House Republicans on Wednesday issued subpoenas demanding testimony from Hunter and James Biden, the president’s son and brother, as they hunt for evidence to try to build an impeachment case against him.
Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the Oversight Committee, authorized the subpoenas of President Biden’s family members as well as Rob Walker, one of their business associates. It was the most significant move in the impeachment inquiry since Republicans announced they were opening it in September, despite no evidence that the president had committed high crimes or misdemeanors.
Republicans have toiled for months to try to find support for their allegations that Mr. Biden corruptly profited from his family members’ overseas business dealings and accepted bribes. But to date, they have failed to deliver proof to back up their boldest claims.
The subpoenas demand that James Biden appear for a deposition on Dec. 6 and Hunter Biden appear a week later. Mr. Walker was summoned to appear on Nov. 29.
In a statement announcing the subpoenas on Wednesday, Mr. Comer accused the president of benefiting from an “influence-peddling scheme” and telling lies about his “family’s business schemes.”
The Biden administration quickly dismissed the subpoenas, calling the Republican inquiry a “wild goose chase” whose only purpose is to damage the president with innuendo ahead of the 2024 election.
“Instead of using the power of Congress to pursue a partisan political smear campaign against the president and his family, extreme House Republicans should do their jobs,” said Ian Sams, a White House spokesman.
Mr. Comer has already issued subpoenas for the bank records of James and Hunter Biden as well as their associates, and obtained more than 14,000 pages of documents.
As a result of those subpoenas, Republicans obtained and then released copies of two checks that showed payments from James Biden and his wife, Sara Biden, to Joseph R. Biden Jr. totaling $240,000. Mr. Comer portrayed one of the checks as explosive new evidence that James Biden and President Biden “laundered China money.” But a lawyer for James Biden called Mr. Comer’s allegation “preposterous and highly misleading,” noting that the checks were to reimburse Joe Biden for two personal loans he made to his brother while he was not in office.
“In July 2017, Jim Biden borrowed $40,000 from his brother. Five weeks later, he paid back that loan,” said Paul J. Fishman, a lawyer for James Biden. “Those transactions are fully reflected in the bank records that the committee has had for weeks. At no time did Jim involve his brother in his business relationships.”
Also on Wednesday, Mr. Comer demanded that other Biden family members submit to transcribed interviews. He sent letters seeking interviews to Sara Biden; Hallie Biden, the widow of Beau Biden, the president’s older son; Elizabeth Secundy, Hallie Biden’s sister; Melissa Cohen, who is married to Hunter Biden; and Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter Biden’s who has accused the Bidens of wrongdoing.
Before Mr. Comer issued the subpoenas on Wednesday, Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, sent a fiery letter to Speaker Mike Johnson imploring him to back off the impeachment investigation.
Mr. Lowell called on Mr. Johnson to “be a different speaker — one who restores the integrity and reputation of your chamber.” He also demanded that Mr. Johnson block Mr. Comer and other Republican investigators from “continuing their partisan political games.”
Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, under mounting political pressure from the right wing of his conference, unilaterally ordered the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden after initially resisting taking that step because he lacked the votes to win approval of the move on the House floor, given resistance among some mainstream Republicans.
Mr. Johnson is seen as a more full-throated supporter of the investigation. In July, he called the Bidens “hopelessly corrupt” and said they had “apparently engaged in a long pattern of extortion, bribery, influence peddling, tax fraud and staggering abuses of power.”
Since becoming speaker, Mr. Johnson has adopted a more neutral tone, telling reporters, “We have to follow due process, and we have to follow the law.”