Hunter
© weeklyblitzHunter Biden
Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote in a brief letter to Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell that they "will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings" against the president's son if he fails to comply with a subpoena they sent him requiring him to testify in a closed-door setting on Dec. 13.

The warning shot from the pair of committee chairmen about using the rare process against the first son comes after Lowell told them last week, and again earlier Wednesday, that his client was willing to appear for a public hearing on Dec. 13, rather than for a deposition.

Lowell pointed to comments Comer has made in recent months signaling the chairman was open to hearing from Hunter Biden in a public setting, and he also accused Republicans of selectively sharing information they garnered in past closed-door settings to "misinform the American public."


Lowell wrote:
"[Hunter Biden] is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public — a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings,"
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the Oversight Committee's top Democrat, criticized Republicans for declining Hunter Biden's offer to testify in public, saying the first son would "answer questions under oath in front of the world — but unless he testifies in secret so he can be misquoted, @RepJamesComer will hold him in contempt? What a joke."

Republican lawmakers leading the investigation have pushed to conduct their witness interviews behind closed doors because they say the format lends itself to more thorough testimony. In a deposition, staff lawyers typically lead the questioning, and Republicans and Democrats alternate hourlong turns addressing the witness in a closed setting rather than the five-minute turns each lawmaker receives during a public hearing.

Jordan and Comer responded to Lowell on Wednesday by reasserting their demand for a deposition, which they first issued on Nov. 8:
"Contrary to the assertions in your letter, there is no 'choice' for Mr. Biden to make; the subpoenas compel him to appear for a deposition on December 13."
Republicans have not initiated contempt proceedings against anyone this year, but they threatened both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray with it after unsuccessful attempts to obtain certain documents from them. Blinken and Wray ultimately reached 11th-hour agreements with Republicans and averted contempt votes.

The House has voted 10 times in the last 15 years to hold someone in criminal contempt of Congress. When the vote is approved, the question is referred to the Department of Justice, which then has discretion over whether it wants to begin criminal proceedings against the person. A contempt of Congress referral requires the support of a majority of the House, not just of the committee that issued the subpoena.

Of the 10 contempt votes since 2008, the DOJ has pursued indictments against two people: Former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon.

The GOP's new contempt threat against Hunter Biden coincides with its impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden, over allegations that the president abused his authority when he was vice president to help his son and other family members profit through foreign business deals. The president denies he was involved with the business dealings.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said he will hold a floor vote next week to cement the impeachment inquiry into a resolution. Some have argued the inquiry is being conducted on shaky legal ground because it was launched verbally, rather than through a resolution, earlier this year by then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Lowell did not respond to a request for comment.

To read Comer and Jordan's letter to Lowell go here.