WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives committees on Wednesday will hold initial procedural votes on whether to push ahead with an effort to hold Democratic President Joe Biden‘s son Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress.
The moves by the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee are the latest salvos in House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into the president. House Republicans allege that Biden and his family improperly profited from policy actions Biden participated in when he was vice president in 2009-2017. The White House and Hunter Biden deny wrongdoing.
The House Oversight Committee had issued a subpoena for Hunter Biden to appear for a closed-door deposition on Dec. 13 as part of the inquiry. Hunter Biden said he would be willing to testify publicly, but the panel rebuffed that offer, saying he needed to submit to a private deposition in addition to any public testimony.
On the day the deposition was scheduled, Hunter Biden appeared outside the Capitol and made public remarks, but did not appear for the closed-door interview.
“Mr. Biden’s flagrant defiance of the Committees’ deposition subpoenas – while choosing to appear nearby on the Capitol grounds to read a prepared statement on the same matters – is contemptuous, and he must be held accountable,” the report reads.
The full House generally holds a vote to direct the certification of contempt to a U.S. attorney after a committee holds its vote, according to the Congressional Research Service. Enforcement of contempt statutes issued by Congress is generally done by the Justice Department.
According to the CRS, the House has held 10 people in contempt of Congress since 2008, but the Justice Department has sought the indictment of only two: Stephen Bannon and Peter Navarro, advisers to Republican former President Donald Trump.
Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison, though he appealed. Navarro was convicted in September 2023.
There is no record of a sitting president’s family member being held in contempt of Congress, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service that includes contempt resolutions dating back to 1980.
Contempt of Congress is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for one to 12 months.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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