In testimony, Hunter Biden calls GOP impeachment inquiry a 'charade' based on 'MAGA-motivated conspiracies'

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WASHINGTON — During a highly anticipated hourslong closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Hunter Biden and his legal team disputed claims by House Republicans that President Joe Biden was involved in his son's business dealings.

After the deposition, Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell said Republicans focused part of their questioning on his addiction, which the first family has openly discussed.

"It seems to me that the Republican members wanted to spend more time talking about my client's addiction than they could ask any question that had anything to do with what they call their impeachment inquiry," Lowell told reporters, adding that Biden's more than six hours of testimony did not produce evidence to support Republicans' claims.

The deposition was conducted by the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, two GOP-controlled panels that have been leading an impeachment inquiry into the president.

The deposition at times became "heated," and there were some "kerfuffles" between Republicans and Democrats regarding interruptions during lines of questioning, according to sources familiar with the deposition.

"I am here today to provide the Committees with the one uncontestable fact that should end the false premise of this inquiry: I did not involve my father in my business," Biden said in his prepared opening statement. "Not while I was a practicing lawyer, not in my investments or transactions domestic or international, not as a board member, and not as an artist. Never."

Hunter Biden Appears On Capitol Hill For Closed-Door Deposition With Republican Lawmakers (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)
Hunter Biden Appears On Capitol Hill For Closed-Door Deposition With Republican Lawmakers (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

In his opening remarks, Biden also sharply criticized the Republican-led inquiry as a "baseless and destructive political charade" based on "MAGA-motivated conspiracies."

"For more than a year, your committees have hunted me in your partisan political pursuit of my dad," he said. "You have trafficked in innuendo, distortion, and sensationalism — all the while ignoring the clear and convincing evidence staring you in the face. You do not have evidence to support the baseless and MAGA-motivated conspiracies about my father because there isn’t any."

Biden's attorneys were expected to enter his résumé as an exhibit into the record after his opening statement, according to a copy obtained by NBC News. A source close to his legal team said they would use the exhibit to make the point that Biden was qualified for the work he was doing during the period Republicans are focused on.

The first hour of Republican questioning was focused on China, according to sources familiar with the deposition.

After the deposition, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., said that the interview "proved several bits of our evidence” but that he also heard “contradictory statements that I think need further review” between Biden and some of his business associates.

He added that the next phase of the impeachment inquiry is a public hearing.

"I think that the public hearing hopefully will clear up some discrepancies between some of the statements that were made between some of the associates and what we heard today, but all in all, I’m very optimistic, very excited about this deposition," said Comer, who is leading the inquiry along with Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith, R-Mo.

Comer added that he looks forward to releasing transcripts from the deposition, "as soon as both sides agree to that," which he hopes will be in the next two to three days.

House Democrats who attended the interview said Biden's answers indicated that the president was not involved in his business.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said after the deposition that while he believed a public hearing would be "a waste of everybody's time," he would not object to it.

"We would have no objection to it because I suppose the whole country can see what an absurd waste of time this circus has been," said Raskin, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee.

After the deposition, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said he believed Biden “exhausted the Republicans” more than Republicans exhausted him.

“I saw cruelty, and in a lot of the ways the questions were asked I saw unnecessary delving into personal life matters that had nothing to do with anything being alleged," Swalwell said. "And he weathered it all. I just wished the public could have seen it."

In an earlier update to reporters during a break in the deposition, Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., called the first hour "the nail in the coffin to what is a completely bogus and sham impeachment inquiry." Goldman was Democrats' lead counsel during the first impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in 2019.

"Hunter Biden gave very detailed and clear explanations as to what his arm's-length business transactions were with private parties in foreign countries who are investors and businesspeople," Goldman said.

On the Republican side, Rep. Nancy Mace, of South Carolina, told reporters that the testimony is "bulls--- and a lie and stupid."

"This is not about Hunter Biden’s drug issues, which a lot of families deal with, and that’s sad and terrible and tragic, and I empathize with their family on that," she said. "This is about pay to play, this is about corruption, this is about selling access to the president of the United States."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked at Wednesday afternoon’s briefing whether the president was keeping tabs on his son's appearance before Congress. She said that she could not "speak to the president monitoring that" but that "obviously he was busy this morning."

Jean-Pierre added that Republicans' "stunt" has not uncovered evidence of any wrongdoing by the president.

"The core premise of their inquiry continues to fall apart," she said, saying that "House Republicans would be better off in helping American families."

Hunter Biden appeared a week after James Biden, the president's brother, told lawmakers that at no point during his 50-year business career was Joe Biden involved in his work.

Almost every witness who has testified before the committees has said the president was not involved in his family’s business dealings or has been unable to provide any evidence that his occasional casual encounters with Hunter Biden’s business partners included business discussions.

Comer challenged that testimony in a statement, saying the committees had found evidence to support his often-repeated claim that "Joe Biden was ‘the brand’ his family sold to enrich the Bidens."

Comer said the president "knew of, participated in, and benefited from these schemes. Joe Biden attended dinners, spoke on speakerphone, showed up to meetings, and had coffee with his son’s foreign business associates. In fact, we’ve documented how Joe Biden has met with nearly all of his son’s foreign business associates as they were collectively funneling millions to the Bidens."

While Republican sources on the Oversight Committee have previously described Biden's testimony as the "crescendo" of the House impeachment inquiry, Comer said it would not be the end of the investigation and promised more subpoenas and witnesses to come but provided no details about who they might be. He added that congressional investigators would "continue to follow the facts to inform legislative reforms to federal ethics laws and determine whether articles of impeachment are warranted.”

A Republican Oversight Committee source familiar with the preparations said that a transcript of Hunter Biden's deposition would be released “quickly” and that his lawyers would have an opportunity to review it beforehand. The source also said the probe would produce a report with legislative or other recommendations and possible criminal referrals "sometime in the next few months."

Republicans first issued a subpoena to Hunter Biden in early November, but through his lawyer, he chose not to comply with it for months. He said he would testify only at a public hearing because he felt he did not trust Republicans in a private setting.

After months of investigation, Republicans have not presented any evidence of wrongdoing by the president, and the White House and Democrats have repeatedly asserted that GOP lawmakers’ claims about him are false.

At the center of the impeachment effort is false information that came from former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, who was indicted this month and accused of feeding the bureau false information about Joe and Hunter Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Republicans, however, have shrugged off the news of the charges against Smirnov and are still pursuing their impeachment inquiry despite arguments from Democrats that the issue at the center of it was based on falsehoods.

Hunter Biden mentioned Smirnov in his opening statement, telling GOP lawmakers that Smirnov "has made you dupes in carrying out a Russian disinformation campaign waged against my father."

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com