In a dramatic turn of events, U.S. House Republicans are advancing towards holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress amidst an impeachment investigation into his father, President Joe Biden.
This development followed Hunter Biden’s unforeseen appearance at the Capitol, which led to a chaotic scene.
Hunter Biden faces Congressional confrontation, deposition dispute
Republican legislators from the House Oversight and Judiciary committees took action after Hunter Biden declined a closed-door deposition last month, offering instead to testify publicly—a proposal they dismissed.
The surprise visit of 53-year-old Hunter Biden to the House Oversight Committee’s session sparked immediate conflict among lawmakers.
Representative Nancy Mace, a Republican, confronted him directly, stating, “You are not above the law. Hunter Biden, you are too afraid to show up for a deposition. And you still are today.”
Rising tensions, legal challenges surrounding Hunter Biden
This incident accentuates the escalating tension between the Biden family and House Republicans, who allege that the president and his family benefited improperly from policies during his vice presidency from 2009 to 2017.
Both the White House and Hunter Biden have denied any misconduct.
Amidst this political turmoil, Hunter Biden is facing his legal battles. He is expected to appear in a Los Angeles federal court to address charges of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes.
Additionally, he faces charges in Delaware for lying about his drug use when purchasing a handgun, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Debate over Hunter Biden’s testimony intensifies in committee meeting
During the committee meeting, Democratic Representative Jared Moskowitz questioned the reluctance to take Hunter Biden’s testimony, saying, “The witness accepted the chairman’s invitation. It just so happens the witness is here. Let’s vote. Let’s take a vote. Who wants to hear from Hunter right now, today?”
Following the heated exchanges, Hunter Biden left the hearing.
His attorney, Abbe Lowell, addressed the media, outlining their position: “We have offered to work with the House committees to see what and how relevant information to any legitimate inquiry could be provided. Our first five offers were ignored.”
“And then in November, they issued a subpoena for a behind-closed-doors deposition, a tactic that the Republicans have repeatedly misused in their political crusade to selectively leak and mischaracterize.”
Congressional procedure and historical context of Contempt charges
The process following a committee vote usually involves the full House directing a U.S. attorney to certify the contempt, per the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Historically, since 2008, the House has held ten individuals in contempt of Congress.
However, the Justice Department has pursued indictments in only two cases, involving Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, advisers to former President Donald Trump.
Legal precedents and consequences in Congressional contempt cases
Bannon faced a four-month prison sentence, which he appealed, while Navarro was convicted in September 2023.
Notably, there is no precedent for a sitting president’s family member being held in contempt of Congress, dating back to 1980.
The contempt of Congress can result in a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment ranging from one to 12 months.