Republicans pressure Hunter Biden to testify next week as House prepares to vote on formalizing impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden

In addition to a new federal indictment on tax charges, Hunter Biden is also embroiled in a fight with Republicans in Congress over their subpoena demanding that he appear for a deposition next week.

The House Oversight Committee informed Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, Tuesday that it would begin contempt of Congress proceedings against Biden if he does not comply with its subpoena to appear for a deposition on Wednesday,  Dec. 13.

Lowell told the committee that President Biden’s son had made a “choice” to testify only in an open hearing. Doing so, he said, would “ensure transparency” because “the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public.” As part of its brief response to Lowell, the committee pointed out that Hunter Biden did not have a “choice” in appearing for the deposition.

The pressure on Hunter Biden to be deposed is increasing as the GOP-led House prepares to vote next week on formalizing its impeachment inquiry of his father, President Biden. Should the House formalize its inquiry, the move could throw more legal weight behind subpoenas, as Republicans on the House Oversight, Ways and Means, and Judiciary Committees continue to seek documents and testimony. 

House Oversight Chairman James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, said Thursday that a formal impeachment inquiry “strengthens our hand when we go to court against this administration or anyone who refuses our subpoena.” 

Hunter Biden’s international business dealings have been the subject of both congressional and federal inquiries, and Republicans in Congress have been trying to show that President Biden was enriched by his the foreign business dealings of his son and his brother, James Biden, and that he accepted bribes, but they have produced no evidence that the president engaged in any wrongdoing. 

Even before the House began to move on a resolution on formalizing the inquiry, the committees have been able to compile a number of documents and conduct several depositions. 

Documents and testimony released by the House Ways and Means Committee Monday suggest that a California lawyer and ally of Hunter Biden, Kevin Morris, provided him with approximately $4.9 million. 

CBS News previously reported that under an arrangement between Morris and Hunter Biden, Morris paid Hunter Biden’s past-due tax debts. Morris has also been working on a documentary chronicling Hunter Biden’s life since he has been the focus of conservative TV commentators and investigated by congressional Republicans, according to a Democratic Party source in Washington.

One of the IRS whistleblowers who was investigating Hunter Biden, Joseph Ziegler, also said that the money was used to pay Hunter Biden’s taxes, and he told CBS News in an interview that one area of interest for him was whether that was in fact income that should have been subject to taxation, rather than a loan that would not be. 

“As we saw earlier with Burisma income, when Hunter Biden was earning that, … and then the payments came back to him, he booked those as a loan, and it was really income,” Ziegler said, in reference to the Ukrainian energy company that put Hunter Biden on its board while his father was vice president. Ziegler added that it could be part of “a pattern of using loans as an excuse to cover up what potentially could be income.”

Hunter Biden’s legal team has not yet responded to a request for comment about Ziegler’s allegations.

The federal investigation of Hunter Biden has been underway since 2019, led by Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who was named special counsel in the probe earlier this year. Weiss indicted Hunter Biden Thursday on nine counts of tax charges, alleging a scheme not to pay “at least $1.4 million” in federal income taxes for the years 2016 through 2019. During this period, Hunter Biden made over $7 million in total gross income, according to the indictment.

The two IRS whistleblowers who worked on the probe and testified before a congressional panel Monday, Ziegler and Gary Shapley, had expressed frustration with the pace of the investigation. They said they believed Weiss would “do the right thing” but wondered “where are those charges?”

After Weiss filed the indictment against Hunter Biden, in a joint statement to CBS News Thursday, the two whistleblowers called the indictment a “complete vindication of our thorough investigation.”

Months earlier, the two whistleblowers alleged in congressional depositions that the Justice Department had imposed constraints on the Hunter Biden tax investigation. Shapley said Weiss stated in an October 2022 meeting that he was not “the deciding person” on whether to bring charges against the president’s son. 

Weiss appeared before the House Judiciary Committee and refuted that allegation, asserting, “I am, and have been, the decision-maker on this case” and said he’d never been “blocked or otherwise prevented” from pursuing charges. 

Though they feel vindicated, two days before the indictment, Shapley and Ziegler told CBS News that making their story public has exacted a personal cost. 

“I’ve been asked that several times, and … I can’t put it into words,” Gary Shapley said in an interview Wednesday. “It is gonna affect me for the rest of my life — not in a positive way,” he added.

Joseph Ziegler agreed, and seemed to be near tears, when he said that “it’s had an effect on my life, my relationships.”

“My husband, his business — being attacked for standing up for — his husband who’s gay.” Ziegler said he had gone through depression and “isolation within the IRS,” where he still works. 

“I never thought that this would happen like this,” Ziegler said, “but … it’s definitely [had] an effect on me.”

Erica Brown contributed to this report.

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