WASHINGTON — Hunter Biden on Wednesday repeated his offer to appear at a public hearing on Capitol Hill, defying a House Republican-issued subpoena that called for him to testify instead at a closed-door deposition.
President Joe Biden’s son lashed out at Republicans during brief remarks standing outside of the U.S. Capitol, saying, “I’m here today to make sure that the House committees’ illegitimate investigations of my family do not proceed on distortions, manipulated evidence and lies.”
Republicans had subpoenaed Hunter Biden to appear for a closed-door deposition Wednesday morning before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. The chairmen of those committees, as well as the House Ways and Means Committee, are spearheading the impeachment effort into President Joe Biden.
Republicans have rejected Hunter Biden’s offer to appear for an initial public hearing, saying they want him to testify privately first. After learning he would not attend Wednesday’s scheduled deposition, they told reporters they would look at moving forward with proceedings to hold him in contempt of Congress.
In remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Hunter Biden said that the House GOP doesn’t want an “open process,” an argument he and his lawyer have made for weeks as they’ve pushed for a public hearing.
Hunter Biden said that for six years, he has been the target of “MAGA Republicans” who “have impugned my character invaded my privacy, attacked my wife, my children, my family, and my friends. They ridiculed my struggle with addiction. They belittled my recovery and they have tried to dehumanize me, all to embarrass and damage my father who has devoted his entire life to service.”
“For six years, I have been a target of the unrelenting Trump attack machine shouting, ‘Where’s Hunter?’ Well, here’s my answer. I am here,” he said.
He stated that his father was not financially involved in any of his business dealings. “Not as a practicing lawyer, as a board member of Burisma not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad and certainly not as an artist,” he said.
Hunter Biden said that his parents saved his life as he battled with addiction in the wake of his brother Beau’s death from cancer and he admitted that during that time, he was “extremely irresponsible” with his finances.
“But to suggest that is grounds for an impeachment inquiry is beyond the absurd. It’s shameless,” he said. “There’s no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business.”
Hunter Biden said that the three chairmen investigating him — Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith, R-Mo. — have “distorted the facts” by cherry-picking lines from a bank statement, manipulating texts he sent and editing testimony of his friends and former business partners.
“There is no fairness or decency in what these Republicans are doing,” he said. “They have lied over and over about every aspect of my personal and professional life, so much so that their lies have become false facts believed by too many people.”
He added, “No matter how many times it is debunked, they continue to insist that my father’s support of Ukraine against Russia is the result of a nonexistent bribe.”
The Oversight and Judiciary panels didn’t know as recently as Tuesday whether Hunter Biden would show up for the closed-door deposition required by their subpoena. They were even prepared for him to come in with a camera set-up. The committee disbanded shortly after Hunter Biden made his remarks.
Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, had been exchanging formal letters with the committee chairmen for several weeks that made clear both sides were at odds with how to proceed.
The House is set to vote Wednesday to authorize an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, which was informally launched by then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in September.
The White House and congressional Democrats have denied for months any wrongdoing by the president, and House Republicans themselves have been unable to present any evidence supporting their assertions.
Asked about that Wednesday, Comer said, “We found some very serious evidence,” though he didn’t elaborate on any specifics.
In the afternoon, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre discussed Hunter Biden’s appearance on Capitol Hill.
“The president was certainly familiar with what his son was going to say. And I think what you saw was from the heart,” Jean-Pierre said at the daily White House briefing.
Separately, Comer and Jordan released a statement saying Hunter Biden had “defied lawful subpoenas and we will now initiate contempt of Congress proceedings.”
“Today, the House will vote on an impeachment inquiry resolution to strengthen our legal case in the courts as we face obstruction from the White House and witnesses,” they said.
Congress is set to leave Thursday until the new year, so it’s unlikely a contempt vote would occur before the House is set to return to Washington in the second week of January.
In an interview for a podcast released on Friday, Hunter Biden said Republicans are trying to “kill” him, suggesting that his critics are engaging in a public campaign to lure him into a substance abuse relapse in an effort to damage his father’s presidency.
Hunter Biden faces a series of legal battles. Federal prosecutors charged him with nine tax-related charges on Thursday, including three felony counts. He was indicted in September on federal charges of possessing a gun while using narcotics.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf, who was involved with the federal investigation into Hunter Biden, will give a closed-door deposition to the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, three sources told NBC News.