A television reporter in the hearing room when R. Hunter Biden shocked Republicans during the Jan. 10 when they were marking up the House Oversight Committee’s resolution holding Biden in contempt of Congress said Rep. Nancy Mace (R.-S.C.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R.-Ga.) rose to the attack in response the unscheduled appearance–apparently coordinated with committee Democrats.
Biden, President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s surviving son, is accused of refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoena demanding he testify behind closed doors.
My RedState colleague Nick Arama reported on the chaos in the room in his article, “WATCH: Chaos As Hunter Shows Up at House Contempt Hearing, Flees After Getting Blasted by Mace and MTG.”
The Washington bureau chief for One America News told RedState R. Hunter Biden burst into the House Oversight Committee’s Rayburn House Office Building markup hearing, and it took a while for Chairman James Comer (R.-Ky.) to retake control of the moment.
“I was at the Capitol at 8:30 this morning and was at the House Republican Conference meeting and then walked over to the Oversight hearing room,” said John Hines, who has covered Capitol Hill for OAN for the last eight years.
Hines, who also hosts the network’s “Weekly Briefing” program, said he was expecting a mundane markup of the resolution holding Hunter Biden in contempt with a few Democratic amendments.
“Everybody knew what was going to happen, and obviously, the Republicans had the votes, so it seemed like it would be sort of a perfunctory hearing with not a lot of drama,” he said.
“I had no clue that Hunter Biden was showing up,” he said. “I guess we’re about 10 minutes into the markup, and Hunter Biden came walking in the door of the hearing room with his coterie of security personnel, a number of guys with those earpieces in their ears.”
The Notre Dame graduate, whose first job after South Bend, Indiana, was as a Capitol Hill press secretary, said at first he only caught sight of Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, then he saw Biden along with his friend and benefactor Kevin Morris.
Also in the Biden entourage was a film crew, who were positioned to tape the three men and the committee members, presumably for the documentary Morris is financing of his beneficiary’s struggles.
Hines said they walked into Rayburn Room 2154 as a team.
“They were sort of flanking him as he walked in and took a seat in the front row of the hearing room and basically folded his arms and sort of scowled at everybody,” he said.
“I think it took a moment or two for members of the committee to realize what had happened, so I don’t think they noticed who he was right away, and so they were kind of continuing the hearing,” he said.
The Oregon native said none of the Republicans were expecting Biden, but some of the Democrats seemed to know he was coming.
“Well, Dan Goldman, Jamie Raskin, and Jared Moskowitz, they seemed to know what was coming, and Moskowitz even had poster boards ready to go,” he said.
“Things got a little bit rocky. I’m not sure if somehow other lawmakers started to protest or started to speak,” Hines said.
“It seemed like there was a free-for-all all for a while there, probably for several seconds,” he said. “It took a while for the chairman to get control of the markup and he had to pound the gavel to gavel the hearing back to order,” he said.
Hines: Mace, Greene lay into ‘coward’ Biden
“After maybe several seconds or a minute or so, people kind of figured out that Hunter Biden was there, and by that time, Comer had handed off to Nancy Mace from South Carolina,” he said.
“She was very visibly angry,” he said. “She was the one who started to lay into Hunter Biden and said that he was a spineless gutless person who didn’t have the courage to come and testify under oath during their deposition phase.” The deposition phase is the closed-door hearing.
“Nancy Mace was kind of articulating what a lot of the Republicans felt. She had the first shot at speaking to him, and she used some very earthy, salty language,” he said.
Although Hunter was sitting in the gallery, Mace addressed him directly.
The American people want to know, what is Hunter Biden so afraid of? pic.twitter.com/iA1yb3QGfr
— Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) January 10, 2024
My RedState colleague Bonchie had his own take on Mace’s performance: Nancy Mace Misses the Mark During Hunter Biden Contempt Hearing.
“The question the American people are asking us is, what is Hunter Biden so afraid of? Why can’t you show up for a congressional deposition?” Mace asked.
She answered her own question.
“You’re here for a political stunt,” she said. “This is just a PR stunt to you. This is just a game that you are playing with the American people. You’re playing with the truth.”
Mace said there were some things of which he was not afraid.
“Hunter Biden wasn’t afraid to sell access to Joe Biden to the highest bidder when he was in elected office,” he said.
“He wasn’t afraid to trade on the Biden brand petal influence and share those Ill-gotten gains with members of his family, including Joe Biden,” she said.
“He wasn’t afraid to compromise the integrity of the presidency and vice presidency by involving Joe Biden Shady business deals with our foreign adversaries,” the first woman to graduate from the Citadel said. “But Hunter Biden, you were too afraid to show up for a deposition, and you still can’t.”
After the South Carolina Republican was finished, Comer recognized Moskowitz and the Florida Democrat promised to vote to hold Biden in contempt of Congress if the Republicans agreed to also hold in contempt House Republicans who defied subpoenas from last session’s House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
After Moskowitz, Comer called upon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R.-Ga.), but before she spoke, Biden, Lowell, and Morris stood up and walked out — along with the videographers and most of the reporters in the room.
“Excuse me, Hunter; apparently, you’re afraid of my words,” Greene called out to the president’s son as he left the hearing room.
Greene quickly recovered.
“Wow, that’s too bad. I think it’s clear and obvious for everyone watching this hearing today that Hunter Biden is terrified of strong conservative Republican women,” she said. “He can’t even face my words as I was about to speak to him. What a coward.”
Hines: Biden’s appearance was not a win for him, his father
The OAN bureau chief said Biden’s appearance and demeanor were bizarre.
“He was there for maybe all of 15 minutes,” he said.
“He was there with folded arms and scowling until it was Marjorie Taylor Green’s turn to question him—and then he was gone, just like the wind, he came and went like the wind,” Hines said.
“It was a circus in the hallway, and Abbe Lowell, of course, made a statement. Hunter did not speak to the media. I didn’t ask any questions, and he didn’t make any statements,” he said.
“But it is puzzling because it’s hard to figure out why. I mean, it’s a head-scratcher, it seems to me, because what does he get out of it?” he asked.
“He’s now made the headlines in this was an extremely prominent display of literal public contempt for the Committee of Inquiry into Impeachment, the Oversight Committee,” he said.
“It was a brazen display of that literal public contempt of the Congress,” Hines said.
Attorney General Garland has a responsibility to prosecute Hunter Biden.
Failure to do so will reveal his contempt of Congress. pic.twitter.com/Gc3OSc53Le
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) January 10, 2024
“If you are Merrick Garland, the attorney general, and you are obliged to enforce a contempt citation from Congress, it’s very hard to ignore this because it is so blatant,” he said.
“It’s sticking the middle finger to Congress and literally holding them in contempt and sort of waving a bloody shirt in front of them,” he said.
Committee votes to hold Biden in contempt of Congress
At issue was Biden’s resistance to sitting down for closed-door testimony. Biden and his attorney, Lowell, have repeatedly said the president’s son would gladly testify in a public hearing — a position he first announced at a Dec. 13 press conference by the Capitol’s East Portico.
Then, the lawyer, who tattooed New York’s Finger Lakes on his back in honor of his late mother’s home region, said he was ready to answer the questions put to him by Comer and the rest of the committee.
Here I am, Mr. Chairman, taking up your offer when you said we can bring these people in for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose. Well, I’ve chosen. I’m here to testify in a public hearing today to answer any of the committee’s legitimate questions.
The word legitimate is doing a lot of lifting there, but the real problem for Biden is that in the closed-door hearings, the First Son would be subjected to extended questioning under oath for blocks of an hour or 30 minutes.
In public hearings, a witness answers questions from Republicans and Democrats in alternating five-minute slots, which in practice makes it impossible to pin down a witness because as soon as a Republican or a Democrat congressman starts to make progress, their time is up.
In the closed-door hearings, there is no such relief and no escape.
The committee’s resolution passed after Biden and his entourage left the building, and it reiterated that a public hearing was possible, but only after the closed-doored hearing:
In no uncertain terms, Mr. Biden has no valid reason for failing to comply with the Committees’ duly authorized subpoenas. Conversely, the Committees’ need for Mr. Biden’s testimony is well-established pursuant to Congress’s constitutionally prescribed legislative and impeachment functions. By flagrantly defying the Committees’ subpoenas, Mr. Biden has violated federal law.
If the resolution passes the House, it becomes a formal criminal referral to the Justice Department:
Mr. Biden’s willful refusal to comply with the Committees’ subpoenas constitutes contempt of Congress and warrants referral to the appropriate United States Attorney’s Office for prosecution as prescribed by law.