Updated Dec 13, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Hunter Biden’s refusal to testify propels GOP contempt push

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

House Republicans said they will begin contempt of Congress proceedings against Hunter Biden after he refused to sit for a closed-door deposition that was scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: It marks the House Republicans' first attempt at enforcing one of the subpoenas this Congress by holding a witness in contempt.

  • The House is also voting to formalize an impeachment inquiry on Wednesday in the hopes of strengthening their standing in court battles.

The latest: House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said in a joint statement, "Hunter Biden today defied lawful subpoenas and we will now initiate contempt of Congress proceedings."

Driving the news: Biden, in a rare in-person statement outside the Senate on Wednesday, reiterated his demand that he testify at a public hearing of the House Oversight Committee rather than a private deposition.

  • Biden alleged GOP lawmakers have "distorted the facts" in part by "editing the testimony of my friends and former business parters."
  • "Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry or hear what I have to say," said Biden. "What are they afraid of? I'm here. I'm ready."

What they're saying: "When you show up on the Capitol steps to hold a press conference instead of sitting for your deposition, it would seem you want to be held in contempt," Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a member of both committees, told Axios, adding: "I'm comfortable obliging him."

  • Oversight Committee member Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), told Axios she "sure as hell hopes" Republicans begin contempt proceedings against Biden.
  • Pointing to her vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for his refusal to comply with a Jan. 6 committee subpoena, Mace said: "As you know, I am not shy about holding people in contempt when they ignore subpoena[s]."

The other side: Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, told reporters he sympathizes with Biden's refusal to testify, saying he "clearly observed" that Republicans "cherrypick little pieces of evidence."

  • Raskin later said he thinks Biden has a "vastly stronger case" against contempt than Bannon – who was convicted and sentenced to four months in prison, but is currently appealing the verdict.
  • "You can't even compare them," Raskin told Axios. "It's apples and oranges."

Editor's note: This story was updated with a joint statement from Comer and Jordan and comments from Raskin.

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