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Hunter Biden, Facing Contempt Referral, Says House Subpoenas Are Invalid

Hunter Biden argued Friday that the subpoenas House Republicans have issued to him are invalid, his latest attempt to counter the contempt of Congress case the G.O.P. is pursuing against him as part of their impeachment inquiry into his father.

In a letter to Congress, Mr. Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, argued that the subpoenas do not carry legal weight because they were authorized before the House had voted to open an impeachment investigation into President Biden.

“I write to make you aware (if you are not already) that your subpoenas were and are legally invalid and cannot form a legal basis to proceed with your misdirected and impermissible contempt resolution,” Mr. Lowell wrote to Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky, and Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio.

The Oversight and Judiciary Committees, led by Mr. Comer and Mr. Jordan, respectively, issued subpoenas for the younger Mr. Biden in November, but the full House did not vote to approve the inquiry until mid-December, more than a month later.

Republicans cried foul in 2019 when Democrats used a similar approach in their first impeachment investigation into former President Donald J. Trump.

To attempt to address the issue, their resolution authorizing the impeachment investigation into Mr. Biden retroactively approved subpoenas that had already been issued.

But Mr. Lowell wrote that that was insufficient and cited a 2020 opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that the “subpoena first, impeachment inquiry resolution second” approach was improper.

“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,” Mr. Lowell wrote.

Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, pointed to that statement as a reason Republicans should drop their contempt case against Hunter Biden. He noted Mr. Jordan said in a recent radio interview that Republicans would not move forward with a contempt vote if Mr. Biden agreed to testify.

“Hunter Biden is giving Republicans exactly what they have been demanding,” Mr. Raskin said in a statement. “It is time for Chairs Comer and Jordan to call off this truly absurd and wasteful contempt proceeding and finally take yes for an answer, which Chair Jordan already said he would ‘certainly’ do.”

Hunter Biden has embarked on an aggressive strategy to try to counter Republicans’ efforts to question him behind closed doors. He has repeatedly appeared unannounced on Capitol Hill to demonstrate that he is willing to testify publicly at a hearing, but said he refused to do so in a private setting.

Mr. Biden has said he is concerned Republicans will leak portions of his testimony without the proper context in an effort to hurt him legally and damage his father politically. Republicans counter that Hunter Biden is fearful of being questioned at length by staff lawyers and prefers the partisan theatrics and circus atmosphere that often attend a politically charged congressional hearing.

On Wednesday, both the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight Committee voted to hold him in contempt of Congress. Republicans announced on Friday that they planned to hold a vote of the full House on the matter next week.

Mr. Comer said in an interview that he was confident the contempt citation would pass, but given several G.O.P. vacancies and the party’s tight margin of control in the House, he would likely need every Republican to be present.

“If everybody’s here, we have the votes,” he said.

Should the full House approve the contempt citation, it would be up to federal prosecutors to decide whether to pursue a criminal case. Criminal contempt charges carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison, as well as a fine of up to $100,000.

Hunter Biden is already under federal indictment facing accusations of tax crimes related to his overseas business interests, including with companies and partners in Ukraine and China. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday during a hearing in Los Angeles, and a judge set a tentative trial date for June.

Republicans’ impeachment investigation is attempting to unearth evidence that his father was inappropriately involved in his foreign business dealings, but so far they have not turned up proof.


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