By Marshall Cohen, CNN
President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will need to sit for a sworn deposition and answer additional written questions about his investments, art sales and other financial transactions as part of a paternity-related case, an Arkansas judge said Monday.
At an extraordinary two-hour court hearing with all parties in attendance, Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell revealed that his client is paying $20,000 in monthly child support, and has given $750,000 in total to Lunden Roberts, an Arkansas woman who is the mother of their four-year-old daughter.
Lowell told the judge he wanted to refute recent tabloid articles that called Hunter Biden a “deadbeat dad” and that he wanted to “let the world know” that “he is paying what is agreed to.”
Independence County Circuit Court Judge Holly Meyer also chided Hunter Biden’s lawyers for hiding information that should be public, and ordered them to re-submit their filings without redactions. She made the comments during a two-hour hearing that Hunter Biden personally attended.
“The ability to redact is being somewhat abused,” Meyer told Hunter Biden’s legal team.
The hearing was convened after Hunter Biden asked to reduce the monthly payments. The two sides are now locked in a legal tussle over which documents he needs to hand over to Roberts as part of the discovery process. She and her outspoken GOP lawyers want many of the same financial records that House Republicans are trying to obtain for their own Hunter Biden probes.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers need to provide the written answers by May 12 and his deposition will take place in mid-June, the judge said. If the parties don’t reach an agreement to adjust the monthly payments, a trial is scheduled for late July in the small town of Batesville.
The president’s son wore a black suit with a blue tie at the hearing, and was only accompanied by his lawyers and Secret Service agents. He did not interact with Roberts, who had at least eight family members with her in court. On his way out of the courthouse, Hunter Biden was heckled by two local residents of the heavily Republican county, who shouted “Go Trump.”
Fight over Hunter Biden’s finances
On paper, the Arkansas case is a basic child support dispute. But it has morphed into a partisan proxy battle: Roberts’ attorneys are outspoken GOP activists, and many of their requests for Hunter Biden’s financial records dovetail with what House Republicans are also trying to obtain.
Roberts’ attorney Clint Lancaster brought up Hunter Biden’s painting sales, which have raised conflict-of-interest questions and are also being scrutinized by the House Oversight Committee.
“It’s impossible” for the art sales to improperly influence the Biden administration, Lowell said, because “nobody up the chain knows” the identity of the buyers. Under an arrangement with the White House, the buyers of Hunter Biden’s paintings will only be revealed to the gallery owner.
The judge ordered Hunter Biden’s team to provide more details to Roberts about the art sales, and she told Roberts’ attorneys they could subpoena the gallery to get additional information.
She also ordered Hunter Biden’s legal team to provide more fulsome answers about his taxes, telling them, “you can’t just say, ‘these are my tax returns, good luck, you figure it out.'”
“This cryptic hide-the-ball game isn’t going to cut it when we get to trial,” Meyer said.
A spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee told CNN that the Arkansas paternity case “could shed some light on Hunter Biden’s financial records,” but that the Republican-run panel was focused on its own separate inquiry into what it called the “Biden family’s business schemes.”
Debate over ‘expert witness’
The parties also clashed Monday over Garrett Ziegler, a former Trump White House aide who has previously promoted right-wing conspiracy theories. Hunter Biden’s lawyers accused him of leaking sensitive information about the case, while Roberts’ team touted his investigative chops.
Before the hearing began, Lowell walked across the courtroom to personally greet Ziegler, whom he is suing in a separate case over alleged “harassment” of Hunter Biden. During the hearing, Lowell accused Ziegler of leaking “within 24 hours” of being brought into the case, by discussing Hunter Biden’s taxes at a public event. (Lancaster said his side has never leaked.)
Meyer agreed there was “suspicion” of possible leaks, but said there wasn’t conclusive proof.
“I have been very generous to Mr. Biden,” Meyer said, explaining that she issued a broad order keeping most documents secret in the case, but that she simply “can’t gag the whole world.”
There were also theatrics in court when Lancaster handed a massive stack of papers to Lowell that he claimed was a “report on the Hunter Biden laptop” by Ziegler. He runs a website that has published emails, photos and other material from a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden.
Both Hunter Biden and Roberts are required to attend future hearings. Meyer said she doesn’t like “micromanaging” the parties, but said their presence helped kick the proceedings into gear.
“There’s a whole lot of spinning wheels and not a lot of moving,” Meyer said about the pace of the case, later adding, “I’m gonna run herd on you gentlemen and ladies to move this along.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.
CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.