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Republicans have begun the process to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

House Republicans conducting an impeachment investigation into President Biden allege, without clear evidence, that Biden is entangled in his son Hunter's foreign business dealings. Last month, Hunter Biden refused a subpoena to testify behind closed doors, saying he would only testify in public. So today, Republican lawmakers began a process to hold him in contempt of Congress. As NPR's Eric McDaniel reports, it was chaos. And a warning - it also involved some vulgar language.

ERIC MCDANIEL, BYLINE: It started with a stunt. Hunter Biden appeared in the audience for his own contempt hearing. Here's South Carolina Republican Nancy Mace's reaction.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY MACE: You are the epitome of white privilege - coming into the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed. What are you afraid of? You have no balls to come up here and...

JARED MOSKOWITZ: Mr. Chairman, point of inquiry.

MACE: Mr. Chairman...

MOSKOWITZ: If...

JAMES COMER: The lady is recognized.

MOSKOWITZ: ...The gentlelady wants to hear from Hunter Biden, we can hear from him right now. Let's take a vote and hear from Hunter Biden.

MACE: I am speaking. Are women allowed to speak here?

MOSKOWITZ: What are you afraid of?

(CROSSTALK)

MCDANIEL: That was Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz interrupting her there. And in a hearing that was supposed to be about defying a congressional subpoena in a larger investigation that could ultimately end in impeaching the president of the United States, committee members kept losing their way, drawn into fights that often got pretty personal. Here's Texas Democrat Jasmine Crockett in part of an extended exchange about white privilege.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JASMINE CROCKETT: It was a spit in the face, at least of mine as a Black woman. You want to talk about a two-tier justice system when this country has a history when it comes to Black and brown folk of having two separate sets of rules.

MCDANIEL: Then Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene and Democrat Jamie Raskin sparred over congressional procedure, over documents Greene wanted to introduce to the record and about pornography. In a previous hearing, Greene displayed nude photos of Hunter Biden.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMIE RASKIN: The minority has not provided a copy of the material. For the record, in the past, she's displayed pornography. Are pornographic photos allowed to be displayed in this committee room, Mr. Chairman?

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: It's not pornography.

RASKIN: OK, you're the expert. I'll...

GREENE: I'm not an expert, Mr. Raskin.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Seems like it.

MCDANIEL: After several minutes of delay, they took a break to sort out what would be allowed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COMER: OK, OK, OK. We're going to...

GREENE: And drag queens showing their body parts at parades...

COMER: ...Reclaim order here.

GREENE: ...Are offended...

COMER: We're going to - we'll suspend and let the staff discuss the...

MCDANIEL: At times, it appeared that committee chairman, Republican James Comer, had totally lost control. And after all the fighting, the committee ran out of time. They postponed the contempt vote, the whole reason for their meeting, until later in the day. Hunter Biden had left the room hours before.

Eric McDaniel, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eric McDaniel edits the NPR Politics Podcast. He joined the program ahead of its 2019 relaunch as a daily podcast.
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