WASHINGTON: On Wednesday, two Republican-controlled House committees will take preliminary votes on whether to proceed with a move to charge Democratic President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden with contempt of Congress.
The actions by the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees are the latest salvos in the House Republicans’ impeachment investigation targeting the president. House Republicans claim that Biden and his family improperly benefited from the decisions he made as vice president from 2009 to 2017. The White House and Hunter Biden have both denied any wrongdoing.
As part of the investigation, the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena for Hunter Biden to appear for a closed-door deposition on December 13. Hunter Biden stated that he would be willing to testify publicly, but the panel declined, stating that he would have to submit to a private deposition in addition to any public testimony.
Hunter Biden arrived outside the Capitol on the day of the deposition and made public remarks, but he did not come for the closed-door interview.
“Mr. Biden’s flagrant defiance of the Committees’ deposition subpoenas—while choosing to appear nearby on the Capitol grounds to read a prepared statement on the same matters—is contemptuous, and he must be held accountable,” the letter states.
According to the Congressional Research Service, after a committee vote, the whole House usually votes to direct the certification of contempt to a U.S. attorney. The Justice Department is normally in charge of enforcing contempt statutes enacted by Congress.
According to the CRS, the House has held ten people in contempt of Congress since 2008, but the Justice Department has only sought the indictment of two Republican former President Donald Trump aides, Stephen Bannon and Peter Navarro.
Bannon appealed his four-month prison sentence. In September 2023, the court convicted Navarro.
The Congressional Research Service report, which contains contempt resolutions dating back to 1980, does not record any instance of Congress holding a sitting president’s family member in contempt.
Contempt of Congress is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for one to twelve months.