Jan 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House GOP plows ahead with Hunter Biden contempt vote

Hunter Biden outside an Oversight Committee hearing at the Rayburn House Office Building on Jan. 10, 2024. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

Top House Republicans said Friday they plan to move forward with a vote on holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress despite an offer from his legal team to sit for the closed-door deposition GOP lawmakers have demanded.

Why it matters: It would be the first time Republicans have voted to hold a committee witness in contempt since taking power last year and launching a vast array of investigations targeting President Biden and his administration.

Driving the news: In a schedule sent out on Friday, the office of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said the contempt resolution is set to be voted on Thursday.

  • "Next week the House will vote to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for repeatedly defying subpoenas," Scalise said in a post on X.
  • "Enough of his stunts. He doesn't get to play by a different set of rules. He's not above the law."

The backdrop: The House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, which are investigating the finances and business dealings of President Biden, moved to hold his son in contempt after he refused to sit for a closed-door deposition.

  • In a statement outside the Capitol just as the deposition was scheduled to begin, Hunter Biden instead offered to speak at a public hearing, alleging Republicans of "distorted" comments made in depositions.
  • Republicans on the Oversight Committee said they were further rankled by Hunter Biden making a surprise appearance at their markup on the contempt resolution.

The latest: Hunter Biden's lawyer Abbe Lowell sent Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) an eight-page letter on Friday arguing that their subpoena was invalid because it was issued before the House voted to formalize the impeachment inquiry.

  • "You have not explained why you are not interested in transparency and having the American people witness the full and complete testimony of Mr. Biden at a public hearing," Lowell wrote.
  • If the committee issues a "new proper subpoena, now that there is a duly authorized impeachment inquiry," he said, "Mr. Biden will comply for a hearing or deposition. We will accept such a subpoena."

The other side: Comer and Jordan responded in a statement saying they were "heartened that Hunter Biden now says he will comply with a subpoena."

  • They added he has "already defied two valid, lawful subpoenas."
  • "For now, the House of Representatives will move forward with holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress until such time that Hunter Biden confirms a date to appear for a private deposition in accordance with his legal obligation," they said.
  • The two chairmen added they "will not tolerate any additional stunts or delay from Hunter Biden" as they work to schedule a deposition date.

What we're watching: House Republicans appear to be mostly on board with holding Biden in contempt, but whether the Justice Department actually prosecutes him is an open question.

Axios' Alex Thompson contributed reporting for this story.

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