House Republicans set date for public testimony from Hunter Biden

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WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House Oversight Committee said Wednesday that Hunter Biden has been invited to testify publicly this month at a hearing focused on the GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

It was not immediately clear whether the president’s son had agreed to appear at the March 20 hearing. Sources told NBC News this week that as of Monday the two sides had not discussed a possible date for public testimony.

A representative for Hunter Biden’s legal team said Wednesday that they would respond in writing to the committee’s invitation.

Rep. James Comer, the Oversight Committee chair, said in a statement Wednesday that given the president’s son’s “repeated calls for a public hearing, I fully expect Hunter Biden to appear for a scheduled Oversight Committee hearing on March 20, alongside Biden family business associates.”

The hearing will “examine inconsistencies among the witnesses’ testimonies in order to get the truth for the American people,” Comer, R-Ky., said.

The committee also invited Devon Archer, Jason Galanis and Tony Bobulinski — all former business associates of Hunter Biden — to testify on March 20.

When Hunter Biden, 54, provided testimony last week at a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill, he repeatedly denied that his father had any involvement with his business dealings.

“My father has never been involved in my business. I have never asked my father to be involved in my business. My father has never benefited from my business, and I have never asked anyone — or my father — to do anything for the benefit of anyone I’ve ever done business for,” he said, according to a transcript of the deposition.

Biden also testified that his relationship with Bobulinski ended poorly when he backed out of doing a business deal with him. He called Bobulinski an “incompetent and an idiot,” and a “bitter, bitter man.”

Bobulinski told the committee at his own deposition last month that the only reason Hunter Biden was able to make millions from a variety of foreign sources was because his father was vice president at the time.

Republicans have also pointed to testimony from Archer, another former business partner, who testified that Biden put his father on speakerphone approximately 20 times while they were with business associates.

“He can’t recall the specific times that I put my dad on speakerphone when I was at a dinner or at a social event, so that means, over the course of 10 years, twice a year, my dad would call me, and I would be in the middle of a dinner, and I always answer his call. I always answer his call, based upon my life’s experience,” Biden told the committees last month, citing his father’s loss of his first wife and two of his children.

Galanis, another one of the invited witnesses, will almost certainly not attend in person — he is serving a 14-year prison sentence for two multimillion-dollar fraud schemes. The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry conducted an interview with him on Feb. 23 from the federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama.

Archer was convicted in connection with one of Galanis’ schemes, and sentenced to just over a year in prison. He lost his appeal of the conviction to the Supreme Court in January but has yet to begin serving his sentence while the judge in the case weighs his request to reconsider the length of his sentence.

The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, ripped the GOP’s lineup of witnesses for the upcoming hearing.

“It seems Chairman Comer has decided his best witnesses now include a federally incarceratedserial fraudster’ and a bitterly frustrated would-be business partner who collaborated with the Trump campaign,” Raskin said in a statement that included links to news articles about Galanis and Bobulinski. “Unfortunately for Chairman Comer, even these dubious witnesses have already testified that they have no evidence that Joe Biden took any official actions to benefit Hunter Biden’s business ventures.”

“In their last hearing, I urged them to fold up the circus tent, but they just came back with a three-ring circus instead,” he said.

A source familiar with Hunter Biden’s legal strategy said the move comes as “Comer is desperate to keep alive an impeachment inquiry that died when Hunter Biden testified for almost 7 hours last week.”

The impeachment inquiry took a major hit last month when an FBI informant whose claims of Biden family corruption Comer and other top Republicans had repeatedly touted was charged with lying about those allegations. Alexander Smirnov, according to prosecutors with special counsel David Weiss’ office, “provided false derogatory information to the FBI” about the Bidens, including the false allegation that officials with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that employed Hunter Biden, had paid the father and son $5 million.

Biden’s closed-door testimony on Feb. 28 came after months of a heated back and forth with the committee. He initially said he would only be willing to testify at a public hearing, citing concerns that Republicans might take portions of his testimony out of context.

GOP lawmakers rejected his offer to testify publicly, and Biden defied a subpoena for closed-door testimony, instead holding a news conference outside the Capitol in December.

House Republicans then pushed for a resolution to hold him in contempt of Congress. Biden relented after GOP lawmakers issued new subpoenas after formally announcing an impeachment inquiry.

Asked at his Feb. 28 deposition if he thought Archer, Bobulinski and Galanis had any expectation that his father could be involved in their business dealings, Hunter Biden responded: “Not an expectation from me. And I think that you’d see in my communications to them, there was never a single time that I can remember in which I say, ‘Hey, we’ll get my dad involved,’ ‘Hey, let’s get my dad on the phone,’ ‘Hey, you know, let’s — you know, what can we get from my dad out of this?’”

Rebecca Kaplan and Sarah Fitzpatrick reported from Washington, and Dareh Gregorian reported from New York.

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