Why Hunter Biden offered to testify in House probe, and why Republicans said no

Biden said he would testify in the House GOP's impeachment inquiry, but not behind closed doors

Reps. Jamie Raskin and James Comer
Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and James Comer (R-Ky.) at Biden impeachment hearing
(Image credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Hunter Biden offered Tuesday to testify publicly in the House Republican impeachment inquiry targeting his father, President Joe Biden. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who is overseeing that nebulous investigation as chair of the House Oversight Committee, rejected Biden's offer, saying Republicans expect him to testify behind closed doors on Dec. 13, as demanded in a Nov. 8 subpoena. "Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules," Comer wrote. "That won't stand with House Republicans." He added that Biden can "testify in a public setting" after the deposition. 

Biden's offer came in a blistering three-page letter from his lawyer, Abbe Lowell. "We have seen you use closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public," Lowell told Comer. "If, as you claim, your efforts are important and involve issues that Americans should know about, then let the light shine on these proceedings." He quoted Comer publicly inviting Biden to "come in front of the committee" anytime, and accused him of manipulating "Hunter's legitimate business dealings and his times of terrible addiction into a politically motivated basis for hearings to accuse his father of some wrongdoing."

Public testimony by Hunter Biden would be a "dramatic and high-profile showdown carrying risks for both sides," The Washington Post reported. Biden is not only the central figure in House Republicans' so-far-fruitless efforts to tie President Biden to questionable private business dealings by his son and brother; he's also fighting federal gun charges. Hunter Biden's offer to testify publicly is part of an aggressive counterpunch strategy that started when he hired Lowell last year, Politico reported Tuesday and Politico's Jonathan Lemire recapped on MSNBC.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

House panels do typically "insist on a private deposition before allowing a public appearance," Politico reported. "The Jan. 6 select committee denied several requests to testify publicly, including one from Rudy Giuliani." 

But Democrats noted pointedly that Comer's only public Biden impeachment hearing so far didn't go well for him. "The reason GOP don't want a public hearing on Hunter Biden," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote, is that "they're scared of getting humiliated for not having an actual case (again), so they need to hide."

The top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin (R-Md.), called the GOP's rejection of Biden's offer to testify publicly "a frank confession that they are simply not interested in the facts and have no confidence in their own case."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.