President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden surprised members of the House Oversight Committee Wednesday when he made an unannounced appearance at a hearing on a resolution to hold him in contempt of Congress for refusing to appear before the same committee.

Sitting in the audience, not appearing for a private deposition, spurred Republican House members like Congresswoman Nancy Mace from South Carolina to call his appearance a "PR stunt."

Hunter Biden refused last month to testify in a closed-door setting, despite a subpoena for him to appear. The younger Biden and his attorneys cited concerns that Republicans would distort his comments and offered instead to appear at a public hearing.

Rep. Mace questioned why the eldest son of the first family showed up. "My first question is, who bribed Hunter Biden to be here today? That's my first question."

Rep. Mace said a President's son has no immunity or privilege keeping him from testifying in private saying he was, "the epitome of white privilege coming in to the oversight committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed."

"What are you afraid of?" Mace added.

Hunter Biden sat in with his lawyer observing the hearing and disrupted the legislative process not by speaking to the committee but walking out of the hearing room just as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was given time to speak. Greene previously displayed nude photos of the president's son in a hearing and responded to his departure by calling him a "coward.

Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell spoke with reporters in the halls of the House office building saying Biden was not evading Congress, but that "Hunter chose a hearing where Republicans could not distort, manipulate or misuse that testimony."

In a separate statement, Lowell accused Republicans of targeting his client as a surrogate for attacking the president.

The committee continued without the unscheduled star witness in a hearing that devolved into lengthy disagreements between members over everything from the rules of procedure to personal bickering.

The committee did not vote to hold the younger Biden in contempt of Congress, postponing the vote for a later time.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit

Corrected: January 10, 2024
A previous version of this story misspelled Marjorie Taylor Greene's last name.