US president’s son Hunter Biden to testify to Republicans’ impeachment probe

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 5:01 AM

By Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden on Wednesday will testify behind closed doors at the impeachment inquiry into his father, which House Republicans are pushing ahead with even after the person who provided accusations at the heart of their case was charged with lying to the FBI.

House of Representatives Republicans for months had sought the younger Biden’s testimony, requests that he first rebuffed and then belittled by making surprise public appearances at the Capitol.

The hearing, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT), comes just before the U.S. government will run out of money to keep all agencies open if Congress fails to act by week’s end.

Investigators are expected to ask Hunter Biden, 54, about his business activities, including his role with Chinese firm CEFC and on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

House Republicans have been probing the Biden family’s business dealings and have cited claims the former FBI informant made that he has now been charged with lying about, with prosecutors warning that he had contact with Russian intelligence agencies.

House Republicans allege that Biden, a Democrat, and his family improperly profited from policy decisions Biden participated in as vice president during President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009-17. So far they have not presented evidence to back up these claims.

Hunter Biden and the White House have denied wrongdoing and say the probe is politically motivated.

Donald Trump, who is the leading Republican candidate to take on Biden as both seek a second four-year term, has publicly encouraged the impeachment. Trump was the only U.S. president to be impeached twice, though he was acquitted both times by the Senate.

Most witnesses to testify to the inquiry have said the president was not involved nor had any direct or indirect financial interest in his family’s business activities.

“In every business venture in which I have been involved, I have relied on my own talent, judgment, skill, and personal relationships – and never my status as Joe Biden’s brother. Those who have said or thought otherwise were either mistaken, ill informed, or flat-out lying,” James Biden, the president’s brother, told lawmakers on Feb. 21.

Prosecutors have questioned the credibility of the former informant, Alexander Smirnov, who is now charged with lying to the FBI.

“He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November,” prosecutors wrote in a court document.

House Republicans downplayed the arrest and prosecution after it took place. House Democrats, meanwhile, said the arrest was proof the impeachment inquiry should be abandoned.

It is not clear when or if House Republicans will make a decision on whether to draft articles of impeachment against the president.

Hardline Republicans have publicly called for the impeachment of Biden and other Cabinet officials. Earlier this month, the House approved the impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s top border official, accusing him of failing to enforce border laws. The Senate has not yet taken it up.

Hunter Biden faces other legal challenges. Prosecutors have levied charges related to tax fraud and for illegally owning a firearm as a drug user. The younger Biden, who has spoken publicly about previous substance abuse issues, has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)