WASHINGTON ― Republicans will begin contempt of Congress proceedings against the president’s son if he refuses to testify in a closed deposition, House oversight committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.
“If Mr. Biden does not appear for his deposition on December 13, 2023, the Committees will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings,” Comer wrote in a letter to Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell.
Comer sent Biden a subpoena for his testimony last month, demanding a private interview about his foreign business deals as Republicans weigh whether to draft articles of impeachment against his father, President Joe Biden.
Lowell has said that his client would be willing to talk to lawmakers, but only in a public hearing ― an offer Lowell had reiterated earlier on Wednesday in a letter to Comer.
“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,” Lowell wrote. “A hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings.”
Republicans have claimed that the president participated in and did official favors for his son’s business. But they’ve struggled mightily to prove it.
Comer has said that testimony from Devon Archer, a former business partner of Hunter Biden’s, showed that Joe Biden was involved in the business because he would sometimes be put on speakerphone with Hunter’s work colleagues.
But the transcript of Archer’s testimony revealed another important detail: He said the conversations with Joe Biden never went beyond pleasantries about local weather and geography.
If the House approves a contempt resolution against Hunter Biden, then the citation would be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution. But the department can simply decline to prosecute, so it’s not clear how much of a threat contempt proceedings would be to Hunter.
Still, if the president’s son refuses to testify, Comer would certainly add it to his list of grievances against the Biden administration, potentially bolstering his impeachment case to his Republican colleagues.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said this week that Republicans would hold a symbolic vote next week to authorize the already-ongoing impeachment inquiry.
When asked whether he expects the contempt threat to move Biden, Comer suggested he does.
“I think he’ll show up,” Comer told HuffPost.