Hunter Biden has agreed to testify before a Republican House committee – on one condition.
It has to be in public.
No way does the president’s son want a closed-door appearance in which the GOP can selectively leak the worst moments.
I’m not sure this is the smartest strategy–and neither, apparently, do many in the White House. It shines a very bright spotlight on his history of legal problems and drug problems just when his dad is gearing up his reelection campaign.
And yet Jim Comer, chairman of the Oversight committee, is turning him down. The subpoena is for a deposition. Oh, but the panel would be happy to have him publicly testify at some point in the future. Hunter is “trying to play by his own rules,” Comer says.
So we have a standoff. I think the average person would think Hunter’s lawyer has offered him up on a silver platter, and why shouldn’t the public be able to watch the spectacle?
The younger Biden may not have much choice, since the committee has subpoenaed him. If he fights the subpoena, it looks like he has something to hide.
But it wasn’t so long ago that House members such as Mark Meadows, later Donald Trump’s chief of staff, were blowing off subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee, and only a couple of people were pursued by the Justice Department.
The counter-move by Hunter Biden is part of a broader, more aggressive strategy by the man at the center of the House impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. He has issued tough statements, filed lawsuits and even tried to subpoena Trump. Earlier this month Hunter argued in a USA Today op-ed that his addiction was being weaponized against him and that this must be dispiriting for all drug abusers.
Since a lenient plea bargain fell apart, a special counsel has produced an indictment of Biden on gun-related charges, and at least one more indictment on tax charges is widely expected.
Politico reports that “some White House staff are ‘irritated that he’s being more aggressive, because he is not clearing the tactics and the strategy,” according to a former 2020 campaign aide.
Some in the inner circle worry “that Hunter Biden’s courtroom counterpunching only brightens the spotlight on his legal entanglements, foreign business activities, and personal struggle with drug addiction. For these aides, too much engagement with opponents, including Rudy Giuliani and the conservative media, risks legitimizing their most extreme attacks on the president’s family.”
Yeah, I see where that could be a problem. His dad is already suffering from abysmal poll numbers.
But there is another faction, as there always is. These mostly unnamed advisers say that in the 21st century, “it’s reckless to leave allegations unrebutted. For this camp, there was something to learn from Trump’s scandal playbook: It pays to talk loud, move fast and punch hard.”
Following the Trump playbook: will wonders never cease?
Hunter Biden is obviously an albatross around the neck of his father, who tried so hard to get him to wean himself from crack and other drugs. He is said to keep his dad informed of his legal moves, which filters down to his team. But at that point, it would be highly unethical for the president to do anything other than let his son make his own decisions. The elder Biden has, after all, pledged not to get involved in his son’s legal affairs, and he should regard the case–including the criminal charges being pursued by his own DOJ – as radioactive.
Ever since the infamous laptop emerged in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign – largely ignored by the mainstream press for another year and a half – Hunter has been the face of scandal. Emails from that computer show Hunter was well aware that his services were sought overseas because of his last name. And Joe Biden, then vice president, joined some calls and at least two restaurant meals with Hunter’s business partners, even if he stuck to pleasantries. It was a clear demonstration of Hunter’s clout.
More recently, Hunter has sued Rudy Giuliani for allegedly hacking his computer, and sued the IRS for making his personal tax information public. His uber-aggressive lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a court filing that the gun charges against his client – essentially lying about using drugs to buy the gun – was a vindictive act that amounted to selective prosecution.
But despite plenty of innuendo, Comer’s committee has been unable to prove that Joe Biden received a dime from Hunter’s unethical buckraking work for Ukrainian energy giant Burisma or for China.
When the president’s brother James Biden, who has also been subpoenaed, paid Joe $200,000 in 2018, the panel tried to frame this as illicit money coming from China. But the Biden team described it as repayment of a personal loan.
Hunter Biden clearly wants the spotlight to let the public see his version of events. We’ll find out soon enough whether that’s the wisest course of action.