“Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics. … What are they afraid of? I’m here. I’m ready,” he added.
The two Republicans leading the investigation — Comer and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — said Wednesday morning that they would move toward holding Hunter Biden in contempt.
With the House leaving town this week until January, that fight is likely to drag into next year. And Comer and Jordan need near unanimity among the House GOP to ultimately hold the younger Biden in contempt of Congress. Though even if they clear that hurdle, there’s no guarantee the Justice Department would ultimately decide to prosecute him.
And the two chairs indicated that they will try again to get Hunter Biden to speak to them behind closed doors after the House votes to formalize their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. That vote is expected later Wednesday. Republicans are confident they’ll be able to pass it, with only Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) viewed as a potential no vote.
“Once we take that vote, we expect him to come in for his interview — for his deposition. And frankly, we’ll also look at contempt proceedings as we move forward,” Jordan said.
Comer added that he would speak with Speaker Mike Johnson about moving forward with contempt on Wednesday.
It was a chaotic morning at the Capitol — Hunter Biden and House Republicans hosted dueling press gaggles on different areas of the Hill — as lawmakers and committee aides remained unsure, even just hours beforehand, whether the president’s son would show up for the closed-door deposition.
A committee aide told POLITICO on Wednesday morning that they still had not heard from Hunter Biden’s legal team. But they had been preparing behind-the-scenes just in case, including setting up cameras to film and drawing up hundreds of questions to ask the president’s son if he appeared.
GOP investigators subpoenaed Hunter Biden in November for a closed-door meeting, but his attorney, Abbe Lowell, responded that the president’s son was willing to testify in a public hearing. Comer publicly denied that request, though House Republicans said they would videotape the deposition and quickly release a transcript of the interview, in a failed bid to assuage Lowell’s concerns that Hunter Biden’s testimony would be selectively leaked or mischaracterized.
Democrats have criticized Comer, in particular, for not releasing transcripts for several closed-door interviews and rejecting Hunter Biden’s offer to interview publicly.
“They wanted to conduct the deposition in a closed door interview, so the public couldn’t see it and so they could continue to cherry pick little pieces of evidence and distort and misrepresent what had taken place,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee.
In addition to Hunter Biden, GOP investigators have subpoenaed several individuals including James Biden, Joe Biden’s brother, and Rob Walker, a Hunter Biden business associate. Republicans have said lawyers for both are in talks with committee staff. They’ve also requested voluntary interviews with other family members.
But Republicans view Hunter Biden as a top target in their sweeping impeachment inquiry aimed at President Joe Biden. The House is expected to vote on Wednesday to formalize that inquiry, which was launched back in September.
Formalizing the inquiry is expected to give Republicans more legal power, as they look to enforce their demands for documents and interviews. Though the White House has defended its level of cooperation with the investigation, officials have also pointed back to a Trump-era Justice Department opinion to argue that the inquiry, and subpoenas stemming from it, lack legitimacy without a formal vote to legitimize.
Republicans’ top potential legal targets include two Justice Department tax officials and a former White House counsel, each of whom they’ve requested interviews with. But Comer added that he believed the resolution could also help with their ongoing battle with Hunter Biden, noting that his counsel had previously “implied that this wasn’t a legitimate investigation.”
Nicholas Wu and Anthony Adragna contributed.