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Swalwell appearing to 'facilitate' Hunter Biden to 'thumb nose at Congress' worth scrutiny: Turley
December 19 2023, 08:00

The unique presence of Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., at Hunter Biden's news conference on the Senate side of the Capitol last week raises questions about whether he played a role in the first son defying the House subpoena, a top legal expert said.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told Fox News that Hunter Biden knowingly "thumbed his nose at Congress" in a display he called a "slam-dunk case of contempt."

However, more interestingly was the aspect that the space on the Senate side where Biden's press conference took place – presumably to avoid any potential intervention by House Sergeant-at-Arms William McFarland for defying a lawful subpoena – was reserved by Swalwell's office, he said.

House Oversight Committee member Eric Burlison, R-Mo., also said last week that McFarland should indeed pursue Biden, adding that the first son is "clearly in the city [of Washington]."


On "America Reports," anchor John Roberts said Swalwell was clearly acting as a "sherpa of sorts" for Hunter Biden's visit to the Hill. 

Turley said there may not have been a crime committed by Swalwell even if Biden is probed for contempt, but that other repercussions could come at the discretion of the House.

"It certainly raises serious questions under the House rules. I've never seen anything quite like that," he said.

"There's plenty of members that associated with unpopular causes. What's different here is that Swalwell reserved congressional space… through his office, presumably using his staff, to defy the subpoena, a valid subpoena of the House."


Turley noted Swalwell himself is a former Democratic manager of ex-President Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings appearing with someone who is the subject to congressional proceedings.

He cited how Republicans already essentially barred Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, following allegations surrounding his interactions with a suspected Chinese spy named Fang Fang. 

"[T]hey have a lot of options from censure to looking at whether he should be allowed to continue on committees," he added. 

"But the key here is really that we need to know to what extent did he not only facilitate, but encourage what could be a federal crime. And in my view, it was federal criminal contempt what Hunter did on that day."

In a recent column for "The Hill," Turley said Swalwell blamed the House for insisting Hunter appear for a closed-door deposition rather than a public hearing, calling the move hypocritical on the part of Democrats.

Turley also responded to comments House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., made to Fox News over the weekend regarding a two-tiered justice system and a constitutional crisis being the president's son defying Congress.


He said the situation is not necessarily a crisis but that the "gravity" of what the younger Biden did is duly noted.

The contempt of Congress statute is an easy vessel to apply to the situation if needed he said, which means it's not necessarily a crisis.

"This isn't a particularly difficult lift legally to bring a contempt action against him," he said.

"But what's really breathtaking here is that the Democrats who have defended him did this precise approach, that is they how they had witnesses come in for depositions before they appeared in public hearings. And that includes Eric Swalwell, who participated in that."

During the Trump impeachment, the then-president's former strategist Steve Bannon and economic adviser Peter Navarro were cited for contempt, for allegedly defying the House Select Committee on the January 6 Riot.

In addition, Democrats on the committee, like Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. claimed at the time that closed-door proceedings were key to the panel's work because there would be more time and depth than at a public hearing.

In remarks reported by Politico, Swalwell explained his actions, claiming Trump "directed MAGA Republicans to weaponized Hunter's past addiction to attack President Biden."

"I’m not going to sit quietly and let MAGA Republicans do Trump’s bidding in Congress," he said.