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Hunter Biden willing to testify before House committee if hearing is public

<span>Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP</span>
Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP

Hunter Biden’s lawyers have told a Republican-led congressional committee that he is prepared to be questioned at his father Joe Biden’s impeachment inquiry next month – but the Democratic president’s son will only appear before lawmakers if the hearings are held in public.

The conditional agreement to appear before the House oversight committee comes after committee chairman James Comer issued a subpoena to depose Hunter Biden, his former business associate Rob Walker, and the president’s brother James Biden earlier in the month.

“We have seen you use closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public,” Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell wrote in a letter to Comer.

Lowell added: “We therefore propose opening the door. If, as you claim, your efforts are important and involve issues that Americans should know about, then let the light shine on these proceedings.”

The subpoenas demanding depositions from the three men come in addition to requests for transcribed interviews with Hunter Biden’s wife, Melissa Cohen; his brother’s widow Hallie Biden and her sister; James Biden’s wife, Sara; Elizabeth Secundy, the older sister of Hallie Biden; and Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden.

In the response to the committee’s subpoena, Lowell accused Comer of letting the investigation drag on. “Your empty investigation has gone on too long wasting too many better-used resources. It should come to an end,” Lowell wrote.

“Consequently, Mr Biden will appear at such a public hearing on the date you noticed, [13 December], or any date in December that we can arrange.”

Hunter Biden’s agreement to testify appears to mark a change in legal strategy. After deal to pleaded guilty to weapons and tax charges dramatically collapsed in July when a broad immunity deal was rejected by a Delaware judge, the president’s son has taken a tougher legal approach.

In August, Aattorney General Merrick Garland appointed the same prosecutor who had made the collapsed Delaware immunity deal, David Weiss, as special counsel to bring charges against Hunter Biden.

Weeks later, a federal grand jury indictment was brought against Hunter Biden on three gun-related charges, including illegally owning a firearm as a drug user and lying on a form when he allegedly bought the gun. If convicted, Biden could face up to 25 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. But such sentences and penalties are not typical.

Many Republicans felt that Weiss was giving Hunter Biden a pass on potential foreign lobbying and campaign finance violations and are now gambling that an ongoing justice department investigation into his affairs – coupled with their own House investigation into his business affairs, including serving on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company – will in turn squeeze his father going into the 2024 election.

But Hunter Biden, with a new legal team, is hitting back. He has sued former New York mayor and Donald Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani for allegedly hacking and distributing data from Biden’s infamous laptop. He also sued the Internal Revenue Service for allegedly failing to keep his tax information from becoming public and sued a businessman for suggesting he had solicited a bribe from Iran.

Earlier in November, Hunter Biden’s legal team went further – alleging that the gun charges against the first son may represent a “vindictive or selective prosecution”. And they are attempting to subpoena Trump, the Trump White House’s former attorney general Bill Barr and other justice officials to help expose – as his lawyers argue – a “sustained, almost-nonstop public pressure campaign” against him.