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As House tees up contempt vote, Hunter Biden legal team questions validity of subpoena

As House Republicans announced plans to hold a floor vote on the resolutions recommending Hunter Biden be held in criminal contempt of Congress, a lawyer for President Biden’s son questioned the validity of the subpoenas issued by the House Oversight and Judiciary committees and said his client would appear for a deposition or hearing if a new subpoena is issued.

In a letter sent to House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) Friday, attorney Abbe Lowell argued that on the basis of a 2020 legal opinion issued by then-Attorney General William P. Barr, the subpoenas issued to Hunter Biden on Nov. 8 and 9, 2023, are invalid, as they were issued before the authorization of an impeachment inquiry against President Biden by a full House vote that followed in December. Lowell went on to write that if lawmakers issue a “new proper subpoena, now that there is a duly authorized impeachment inquiry, Mr. Biden will comply for a hearing or deposition,” according to the letter provided to The Washington Post.

The offer proposed by Lowell, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly, is in line with the proposal discussed earlier this week by lawmakers during a House Judiciary hearing, in which Hunter Biden would appear for a public hearing under the rules of a deposition. Republican lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee rejected the concession and ultimately advanced the contempt resolution for violating a subpoena seeking his closed-door testimony. GOP lawmakers on the Oversight Committee followed suit, voting along party lines after a contentious session where Hunter Biden made a surprise appearance — essentially daring lawmakers to invite him to publicly testify on the spot.

It remains unclear whether House Republicans have the votes to adopt the contempt measure next week, and refer it to the Justice Department, where the U.S. attorney’s office would then determine whether to pursue the charges against the president’s son. Some GOP members have privately expressed concern about supporting the contempt resolution in light of Hunter Biden’s repeated offers to testify publicly.

Lowell, who accompanied the president’s son to the hearing Wednesday along with his friend and benefactor Kevin Morris, told reporters after leaving the room partway through the hearing that his client was only willing to testify in a public setting due to concerns that Republicans would selectively leak his private remarks.

“Hunter Biden was and is a private citizen,” Lowell said on Wednesday. “Despite this, Republicans have sought to use him as a surrogate to attack his father. And, despite their improper partisan motives, on six different occasions since February of 2023, we have offered to work with the House committees to see what and how relevant information to any legitimate inquiry could be provided.”

Lowell’s offer to Comer and Jordan is the latest move deployed by his legal team as part of a more aggressive and offensive strategy to defend his father against so-far unsubstantiated allegations that Biden was directly involved with his son’s foreign business dealings. Hunter Biden’s appearance on Capitol Hill this week was his second since December, when he defied a summons for a closed-door deposition. He delivered impassioned remarks not far from the steps of the Senate, taking accountability for his mistakes and stating clearly that his father had no financial involvement with his business.

In a statement released on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, Jordan and Comer said that House Republicans would continue to “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.”

“While we will work to schedule a deposition date, we will not tolerate any additional stunts or delay from Hunter Biden,” wrote Comer and Jordan. “The American people will not tolerate, and the House will not provide, special treatment for the Biden family.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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