Image: Hunter Biden walks with wife Melissa Cohen

Hunter Biden’s team weighs House subpoena as James Biden cooperates with GOP panel

WASHINGTON — The legal team advising President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden is weighing how to respond to a subpoena issued by the Republican-led House Oversight Committee.

Hunter Biden was issued the subpoena in early November and summoned to appear for a closed-door transcribed interview on Dec. 13. According to two sources familiar with the committee’s work, Hunter Biden’s legal team has yet to respond to the subpoena beyond confirming its receipt.

The silence from Hunter Biden’s team comes as legal representatives for the president’s brother James have been in communication with the committee, the same two sources said. The committee has asked James Biden to appear for an interview with the panel on Dec. 6.

It is customary for the legal teams of congressional witnesses to negotiate the parameters of an appearance with committee staff. Either Biden could choose to plead the Fifth if he were to appear, ask for the hearing to be held in a public forum or fight the request in court.

At this point, Hunter Biden’s legal team has not offered any insight into how he plans to respond. In addition to his obligation to answer a congressional subpoena, Hunter Biden and his legal team must consider his legal exposure. He is currently under indictment on gun charges brought by special counsel David Weiss and has pleaded not guilty. Additional tax charges could also be handed down, and anything Hunter Biden testified to in a congressional hearing would be admissible in criminal trial.

Abbe Lowell, the lead attorney representing Hunter Biden, declined to comment on the status of the committee’s subpoena. Representatives for James Biden declined to comment.

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Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., issued the subpoenas, which focus on the Biden family’s business dealings, after requesting thousands of bank records connected to Hunter and James Biden, other members of their family, and several business associates.

One of the sources said that the committee is working expeditiously to solidify both depositions and that Comer expects full compliance with the lawful subpoenas and looks forward to their testimony in December.

In addition to subpoenas for Hunter and James Biden, the Oversight Committee has sent subpoenas and requests for interviews to a long list of members of the Biden family and their business associates as part of its wide-ranging impeachment inquiry into the president. Among the associates called to testify is Rob Walker. According to a committee source, Walker’s attorney is in communication with the committee about scheduling a date for him to appear. Comer has called Walker a “key witness” in their investigation.

Walker has already met with the FBI and testified during a December 2020 interview that Joe Biden was “never … part of anything we were doing.”

The White House has challenged the legitimacy of the subpoena requests by the committee. White House counsel Richard Sauber sent a letter to Comer and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, calling the subpoena requests an attempt by the House GOP to improperly weaponize the powers of Congress.

Joe Costello, spokesperson for Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, echoed that point, saying in a statement that Comer “continues to abuse the Committee’s authority.”

“At every turn, the evidence, including thousands of pages of records and dozens of hours of witness interviews and testimony, has completely debunked Republicans’ false claims and shown that President Biden has committed no wrongdoing, much less an impeachable offense,” he said.

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In a statement to NBC News, Comer made it clear his committee would enforce its subpoena requests.

“We now are going to question members of the Biden family and their associates about this record of evidence,” Comer said. “We expect full compliance with our lawfully issued subpoenas to provide the transparency and accountability that the American people deserve.”

Ryan Nobles

Ryan Nobles is a correspondent covering Capitol Hill.

Sarah Fitzpatrick

Sarah Fitzpatrick is a senior investigative producer and story editor for NBC News. She previously worked for CBS News and “60 Minutes.”