Batesville, AR — Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, is scheduled to appear in court in northeast Arkansas on Monday morning for a hearing on a years-old paternity dispute.
What began in 2019 as a simple paternity dispute has evolved into a proxy struggle over Hunter Biden’s international business dealings, laptop, and other financial matters that are being investigated criminally by the Justice Department and are being scrutinized by House Republicans.
Last week, the mother of one of Hunter Biden’s children asked an Arkansas judge to hold him in contempt of court and jail him. She claims he is disregarding court orders forcing him to turn over financial documents. (He strongly rejects any misconduct.)
Here’s a rundown of the case, what to expect on Monday, and who the important actors are.
What exactly is the paternity dispute?
Hunter Biden, 53, had a sexual relationship with Lunden Roberts, 32, of Arkansas. According to court documents, she gave birth to a baby girl in August 2018. Roberts filed a paternity claim in Arkansas Circuit Court in 2019 after Hunter Biden denied fathering the child.
Hunter Biden stated in his memoir that he disputed paternity because he had “no recollection” of his meeting with Roberts, which occurred while he was struggling with serious alcoholism and drug addiction, and amid a flurry of casual sexual “rampages” in the aftermath of a rough divorce.
A DNA test confirmed Hunter Biden was the girl’s biological father. He did not appeal the decision and agreed to pay Roberts monthly child support. In 2020, the case was closed. She stated in recent court filings that Hunter Biden “has never seen or contacted” his four-year-old daughter and that Joe Biden and his first wife Jill Biden “remain estranged” from their grandchild.
Why is this surfacing now?
Hunter Biden restarted the case in September when he asked the judge to decrease his child support payments. He told the court that there had been “a substantial material change in (his) financial circumstances” after the 2020 settlement, referring to a significant decrease in his income.
This provided Roberts the opportunity to resume the “discovery” process and obtain financial documents for Hunter Biden. She wanted to know about his art sales, an inventory of his houses and cars, information about his travel habits, and data about his tax problems.
She also wants “information about monies paid to or by James Biden (the defendant’s uncle and the President’s brother) and President Joe Biden,” according to court documents. Hunter Biden has worked on global business projects alongside his uncle James Biden, especially in China.
Many of Roberts’ attempts to pry into Hunter Biden’s finances have been met with resistance.
Her inquiries coincide with ongoing House GOP efforts to probe Hunter Biden and seek his financial documents. Rep. James Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is also looking into Hunter Biden’s art sales, overseas ventures, and family money.
What is the purpose of Monday’s hearing?
After months of legal bickering between Hunter Biden and Roberts over his financial records, Roberts dramatically escalated the issue this week. She accused Hunter Biden of breaching repeated court orders and concealing important evidence on purpose, and she requested Independence County Circuit Judge Holly Meyer to hold him in contempt and imprison him until he complies.
The judge ordered both parties to appear at the hearing on Monday in Batesville, which is roughly 90 minutes northeast of Little Rock. Roberts lives in a community of around 11,000 inhabitants.
Several related issues are likely to be discussed at the hearing, including Roberts’ recent attempt to hire a right-wing conspiracy theorist as an “expert witness” for her case.
The judge stated in a written order Friday that the contempt issue will be addressed at a later date.
Is this related to the DOJ’s criminal investigation?
Hunter Biden’s taxes and finances are the subject of a long-running criminal investigation by the Justice Department. The investigation began during Trump’s presidency and is centered on his international dealings.
According to the associated press, federal prosecutors are considering a felony tax evasion charge, misdemeanor charges for failing to file taxes, and a false-statement prosecution related to a weapons purchase.
Hunter Biden has not been charged with any crimes and claims he has never broken the law. His legal team met with top Justice Department officials last week to obtain an update on the matter.
Last year, Roberts’ attorney told the associated press that she was participating in the criminal investigation. He claimed she testified to a federal grand jury in Delaware, gave a voluntary interview to FBI and IRS investigators, and complied with a subpoena to turn over any financial documents she had on Hunter Biden.
Is there politics at work?
Clint and Jennifer Lancaster, attorneys for Roberts, describe themselves as “active Republicans who believe in free, fair, open, honest, and transparent elections.”
They were on Trump’s legal team when he attempted to overturn his defeat in Wisconsin in 2020 by invalidating hundreds of thousands of ballots in largely Democratic districts.
In a recent court filing, they also admitted that they “consulted with Kenneth Chesebro regarding the potential use of alternate presidential electors,” alluding to the pro-Trump lawyer who planned a multi-state scheme to keep Trump in office by undermining the Electoral College process.
Garrett Ziegler, who are you?
The Lancasters are attempting to hire Garrett Ziegler, a former Trump White House adviser, as an “expert witness” to boost Roberts’ case and facilitate her pursuit of Hunter Biden’s financial records.
Ziegler owns a website that has published emails, texts, photographs, videos, bank records, and other material from a laptop supposedly belonging to Hunter Biden. The laptop has become a political hotspot, with senior Republicans exploiting it to target the Biden family.
“My experience is solely related to the lifestyle, person, and financial transactions related to Mr. Biden,” Ziegler stated in a signed statement filed with the court, adding that he “conducted an in-depth analysis of the Hunter Biden laptop” and “spent years studying Hunter Biden.”
However, Ziegler has a history of spreading right-wing conspiracy theories. He went on a vulgar and racist rant after testifying last year before the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, which included racial insults at House legislators, antisemitic tropes, and misogynistic obscenities.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers have attempted to prevent Ziegler from testifying in the paternity case.
They earlier sued Ziegler for claimed “harassment” and requested that the Justice Department and IRS investigate him for potential computer crimes. Abbe Lowell, a high-profile defense attorney who joined Hunter Biden’s legal team this year and is trying to represent him in the Arkansas case, signed the letters.