The latest on Hunter Biden’s legal issues after defamation suit filing, House GOP subpoena

James Biden, the president’s brother, has also been called to appear for a deposition.

President Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves court in Wilmington, Del., July 26.
President Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves court in Wilmington, Del., July 26. (Julio Cortez/AP) (AP)

Hunter Biden was subpoenaed by Congress this week as his legal troubles continue to intertwine with a Republican investigation hoping to tie his business dealings to his father, President Biden.

Additionally, Hunter Biden filed a defamation suit against former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne on Thursday. Byrne is being accused of publishing false statements about Biden seeking a bribe from Iran, including attempts to tie the president’s son to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

House Republicans’ investigation

The Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee issued subpoenas for Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden. Chairman James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, is also seeking transcribed interviews with Sara Biden (James Biden’s wife), Melissa Cohen (Hunter Biden’s wife), Hallie Biden (the widow of Beau Biden, the president’s other son), Elizabeth Secundy (Hallie Biden's sister) and Tony Bobulinski (a former business associate of Hunter Biden's who has accused the Bidens of wrongdoing while being accused by Hunter's legal team of lying to the FBI).

In September, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced that the House would begin an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, doing so without a vote after previously saying there would be one before an investigation moved forward. While Republicans have consistently said the president is tied to his son's entanglements with foreign governments, they have yet to provide any evidence to support this. Former President Donald Trump, facing a litany of his own legal issues, has privately encouraged the inquiry.

The subpoenas came after special counsel David Weiss testified for seven hours in front of the House Judiciary Committee after pressure from Republicans. Weiss was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in August to lead the Hunter Biden probe. Comer had previously subpoenaed bank records for both Hunter and James Biden.

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Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, criticized the most recent actions, saying in a statement that “These subpoenas and interview requests are yet further proof that this sham impeachment inquiry is driven only by the demands of the vengeful and prevaricating Donald Trump.”

U.S. Attorney David Weiss leaves an interview with members of the House Judiciary Committee.
U.S. Attorney David Weiss leaves an interview with members of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. The special counsel overseeing the Hunter Biden investigation is testifying behind closed doors as a GOP probe into the Justice Department's handling of the case continues to unfold. (Jose Luis Magana/AP) (AP)

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell released a statement calling the latest round of subpoenas “yet another political stunt” and said the investigation has been full of “worn-out, false, baseless, or debunked claims” but added that “Hunter is eager to have the opportunity, in a public forum and at the right time, to discuss these matters with the Committee.”

Republicans held a public impeachment inquiry hearing in late September, but the witnesses they called provided no evidence that President Biden had committed any wrongdoing and said they didn’t see any impeachable offenses by the elder Biden at that point. During the hearing, Raskin said, “If the Republicans had a smoking gun or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it today.”

Earlier this week, Lowell sent a letter to new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, urging him to curb the investigation, writing that “Even in the era of ‘alternative facts,’ your colleagues’ manipulation and disregard for the truth is breathtaking.” A staffer for Johnson told USA Today that the investigations would continue.

In an op-ed for USA Today last week, Hunter Biden wrote, “My struggles and my mistakes have been fodder for a vile and sustained disinformation campaign against [President Biden], and an all-out annihilation of my reputation through high-pitched but fruitless congressional investigations.” Biden noted an Axios study that found Fox News had covered him twice as much as Florida governor and Republican presidential challenger Ron DeSantis this year.

Hunter Biden’s other legal troubles and dealings

President Biden and his son Hunter Biden leave Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Johns Island, S.C., after attending Mass.
President Biden and his son Hunter Biden leave Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Johns Island, S.C., after attending Mass, Aug. 13, 2022. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP) (AP)

In September, Weiss announced that Hunter Biden was being indicted on three charges related to purchasing a firearm in 2018, two related to false statements he allegedly made while buying the revolver and a third for illegal possession of a firearm while addicted to drugs. Biden stated that he was not using any unlawful drugs at the time of the purchase but has since admitted he was addicted to crack cocaine during that period.

The three charges carry a combined maximum prison sentence of 25 years. In his USA Today op-ed last week, Biden said that the charges “appear to be the first-ever of their kind brought in the history of Delaware.”

The Justice Department has spent years looking into the younger Biden's business dealings and drug use. In June, he struck a deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware, agreeing to plead guilty to a pair of tax-related misdemeanors in a deal that would have required him to acknowledge his failure to pay income taxes in 2017 and 2018 in exchange for probation. That deal fell apart during a court hearing in July after Judge Maryellen Noreika expressed concern over the structure of the agreement, which Republican critics had called a sweetheart deal for the president's son.

In addition to the lawsuit against Byrne, Hunter Biden has also filed lawsuits against Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler for their roles in allegedly hacking his laptop, as well as the Internal Revenue Service for the sharing of his personal information.