Why Hunter Biden stood in the Senate ‘swamp’ as he defied the House subpoena

Detractors call Washington, D.C., a “swamp.”

But this is about another Swamp – Specifically the “swamp” of the Senate.

Senate swamp is geographically located on Capitol Hill. It is located directly across from the Senate steps and is where Senate staff park their cars. For decades, those who work and operate in the Capitol have referred to this place as the Senate Swamp.

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They started calling this place Senate Swamp in 1964.

President Biden ignored questions from reporters on Wednesday, moments after his son Hunter defied a congressional subpoena regarding the family's business dealings. (Andrew Harnik)

Legendary Congressional Correspondent Roger Mudd covered the civil rights filibuster on CBS. Mudd often performed stand-up on television from the Senate steps, with a large clock behind him to show the elapsed time during the filibuster (he ended up with two months).

Southern senators complained that Mr. Mudd was standing on the Senate steps. U.S. Capitol Police moved Mudd and his fellow reporters across the square to a grassy area. Well, one day it rained. And the correspondent was named “Mad.” So they began calling the area “Senatorian Swamp.”

However, the site is by no means a swamp.

This area is paved. The narrow concrete facade is lined with panels of permanent stainless steel TV jacks for live shots by networks. Reporters can talk about Congress with their backs to the Capitol, facing in one direction. When reporters turn their heads, they can discuss their legal opinions with the Supreme Court in the background.

Or someone like Hunter Biden could use the occasion for a press conference, as he did Wednesday morning, and publicly ignore a House subpoena for a private deposition. right.

The entrance to the Rayburn House Office Building is more than eight miles from the Senate Swamp. A swarm of reporters and photographers crowded into Rayburn's hall, awaiting the expected arrival of Hunter Biden for a private deposition. Another horde of journalists wandered around Leyburn's “horseshoe,” a semicircular driveway that curves to a side entrance opposite the Longworth House office building.

Hunter Biden at the Capitol

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana)

No one was 100% sure whether Hunter Biden would show up.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) subpoenas Hunter Biden to “testify in a deposition related to investigative matters” at 9:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday at the Rayburn Building. was issued. The subpoena added: “Shall not leave the committee or subcommittee without notice.”

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In late November, Hunter Biden's lawyer, Abby Rowell, countered Comer's deposition request with one of her own.

“We have seen you use closed sessions to manipulate and even distort facts to misinform the public,” Lowell wrote to Comer. wrote. “Therefore, we propose to open the door.”

The ultimatum appears to have caught Comer and the Republicans on the oversight committee by surprise. Comer will give Hunter Biden an opportunity to testify in a public hearing, but he said he will need to give a private deposition before that. Comer noted that Democrats took multiple closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry into former President Trump in the fall of 2019, ahead of hearings that would take place months later.

So while Hunter Biden did appear at the Capitol around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, he did not appear near the Rayburn House office building.

Hunter Biden materialized in the Senate swamp eight miles away. It's the same place where Capitol Police removed Roger Mudd for reporting filibustering of civil rights legislation.

hunter biden capitol hill

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, is seen after giving a statement during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on his public testimony before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. It will be done. (Tom Williams)

Hunter Biden's mudslinging in the Senate was itself a filibuster in that it ignored James Comer's subpoena. But his appearance was a combination of political theater and legal design.

Hunter Biden showed up at the Capitol at the appointed time. But he had no intention of approaching the room where Mr. Comer had planned to conduct his several-hour deposition. The appearance in the Senate swamp with the Capitol dome flashing in the background was an effort by Hunter Biden to show he was ready to appear on his terms.

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After a short statement, Hunter Biden left the swampy grounds of the Senate and departed in a van.

Reporters and reporters held their breath. Out of breath. I bent down. A hand holding his leg just above his knee like an NBA shooting guard gassed in the fourth quarter. They received word that Hunter Biden was coming to the Capitol. But most of them ended at the Rayburn House office building, nowhere near where the day's news unfolded.

So why and how did the Senate Swamp become the hot topic of the day?

It starts with California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Lawmakers are allowed to use the Senate swamp and a similar area known as the House Triangle for press conferences and other events. So are the studios in the House and Senate Radio/TV galleries inside the Capitol. However, indoor location filming generally requires rank-and-file members to secure an invitation from a qualified Congressional press corps.

Eric Swalwell

Congressman Andy Biggs on Wednesday morning called for Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell (pictured) to be punished by Congress for supporting Hunter Biden. (Al Drago)

It's unusual for a House member to book an event on the Senate side, but it's not unheard of. The same goes for senators on the House side.

So Mr. Swalwell reserved the Senate swamp for a vague press conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Only Swalwell did not intend to speak to the press. This was a Hunter Biden forum.

That's logistics.

But that doesn't tell the whole story.

There's a reason Hunter Biden appeared on the Senate side of the Capitol instead of the House side.

Let's say Hunter Biden walks into a crowd of arriving reporters at the Rayburn House office building, makes his remarks, and then leaves. Or imagine if he had done the same with the House triangle. The president's son did not appear for the deposition and had already failed to comply with Comer's subpoena. However, an appearance anywhere on the House side of the Capitol could create a number of legal, constitutional, and parliamentary problems for him.

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As you know, the House Sergeant at Arms has jurisdiction over the House side of the Capitol. yes. The House and Senate meet in the same building. However, constitutionally these are separate institutions. It is also possible that Mr. Comer told the sergeant-at-arms and the Capitol Police that his witnesses showed up under subpoenas when they appeared on the House grounds but did not testify.

hunter biden press conference

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden has reportedly told the nation he may have to “flee” the country if Trump wins in 2024. (Kevin Dietch)

If Comer, or more specifically House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana), had demanded action against witnesses in defiance of subpoenas, Congressional security officials would really have done nothing about it. It's unlikely that it wasn't. Regarding contempt of Congress, the House of Representatives has certain “inherent'' executive powers. Parliament used to arrest and detain people for contempt of Parliament in the late 18th century and early 19th century. The last time Congress used its “inherent” contempt powers was against Commerce Department officials in the 1930s.

But Abbe Lowell is no fool.

He knew that if his client came to the Capitol at the exact time instructed in the subpoena, he could get the media attention he wanted without ever setting foot near the House chamber. Hence the swamp of the Senate.

And while being on the Senate side offered Hunter Biden something of a legal shield to get the vaccine, he wouldn't have been able to enjoy it in the House's turf.

Spring cherry blossoms at the Capitol in Washington DC

Washington DC is called “the swamp.” (Joshua Commins)

Yes, Hunter Biden ignored the subpoena and failed to appear for his deposition. The House of Representatives could vote to hold President Biden's son in contempt of Congress. Such referrals could be forwarded to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution.

But, resisting the subpoena, Hunter Biden showed up at the rally. senate Swamp.


It might be a swamp. But in this case, the Senate floor provided Hunter Biden with stronger legal footing than the marble floors of the Rayburn House office building.