Hunter Biden testifies behind closed doors in Republican impeachment inquiry

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Hunter Biden is testifying today behind closed doors in the flailing Republican impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden.

For months, Hunter Biden said he would only testify in public in the probe, in order to avoid Republicans taking his words out of context in the way they then present it to the public.

The president’s son has only agreed after his attorneys negotiated several conditions that Republicans accepted.

While other witnesses, including Biden family members, have been filmed during their depositions, Hunter Biden will not be. A transcript, with sensitive information redacted, will also be released soon after the hearing, possibly within 24 hours, to counteract any selective leaks from the hearing.

The president’s son has faced an increase in attacks from congressional Republicans ever since the party took the House majority in January 2023, after narrowly winning the 2022 midterms.

Now, he’s appearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees – helmed by Rep Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep James Comer of Kentucky respectively.

Mr Comer has said that a public hearing will also take place after the deposition, but no plans have been made for such a hearing yet, CNN noted.

Hunter Biden’s interview is the most vital moment for the troubled probe so far as Republicans have failed to turn up any evidence that the president acted corruptly.

Even some House Republicans don’t believe the impeachment inquiry is the right thing to prioritise right now.

The probe has put much of its focus on Mr Biden’s foreign business dealings, attempting to find connections to the president via meetings where he allegedly met his son’s business associates – several of whom have testified that the president wasn’t involved in any of his family foreign business dealings.

The Independent reported this week that a convicted felon and notorious fraudster interviewed by House investigators as part of the probe became the latest in a growing string of witnesses to pour cold water on the claims of corruption.

Last week, the probe shifted its focus from Washington to Federal Prison Camp Montgomery in Alabama, where House investigators travelled to interview Jason Galanis, known there as Inmate 80739-198.

There, as The Independent previously reported, they sought to question him about business activities he had participated in with fellow convicted criminal Devon Archer – a former business partner of the president’s son.

A source familiar with the outcome of the transcribed interview told The Independent that the jailhouse interview turned up nothing in the way of incriminating evidence or testimony linking the president to his son’s activities.

James Biden, the younger brother of the president, also spent more than eight hours giving testimony on Capitol Hill last week.

He said in his opening statement that those who argued that he used his connection to his brother to boost his business ventures are “either mistaken, ill-informed, or flat-out lying”.

“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,” he said in the statement on Wednesday last week.

“I have nothing to hide. With my appearance here today, the Committees will have the information to conclude that the negative and destructive assumptions about me and my relationship with my brother Joe are wrong,” the 74-year-old added. “There is no basis for this inquiry to continue.”

The flailing impeachment inquiry has also been hit with a sizable setback in recent days, after former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov was charged with making up false claims that executives at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid $5m each in bribes to Mr Biden and the president.

Mr Smirnov, a dual US and Israeli citizen, appeared in federal court in Los Angeles on Monday after being transported to California from Las Vegas, Nevada.

A judge ordered him to remain in jail until his trial.

US President Joe Biden hugs his son Hunter Biden as they leave The Ivy restaurant in Los Angeles, California, February 4, 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden hugs his son Hunter Biden as they leave The Ivy restaurant in Los Angeles, California, February 4, 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

“There is nothing garden variety about this case,” Judge Otis Wright said on Monday, The APreported. “I have not changed my mind. The man will be remanded pending trial.”

His court hearing comes after he was arrested twice within a week, being detained by US Marshals on Thursday morning at his lawyer’s office in Las Vegas.

The hearing was called to determine if prosecutors were correct in arresting him just two days after he was released on an order from a magistrate judge, who required Mr Smirnov to hand over his passports and wear a monitoring device.

Hunter Biden recently spoke out about his sobriety and why it’s key to stopping Donald Trump from returning to the White House.

Meanwhile, the president has said in private that Republicans’ attacks on his son, as well as the criminal charges against Hunter Biden, are putting a strain on his family and could prompt his son to relapse, noting his family struggles with addiction, Axios reported.

Hunter Biden told the outlet that he views his sobriety as important in his private life and in keeping Mr Trump from winning the 2024 election.

“Most importantly, you have to believe that you’re worth the work, or you’ll never be able to get sober. But I often do think of the profound consequences of failure here,” Mr Biden told the outlet.

“Maybe it’s the ultimate test for a recovering addict, I don’t know,” he said. “I have always been in awe of people who have stayed clean and sober through tragedies and obstacles few people ever face. They are my heroes, my inspiration.

“I have something much bigger than even myself at stake. We are in the middle of a fight for the future of democracy.”