Hunter Biden, the president’s son, appeared on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning to offer to publicly testify in House Republicans’ impeachment investigation into his father, though he insisted he would not appear for a private deposition they scheduled over his refusals.
The younger Mr. Biden, who has been served a subpoena to testify, spoke to reporters in a hastily called news conference outside the Capitol near the Senate, across the complex from a House office building where Republican lawmakers were waiting to question him behind closed doors.
It was a dramatic moment that came just hours before House Republicans were to hold a vote to formalize their impeachment inquiry into President Biden, after a year of investigation that has turned up no concrete evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors.
They have pursued Hunter Biden for years, searching for evidence that his father was involved in corruption related to his business dealings with foreign entities, and had stacked boxes of papers on a table inside a deposition room waiting to question him.
Mr. Biden challenged them to do it in public.
“I am here,” Mr. Biden said. “Let me state as clearly as I can: My father was not financially involved in my business — not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad and certainly not as an artist.”
The younger Mr. Biden is under federal indictment facing accusations of tax crimes related to his overseas business interests. At the news conference, he acknowledged his personal failings, described in scandalous detail in the indictment, but said they had nothing to do with his father.
“I’m here today to acknowledge that I’ve made mistakes in my life and wasted opportunities and privileges I was afforded,” he said. “For that, I’m responsible. For that, I’m accountable.”
He said Republicans had invaded his privacy and savaged him personally for six years in the service of a false narrative about his father.
“They ridiculed my struggle with addiction; they belittled my recovery; and they have tried to dehumanize me — all to embarrass and damage my father, who has devoted his entire public life to service,” Hunter Biden said.
Republicans insisted they had every reason to scrutinize Mr. Biden’s actions and any possible involvement by his father, repeating their so far unsubstantiated claims of crimes by the president.
“This is about public corruption at the highest levels,” Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the Oversight Committee, said. Mr. Comer called Hunter Biden’s refusal to testify in private “unacceptable,” adding that “the president’s son does not get to set the rules.”
Hunter Biden has said he does not trust the Republicans investigating him, and he fears they will selectively leak his remarks and try to distort what he says.
“Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry or hear what I have to say,” he said on Wednesday. “What are they afraid of? I’m here. I’m ready.”
The Republicans leading the impeachment inquiry, including Mr. Comer and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, have threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress if he does not comply, and said a public hearing is not enough.
“We think he should come in and so if he doesn’t, we’re going to move forward with contempt proceedings,” Mr. Jordan said. “There’s a process we have to follow, but we plan to do that.”
Democrats decried the Republican stance, noting that Mr. Jordan failed to comply with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee during the last Congress. They said he and other Republicans carrying out the investigation should agree to allow Hunter Biden to testify publicly.
“Chairman Comer and Chairman Jordan would not take yes for an answer,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the oversight panel, said.
House Republicans plan to hold a vote Wednesday evening to formally open an impeachment investigation into President Biden, hoping to tie the younger Biden’s alleged wrongdoing through overseas business deals to the incumbent president.