US House Republicans move to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress

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House Republicans have recommended holding President Joe Biden’s son Hunter in contempt of US Congress, an admonishment for defying their subpoena to privately testify before their impeachment inquiry.

Republicans on the judiciary committee voted on Wednesday to send a contempt resolution to the House floor. Their colleagues on the House oversight committee are expected to follow suit.

The panel vote followed a chaotic day on Capitol Hill, as Hunter Biden’s appearance before an oversight hearing quickly descended into chaos.

James Comer, the top Republican on the House oversight panel, tried to keep the proceedings focused on the Republican’s main allegations: that the Biden family and their “associates” improperly earned millions from countries such as China and Russia while Joe Biden was vice-president.

But Hunter Biden’s decision to attend the hearing in person was a surprise — and prompted an onslaught of personal attacks by Republicans in the chamber.

“​​You are the epitome of white privilege, coming into the oversight committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed,” said South Carolina Republican Nancy Mace. “What are you afraid of? You have no balls to come up here.”

“I think that Hunter Biden should be arrested right here, right now and go straight to jail,” she later added.

Some Democrats tried to halt the barrage, prompting Republican Andy Biggs to tell them: “I think you should have decorum and courtesy — and don’t act like a bunch of nimrods.”

Hunter Biden promptly walked out of the hearing room when Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican and ally of Donald Trump, took her turn to speak. “What a coward,” said Greene.

Later, Greene attempted to enter unverified evidence from Hunter Biden’s laptop into the congressional record. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the panel, replied that she could not show pornography. The hearing was briefly suspended, as staff conferred.

Democrats on the panel said that the impeachment inquiry by Republicans was an effort to hurt the president and elect Trump again in November.

Democrats have also attacked Trump on similar grounds, including recently publishing a report alleging that Saudi Arabia, China and other foreign governments spent at least $7.8mn at Trump-owned properties while he was president.

Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, said in a statement that the president’s son had repeatedly offered to work with the House panel and that Republicans had used private testimony to “selectively leak and mischaracterise” witnesses in the past.

“Hunter Biden was and is a private citizen,” said Lowell. “Despite this, Republicans have sought to use him as a surrogate to attack his father.”

“Republican chairs have today commandeered an unprecedented resolution to hold someone in contempt who has offered to publicly answer all their proper questions,” Lowell added. “What are they afraid of?”

Hunter Biden is also due to appear in a Los Angeles court on Thursday for an arraignment on tax charges.

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