appearance on Capitol Hill to offer to testify in public in the impeachment probe. However, he firmly stated that he would not take part in a secret deposition that House Republicans had arranged because of his refusals.
The Republicans declared they would not accept that offer since it did not meet their demands, as outlined in their subpoena.
Hunter Biden stated at the time, “Let me state as clearly as I can.” “My father had no financial involvement in any of my business endeavors—not as an artist, not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not in my joint venture with a Chinese private businessman, nor in my investments domestically or overseas.”
Democrats argue that Mr. Comer ought to have agreed to testify in public as Mr. Biden had previously volunteered to let witnesses to appear at a public hearing or a deposition, “whichever they choose.”
They contend moreover that no witness who has consistently offered to testify in public has ever been the subject of a contempt proceeding.
When Democrats controlled the House in the previous Congress, the chamber decided to file charges of contempt against four uncooperative witnesses for their refusal to assist with the special House committee looking into the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. But unlike Hunter Biden, none of those four witnesses—all of whom are Mr. Trump’s allies—had expressed a desire to speak in public.
Two of those witnesses, Stephen K. Bannon and Peter Navarro, were subsequently charged by the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C.; both men were found guilty but are currently fighting their cases. A fine of up to $100,000 and a possible term of one year in jail are associated with criminal contempt charges.
Not every witness who disobeyed the committee’s subpoenas was reported for contempt by the Jan. 6 committee. Among the Republican members of Congress who received a subpoena but refused to assist with the probe was Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Instead, the panel agreed on January 6 to send Mr. Jordan and three other Republican congressman for an investigation to the Ethics Committee.