Lawmakers voted along party lines Wednesday to send a resolution to the floor, which would require near-unanimous Republican support, - Jordain Carney of POLITICO writes.
House Republicans are one step closer to holding Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress after he skipped a closed-door deposition last month.
The House Judiciary Committee and Oversight Committee voted along party lines to send a resolution and a report recommending the president’s son be held in contempt to the full House.
It paves the way for a dramatic showdown on the House floor, where Republicans will need near total unity among their two-vote majority to refer the president’s son to the Justice Department. Should they get there, DOJ will ultimately decide if Hunter Biden – who is already facing two criminal cases– will get slapped with new charges. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves is expected to ultimately make the decision.
“He blatantly defied two lawful subpoenas. Hunter Biden’s willful refusal to comply with the committee subpoenas is a criminal act,” Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday.
Hunter Biden also made a brief surprise appearance at the Oversight Committee meeting, prompting GOP anger. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) said in the room: "I think he should be hauled off to jail right now." He left as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tried to start questioning him.
Speaker Mike Johnson, asked about the appearance, told reporters that doesn’t change that Hunter Biden hasn’t complied with the GOP’s subpoenas, and that he supports efforts to hold him in contempt. Lawmakers expect a vote on the House floor as soon as next week, but spokespeople for Johnson didn’t immediately respond to a question on Wednesday about how quickly a vote could be scheduled on a contempt resolution.
House Republicans view Hunter Biden as a top witness in their sweeping impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, which has largely focused on business deals by his family members. GOP investigators are in the final stages of that probe, which has also looked at Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents and the years-long federal investigation into Hunter Biden.
While the House GOP has found evidence of Hunter Biden using his last name to bolster his own influence, and poked holes in previous statements by Joe Biden and the White House they’ve struggled to find clear evidence that proves Joe Biden took actions as president or vice president that were meant to bolster his family’s business deals.
Republicans are starting off the year juggling priorities, including an effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that has gained new momentum after being on the backburner for months. That’s on top of calls to add Attorney General Merrick Garland and Defense Secretary Austin Lloyd to their list of Biden administration officials in line for impeachment.
At the same time, they’ve got a quickly approaching Jan. 19 deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown, with no plan yet for how to avoid it. And conservatives derailed the floor earlier Wednesday in retribution for a top-line deal.
Wednesday’s vote comes after Republicans subpoenaed Hunter Biden late last year to meet with congressional investigators on Dec. 13. Instead, he skipped the closed-door interview, speaking briefly to reporters outside the Capitol to defend his father and reiterate that he would be willing to take part in a public hearing.
“Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry, or hear what I have to say. What are they afraid of? I am here,” Hunter Biden said at the time.
The move angered congressional Republicans, who said they received no heads-up about the move. They had publicly warned that they would pursue contempt if he didn’t appear before the deposition.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers have defended their decision to not comply with the GOP subpoena, arguing that a closed-door hearing would set up the possibility that his testimony would be selectively leaked. His legal team, the White House and congressional Democrats have roundly criticized Republicans for pursuing contempt – reminding them of comments by Comer earlier last year where he appeared open to a public hearing.
“We are here today because the chairman has bizarrely decided to obstruct his own investigation and is now seeking to hold Hunter Biden in contempt after he accepted the chairman’s multiple public offers to come answer the committee’s questions under oath before the American people,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said at Wednesday’s Oversight hearing.
White House spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement that “House Republicans are less than ten days from sparking a partial government shutdown that many of their far-right members are rooting for, but instead of working full-time to avoid it, they are wasting time on political stunts.”
Republicans have since rejected a public hearing, however, unless Hunter Biden first speaks with them behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, Hunter Biden is scheduled to appear in court in California on Thursday over federal tax charges. Republicans’ effort to hold him in contempt could force the DOJ to weigh another politically contentious decision.
Congress has held 10 people in contempt since 2008, but only two have faced federal charges, according to the Congressional Research Service. That includes the four referrals from the first two years of the Biden administration, only two of which resulted in the pursuit of charges.
Congressional investigators spoke with Hunter Biden’s art dealer this week. Republicans are also still working to set up a closed-door interview with Joe Biden’s brother, James Biden, whom they subpoenaed last year.
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