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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Gustaf Kilander and Andrew Feinberg

Hunter Biden slams ‘shameless’ House GOP as he refuses to sit for deposition


Hunter Biden gave a defiant speech on Capitol Hill as he refused to sit for a closed-door deposition in House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden.

In a statement to reporters upon his arrival at the Capitol complex Wednesday morning, he said he would only testify publicly as he explained he had come there “to make sure that the House committee’s illegitimate investigations of my family did not proceed on distortions, manipulated evidence and lies” and “to acknowledge that I’ve made mistakes in my life and wasted opportunities and privileges I was afforded”.

“For that I’m responsible for that. I’m accountable for that. I’m making amends,” he said.

He added that he was also at the Capitol “to correct how the Maga right” was portraying him for political purposes and said the GOP does not want an “open process where Americans can see their tactics”.

“For six years, Maga Republicans, including members of the House committees who are in a closed door session session right now have [attacked] my character, invaded my privacy, attacked my wife and my children, and my family, and my friends,” he continued. “They have ridiculed my struggle with addiction. They belittle my recovery and they have tried to dehumanise me, all to embarrass and damage my father, who has devoted his entire public life to service”.

“For six years I have been the target of the unrelenting Trump attack machine shouting, where’s Hunter? Well, here’s my answer — I am here”.

Hunter Biden speaks to reporters outside the Capitol
— (AP)

Mr Biden then abruptly left Capitol Hill, shrouded in a cloud of speculation over whether House Republicans would follow through on their earlier threats to hold him in contempt should he fail to comply with their subpoena.

His attorney, Abbe Lowell, had indicated last week that the president’s son is willing to give evidence before the GOP-led panel, which has been conducting a long-running and thus far fruitless probe into the Biden family in an effort to uncover any alleged wrongdoing on the part of President Biden. But he said his client would only testify in an open hearing, citing the GOP committee’s penchant for selectively leaking transcripts of testimony in ways that bolster their preferred narratives.

Mr Biden confirmed these concerns in his statement, slamming the GOP panel for having “having distorted the facts by cherry picking lines from a bank statement, manipulating texts I sent, editing the testimony of my friends and former business partners, and misstating personal information that was stolen from me”.

“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 lives have become the false facts believed by too many people”.

He also categorically denied that his father had ever been involved in any of his business ventures, “not as a practising lawyer, not 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”.

“There is no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business, because it did not happen,” he said.

Had he elected to participate in the closed-door session, Mr Biden could have declined to answer questions under his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as he has been charged with nine tax offences in California, where he lives, and additional gun-related crimes in Delaware.

In addition to the House’s inquiry, his conduct also is the focus of another long-running probe that began under the Trump administration, run by Delaware US Attorney David Weiss. Mr Weiss, who brought the two federal indictments against Mr Biden in Delaware and California, was appointed as a special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland this past summer.

Mr Lowell had said he was concerned ahead of the planned deposition that comments by Mr Biden made in private may be taken out of context. House Republicans have countered by arguing that filming the proceeding and releasing the transcript would prevent that.

But there’s no guarantee that Mr Comer, the committee chair, would authorise the release of either video or a full transcript, particularly if it would not help his panel advance thus-far unsupported claims that President Biden acted illegally or improperly.

One Democratic member of the committee, Representative Jared Moskowitz of Florida, pointed out the contradiction in Mr Comer’s disdain for transparency as he entered the committee’s office suite while members were waiting for Mr Biden.

“Donald Trump has asked for cameras in the courtroom. I don’t know why the chairman is so scared of Hunter Biden,” he said.

The Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, said Mr Biden’s attorneys had correctly identified a pattern in which the GOP demands closed depositions “so the public couldn’t see it and so they could continue to cherry pick little pieces of evidence and distort and misrepresent what had taken place”.

“This is a pattern that Hunter Biden and his lawyer clearly observed, that members of this committee have observed has been taking place for many months now,” he said.

Mr Raskin said the GOP’s refusal to release transcripts and penchant for selective leaks was “interfering with the work of this committee, because witnesses don’t want to come in only to have a closed door deposition and then have their words mangled and misrepresented to the public through selective leaks and orchestrated choreography of false narratives”.

For his part, Mr Comer complained to reporters that a public hearing would have allowed Democrats to interject with “speeches” and “filibusters” and claimed that the House’s pending vote on opening a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden would mean that Hunter Biden would be compelled to return for the closed-door session Republicans want.

He also said the House would consider voting to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress.

Neither the White House nor Mr Biden’s legal team would say whether anyone in the Biden administration had knowledge of Hunter Biden’s plans to deliver remarks but not sit for the closed-door deposition on Wednesday.

But a White House source who spoke to The Independent said Biden administration figures who watched the president’s son speak outside the Capitol viewed his statement as “powerful, forceful and emotional”.

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