Takeaways from Hunter Biden’s closed-door deposition with House Republicans

Hunter Biden went directly after the Republicans who have pursued him in their impeachment investigation over the past year, accusing GOP lawmakers in his closed-door deposition on Wednesday of peddling “baseless and MAGA-motivated conspiracies about my father.”

Kicking off his highly anticipated testimony, President Joe Biden’s son delivered an opening statement that defended his father and attacked the Republican-led impeachment inquiry, issuing a defiant message ahead of hours of interrogation.

“For more than a year, your committees have hunted me in your partisan political pursuit of my dad,” Hunter Biden said, according to a copy of his opening statement. “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.”

Hunter Biden arrived at 10 a.m. ET for his closed-door deposition before the House Oversight and Judiciary committees. It wrapped shortly after 4:30 p.m. ET. During breaks in the hearing, Democrats and Republicans offered their spin on the proceedings – not surprisingly offering diametrically opposed views on what was being asked and answered behind closed doors.

House Oversight Chairman James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, said Wednesday morning that Hunter Biden’s appearance “is a big day” but also that it didn’t mark the end of his investigation – even as the impeachment inquiry is facing serious skepticism within the GOP conference as it has failed to turn up evidence implicating President Joe Biden and a key allegation about bribery was discredited.

Comer told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the next phase of the House impeachment inquiry would be a public hearing with Hunter Biden.

Here are key takeaways so far from Hunter Biden’s deposition:

Hunter doesn’t mince words attacking GOP

Hunter Biden’s opening statement at Wednesday’s deposition served two purposes: He made clear his father was not involved in his business and he took a swipe at Republicans who have accused him and his father of corruption.

“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,” Hunter Biden said.

Hunter Biden accused Republicans of pursuing a “baseless and destructive political charade,” charging that the impeachment investigation was built on an “entire partisan house of cards on lies.”

Among those the president’s son pointed to was ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, who was charged earlier this month for lying to the FBI about a Ukrainian company paying millions of dollars in bribes to Joe and Hunter Biden. The indictment was a significant blow to the GOP investigation – as Republicans had been touting the unverified allegations from the ex-informant as a key rationale for the inquiry.

Hunter Biden acknowledged in his statement that he had made mistakes, pointing to his battle with addiction. He’s also facing federal tax and gun charges stemming from a years-long investigation by David Weiss, the US attorney for Delaware who was appointed as special counsel last year.

“To be clear, I have made mistakes in my life, and I have squandered opportunities and privileges that were afforded to me. I know that. I am responsible for that. And I am making amends for that,” Hunter Biden said. “But my mistakes and shortcomings are my own and not my father’s, who has done nothing but devote his entire life to public service and trying to make this country a better place to live.”

What’s happening inside the room? Depends who you ask

During the first break in the closed-door deposition, lawmakers from both parties took turns at the cameras outside the hearing room to offer their spin on what was occurring inside.

The Democrats went first, taking turns accusing the Republicans of wasting government resources pursuing the impeachment inquiry and embarrassing themselves with their questions of the president’s son.

“What we saw I think was a rather embarrassing spectacle, where the Republicans continue to belabor completely trivial points they seem to be obsessively focused on,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

Rep. Jamie Raskin speaks during to the press alongside other Democratic Representatives during a break in the closed-door deposition of Hunter Biden on Wednesday. - Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Rep. Jamie Raskin speaks during to the press alongside other Democratic Representatives during a break in the closed-door deposition of Hunter Biden on Wednesday. - Samuel Corum/Getty Images

After the interview wrapped, Democrats claimed that it marked the end of the impeachment inquiry. Raskin said the deposition was “much ado about nothing.”

“The Biden impeachment investigation is over and we just witnessed its last breath,” said Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California. “After six-plus hours of Hunter Biden testifying, we learned absolutely nothing.”

Republicans, of course, had a different take. GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina spoke to reporters at the first break, saying that Hunter Biden was being “defiant and dishonest.”

She added that some of his answers were “in direct conflict with other witnesses,” though she would not elaborate on what she was referring to.

In the afternoon, Comer said that the interview “proved several bits of our evidence that we’ve been conducting.”

“I think this is a great deposition for us,” he said. “But there are also some contradictory statements that I think need further review.”

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia criticized Hunter Biden for how he characterized his past struggles with drug addiction while also touting his previous business experience as she left the interview.

“When pressure was placed on Hunter Biden he swung back to being, you know, a poor, pitiful addict. And then when he wanted to brag about things he was the smartest and most successful businessman in the room,” Greene said.

Hunter Biden attorney Abbe Lowell told reporters after the deposition that Republicans have produced “no evidence” to support allegations that Joe Biden benefited from his son’s business dealings. Lowell also criticized Republicans for going after Hunter’s drug addiction during the deposition.

“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. So as I said before, there is no evidence because there is no evidence. And today confirmed that,” Lowell said.

He added in a statement that his client’s testimony before lawmakers should put an end to “this political charade.”

“The transcripts of witnesses who have been called to date, including Hunter’s, makes it obvious that there is nothing left to ask, answer, say, or do,” Lowell said. “This illegitimate inquiry should have ended long before their star witness was indicted for lying but it wasn’t.”

The black-and-white viewpoints out of the Hunter Biden interview aren’t likely to change – even with a transcript of the closed-door interview expected to be released quickly, potentially as soon within 24 hours.

Hunter raises questions about Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law

Democrats leaving Hunter Biden’s deposition said the president’s son raised the “double standard” of Republicans investigating his business dealings but turning a blind eye to members of the Trump family like Jared Kushner, whose company received a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia after leaving the Trump White House.

“I think [Hunter Biden] may be a little bit frustrated by some of the double standards relating to Jared Kushner and money that has been just openly pocketed by Donald Trump in office, and Jared Kushner, of course, brought back $2 billion from Saudi Arabia. And all of that has been part of the conversation, and he was assertive about that,” Raskin said.

Hunter Biden’s criticism mirrors one of Democrats’ complaints about the impeachment inquiry, in which Republicans have criticized Hunter Biden for profiting off of his father’s elected position.

Raskin and Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman of New York said that Republicans asked Hunter Biden why he put his father on speakerphone when he was with his business associates.

“I think, to the resonance of a lot of people in the room on a bipartisan basis that people do that. People say, ‘Hey, Dad, will you say hello to my friends?’ ‘Mom, will you say hello to, you know, my colleagues are here?’ Dropping in and that was it,” Raskin said.

Goldman added: “Hunter Biden was very clear that they never involved any discussions of business, in part because his dad was never involved in his business, and they never discussed it.”

“It’s been a very civil deposition,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Florida Democrat, who said there nevertheless have been been “a couple of dust ups here and there.”

Comer says public hearing next step

The GOP committees and Hunter Biden’s legal team negotiated for months over the terms of the interview. The Republicans ultimately agreed not to have the interview videotaped – which they have done for other interviews – as a condition for Hunter Biden to appear behind closed doors.

The concession was just one indication that Hunter Biden’s testimony is a key part of the impeachment investigation. “Obviously, this is a big day,” Comer said before entering the hearing room Wednesday morning.

Just before the interview wrapped Wednesday afternoon, Comer emerged to say that the committees’ next step would be to hold a public hearing with Hunter Biden.

“This impeachment inquiry will now go to the next phase which will be a public hearing,” he told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Comer has previously said that the impeachment inquiry will continue after the Hunter Biden deposition – though he suggested Wednesday that he’s ready to begin closing the probe. There doesn’t appear to be enough support in the GOP conference to support articles of impeachment against President Biden, where Republicans would need near unanimous support with a razor-thin majority in the House.

“As long as we keep getting new information in, we’re going to continue to pursue. I’m ready to try to begin to close this investigation” Comer said.

Comer said he plans to issue a final report and hold a public hearing.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Aileen Graef contributed to this report.

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