WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden on Friday indicated a new willingness to testify before lawmakers under certain conditions but held firm against complying with a current subpoena as House Republicans moved to hold him in contempt of Congress.
In a letter to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s attorney, seemed to open the door for a private deposition between the president’s son and the Republican chairmen who have been investigating him and his family.
The overture could signal the start of negotiations between the two sides, which have been battling for months over deposing Hunter Biden as he faces an ongoing Justice Department investigation that has resulted in two indictments.
But, Lowell wrote that Biden’s cooperation is dependent on the committee issuing a new subpoena. They maintain that the two subpoenas sent in November are not legitimate because they were issued before the full House authorized the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
Hunter Biden’s legal team cited a 2020 legal opinion issued by then-Attorney General William Barr, which stated that a subpoena issued through an impeachment inquiry not yet approved by the full chamber has “no compulsory effect.”
“If you issue a new proper subpoena, now that there is a duly authorized impeachment inquiry, Mr. Biden will comply for a hearing or deposition,” the letter read. “We will accept such a subpoena on Mr. Biden’s behalf.”
Rep. James Comer, the chairman of the Oversight committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary panel, said in a statement Friday they are “heartened” by the shift from Hunter Biden’s legal team. Still, they held firm that he must comply with their subpoena.
“For now, the House of Representatives will move forward with holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress until such time that Hunter Biden confirms a date to appear for a private deposition in accordance with his legal obligation,” the statement read.
Both the Oversight and Judiciary panels approved contempt of Congress charges against Hunter Biden Wednesday, advancing the resolutions to the House floor. A House vote is expected next week.
If the House votes to hold Hunter Biden in contempt, as expected, it will be up to the Department of Justice, specifically the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to decide whether to prosecute.
It marks the latest step for the Republican impeachment inquiry, which began in September, but has so far failed to uncover evidence directly implicating the president in wrongdoing involving his son’s business dealings.
Hunter Biden has defended his lack of compliance with the GOP-issued subpoena, which ordered him to appear for closed-door testimony in mid-December. Biden and his attorneys said information from private interviews can be selectively leaked and manipulated by House Republicans and insisted that he would only testify in public.
Further angering Republicans, Hunter Biden and his team have chosen to appear at the Capitol on two occasions — once at an Oversight hearing this week and another time on the day of his scheduled deposition last month. On both occasions, the younger Biden refused to testify privately, instead delivering statements to the press where he defended his business affairs and castigated the yearslong investigations into him and his family.
“While we will work to schedule a deposition date, we will not tolerate any additional stunts or delay from Hunter Biden,” Jordan and Comer said in their statement Friday. “The American people will not tolerate, and the House will not provide, special treatment for the Biden family.”
Hunter Biden, meanwhile, pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges Thursday in Los Angeles stemming from a special counsel investigation that’s also produced charges in Delaware related to a 2018 firearm purchase.