House Republicans Ready Contempt Resolution Against Hunter Biden

The president's son offered to testify in public but refused a subpoena for his private deposition.

WASHINGTON ― Republicans on Monday released the text of their resolution holding President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in contempt of Congress for refusing to talk to lawmakers behind closed doors.

Republicans sent Hunter Biden a subpoena last year demanding he sit for a deposition, but Biden has insisted he would only speak during a public hearing ― an offer he repeated outside the Capitol on his scheduled deposition date in December.

The contempt resolution says Hunter Biden’s testimony is “a critical component of the impeachment inquiry” against President Biden, whom the resolution says may have “abused his office of public trust” by participating in his son’s business. Republicans have struggled to find compelling evidence for their allegations.

House committees led by Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) will vote on the resolution Wednesday, setting up an eventual vote by the full House. If the resolution is adopted, then the House would refer the matter to the Justice Department for prosecution.

Though it’s illegal to defy a congressional subpoena, the Justice Department has in the past declined to prosecute contempt referrals from the political party opposite the one controlling the executive branch. Hunter Biden is currently the target of a lengthy prosecution by a U.S. attorney held over from the Donald Trump administration, though it’s unclear if contempt of Congress charges would be added to the tax and gun charges Biden’s already facing.

The Hunter Biden contempt resolution is awkward for a few reasons. One reason is that Jordan himself defied a Democratic subpoena in 2022 and faced no consequences. Another is that even though Biden defied the subpoena for private testimony, he did offer to speak in public.

“There is no precedent for the U.S. House of Representatives holding a private citizen in contempt of Congress who has offered to testify in public, under oath, and on a day of the Committee’s choosing,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Friday after Republicans announced plans for a contempt vote this week.

In their resolution, Republicans explain the benefit of a private deposition.

“This practice, which includes alternating hour-long segments of questioning by the majority and minority, allows committees to methodically and thoroughly examine a matter through direct and cross examination without the time constraints of a hearing imposed by House rules,” the resolution said. “These depositions result in a deeper understanding of the matter and more fulsome assessment of the relevant facts.”

During their impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump in 2019, Democrats conducted private depositions with witnesses who later testified again during public hearings. Republicans said they would do the same with Hunter Biden. Biden has said Republicans would use a deposition to leak misleading details.

The main Republican allegation against President Biden is that, as vice president in 2015 and 2016, he twisted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine in order to benefit his son, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. State Department officials debunked the allegation during private depositions as well as public hearings, but Republicans have been ignoring their testimony.

Ultimately, the most awkward thing about the Republican impeachment inquiry is that Trump directly owned a business that received millions from foreign governments while he was president ― exactly the kind of conflict of interest Republicans have struggled to prove against President Biden.

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