Hunter Biden offers to testify at House GOP open hearing about foreign deals rather than in closed-door deposition

WASHINGTON – Hunter Biden responded Tuesday to a House subpoena for testimony about his overseas business deals, offering to testify at an open hearing rather than a closed-door deposition, which his lawyer said would prevent a “cloaked, one-sided process.”

But Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said he would be expected to testify confidentially at first, as requested. Comer subpoenaed the president’s son on Nov. 8 for testimony about deals in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine during a period when his father served as vice president.

But Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has accused the three House Republican chairmen investigating Hunter Biden – Comer of Kentucky, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith of Missouri – of repeating “worn-out, false, baseless or debunked claims.”

On Tuesday, Lowell offered to have Hunter Biden testify at an open hearing in December rather than a closed-door deposition to discuss what he called Comer's failed attempts to link the business deals to President Joe Biden.

"Your fishing expedition has become Captain Ahab chasing the great white whale," Lowell wrote. "We have seen you use closed door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public. We therefore propose opening the door."

Comer replied that Hunter Biden is still expected to participate in a closed-door deposition.

“We expect full cooperation with our subpoena for a deposition but also agree that Hunter Biden should have opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date," Comer said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel, criticized Republicans for rejecting Biden's offer after a year of demanding information from him.

"What an epic humiliation for our colleagues and what a frank confession that they are simply not interested in the facts and have no confidence in their own case or the ability of their own Members to pursue it," Raskin said in a statement.

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, leaves the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building in Wilmington, Del., on Oct. 3.
Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, leaves the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building in Wilmington, Del., on Oct. 3.

What does House GOP want to ask Hunter Biden about?

Comer has accused Hunter Biden of being at the center of a web of 20 shell companies that received millions of dollars from foreign entities in Ukraine, China and elsewhere and allegedly funneled money to his father. The accusations, which Hunter Biden and the White House have called baseless, are at the heart of an impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden.

The accusations basically are that Hunter Biden, the president's brother James Biden and other business associates received big-dollar business deals in exchange for allegedly peddling influence with the former vice president and president. The committee tracked financial transactions that lawmakers said showed money flowing from foreign companies, in some cases with links to foreign governments such as China, to Hunter Biden and his relatives.

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Comer outlined several allegations:

◾ In 2014: Joe Biden attended a private dinner with a Russian oligarch after companies associated with Hunter Biden received proceeds from the oligarch.

◾ In 2014: Hunter Biden’s sportscar was paid for with funds from a Kazakhstan business partner about the same time that Joe Biden attended a dinner with the business partner.

◾ In 2017: the committee released a memo showing a $3 million payment originating from the Chinese company State Energy HK Ltd. to a Hunter Biden business associate, who then disbursed payments to Biden family members.

“In particular, your client has personal knowledge of whether and how President Biden has been involved in his family’s business dealings,” Comer said in his letter.

Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., speaks during the House Oversight Committee impeachment inquiry hearing into President Joe Biden on Sept. 28 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., speaks during the House Oversight Committee impeachment inquiry hearing into President Joe Biden on Sept. 28 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

How has Hunter Biden responded to the accusations?

Lowell’s initial response to the subpoena outlined responses to several of the latest accusations from the House chairmen during a Nov. 1 joint appearance on Fox News:

◾ Comer revealed a $40,000 check to Joe Biden in September 2017, when he was between jobs as vice president and president, from his brother James Biden. Comer alleged the check represented money laundering from Hunter Biden’s business interests in China passed through his uncle to his father. But Lowell’s letter noted the check was marked a “loan repayment.” Lowell cited fact-checkers and news coverage that found Hunter Biden was trying to develop an energy company and paid his uncle as a consultant.

◾ Jordan repeated an allegation that a Ukrainian business executive asked for Hunter Biden’s help to stymie that country's national prosecutor. Lowell called the allegation “false, recycled and debunked” because then-Vice President Joe Biden sought the removal of a corrupt prosecutor and to have a real prosecutor investigate allegations of corruption.

◾ Smith alleged that Hunter Biden was sitting next to his father on July 30, 2017, when he purportedly sent a text about a business transaction. Lowell said the Bidens were not seated together, Joe Biden was not in public office at the time and that Smith fabricated a screenshot of a text to illustrate the message from testimony from an Internal Revenue Service agent.

Lowell responded Tuesday by offering the testimony at an open hearing. He offered to appear on Dec. 13, when the closed-door deposition was scheduled, or another agreeable date this month.

"A public proceeding would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements," Lowell wrote.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden offers to testify at House hearing about foreign deals