House GOP to begin contempt of Congress proceedings against Hunter Biden after he defied subpoena to testify in deposition

 December 14, 2023

Hunter Biden had been subpoenaed to appear and testify in a closed-door deposition with the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees on Wednesday but defiantly refused to show up and instead held a press conference in front of the Capitol building.

Almost immediately, the Republican chairmen of those two committees announced that they would begin contempt of Congress proceedings against the president's son, according to Breitbart.

Such a move will put House Democrats and Attorney General Merrick Garland in a tricky spot, as they repeatedly pursued similar contempt proceedings and even criminal charges against uncooperative allies and associates of former President Donald Trump who had likewise defied lawful subpoenas issued when Democrats controlled the House.

"We will now initiate contempt of Congress proceedings"

House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-KY) and House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) issued a joint statement on Wednesday to announce their response to Hunter Biden's refusal to comply with a subpoena to testify in a closed-door deposition.

"Hunter Biden today defied lawful subpoenas and we will now initiate contempt of Congress proceedings. We will not provide special treatment because his last name is Biden," the two chairmen said.

"As our committees were today prepared to depose Hunter Biden, he chose to make a public statement on Capitol Hill instead where he said his father, Joe Biden was not financially involved in his family’s business dealings," they continued. "Exactly how was Joe Biden involved? Evidence shows Joe Biden met with Hunter’s business associates and his name was at the center of the family business strategy."

"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. Today’s obstruction by Hunter Biden reinforces the need for a formal vote," the GOP lawmakers stated. "President Biden and his family must be held accountable for their corruption and obstruction. And we will provide that to the American people."

The press release from Comer and Jordan went on to note that closed-door depositions are a "standard investigative procedure" utilized by both attorneys and congressional investigators. They further pointed out that House Democrats had made full use on multiple occasions of subpoena-compelled depositions during the two Trump impeachment investigations as well as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot investigation.

Democrats and DOJ pressed contempt charges against Trump associates

That prior use by House Democrats of subpoenas to compel testimony in depositions and contempt proceedings for those who failed to comply puts themselves and Attorney General Garland at grave risk of appearing grossly partisan and hypocritical in terms of the current threat of congressional contempt against Hunter Biden.

CNN reported that House Democrats "used the process several times as they ran into uncooperative allies and former aides to former President Donald Trump."

Indeed, at least four prominent associates of Trump were held in contempt of Congress by Democrats, and while Garland's Justice Department declined to pursue criminal charges against former Trump aide Dan Scavino and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the DOJ did prosecute and convict former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and former Trade Adviser Peter Navarro -- though neither has served any time yet as they have appealed their separate convictions.

Different forms of congressional contempt

CNN further reported that there are three different types of congressional contempt proceedings, the first and most commonly used is criminal contempt, in which a referral for prosecution is sent to the DOJ and the DOJ then decides whether or not to press charges, with a conviction resulting in a steep fine and up to one year in prison.

Congress can also pursue civil contempt, in which a lawsuit is filed to urge a court to order a defiant witness to comply with a lawful subpoena, though that process typically takes a substantial amount of time to complete. There is also the rarely used tool of inherent contempt, in which the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House or Senate takes the defiant witness into custody and detains them at the Capitol until they agree to testify.

It will be interesting to see which form of congressional contempt House Republicans choose to use against Hunter Biden and whether AG Garland's DOJ will aid or obstruct the effort to hold the president's son accountable for the consequences of his actions.

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