• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Updated Jan 10, 2024, 5:52pm EST

House committees advance effort to hold Hunter Biden in contempt after chaotic hearing

Hunter Biden sits with his attorney Abbe Lowell on Wednesday as he makes a surprise appearance at a House Oversight Committee vote on whether to hold him in contempt of Congress for failing to respond to a request to testify to the House last month.
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
TweetEmailWhatsapp

Sign up for Semafor Flagship: The daily global news briefing you can trust. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

The Republican-led House judiciary and oversight committees voted Wednesday to advance a resolution recommending Hunter Biden be held in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena. The judiciary committee voted 23-14, and the oversight committee 25-21. The matter will now move to the full House.

The president’s son unexpectedly showed up at the hearing earlier in the day, though he only stayed briefly at what would become an hours-long affair.

The House GOP brought contempt resolutions against Hunter Biden after he refused to appear for a closed-door deposition last month, insisting he would only testify in public. The deposition was meant to be part of Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

AD
Title icon

The Scene

The hearing was chaotic — even rowdy, at times — from the beginning. Lawmakers frequently strayed from the topic of Hunter Biden’s subpoena, with Democrats holding up a poster board with a photo of Donald Trump standing next to Jeffrey Epstein and attacking the former president for the money he made from foreign governments while in office, and Republicans displaying explicit photos of the president’s son.

At one point, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.) made an unfortunate gaffe, saying that if the committee was going to talk about outrageous situations, it should discuss “the fact that President Trump incited an erection.”

She immediately caught her mistake and joked, “Maybe that too!”

AD

GOP members were also quick to lambast Hunter Biden when they realized he was in the hearing room on Wednesday, with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) asking “who bribed Hunter Biden to be here?”

“You are the epitome of white privilege. Coming in to the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a Congressional subpoena to be deposed,” she said, addressing him. “What are you afraid of? You have no balls to come up here.”

“I think that Hunter Biden should be arrested right here, right now, and go straight to jail,” she added.

AD

Biden left the hearing room when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) began to speak, about 30 minutes after his arrival. “Excuse me, Hunter, apparently you’re afraid of my words,” Greene said as he walked out.

After Biden left, Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) reprimanded Greene for showing “dick pics” at a past hearing. Garcia’s comments were prescient, as Greene later held up a poster board with large, censored photos she said were taken from a Hunter Biden sex tape. This was the second time Greene displayed photos of Biden that Democrats have admonished as “pornographic;” she showed similar images during a hearing last summer.

Title icon

Know More

Hunter Biden refused to testify behind closed doors last month, raising concerns that private testimony could be selectively leaked or manipulated by House Republicans.

Republicans have argued that a public format would be insufficient for this investigation and have said that if Biden testifies privately, they would release the transcript of the deposition and hold a public hearing at a later date.

“Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry, or hear what I have to say,” Biden said in a rare public statement outside the Capitol in December. “What are they afraid of? I am here.”

His attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement Wednesday, “Republican chairs have today commandeered an unprecedented resolution to hold someone in contempt who has offered to publicly answer all their proper questions.”

Prior to issuing the subpoena, Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said he would “drop everything” if Hunter Biden decided to testify publicly. The president’s son and his attorneys have since accused Comer of reneging.

Republicans have long accused Hunter Biden of peddling influence to foreign governments when his father was vice president, and GOP lawmakers last month launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden over the matter.

But more than a year after its launch, the GOP’s investigation into Hunter Biden has failed to prove that the president benefitted from any of his son’s business dealings or used his government power to enrich himself or his family. Both the White House and Hunter Biden’s legal team have repeatedly said the president was not involved in his family’s foreign business activities.

Semafor Logo
AD