(CNN) — Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, is expected to appear in court Monday morning in northeast Arkansas for a hearing related to a years-long paternity dispute.
What began in 2019 as a basic paternity case has morphed into a proxy battle over Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals, his laptop and other financial matters that are under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice and that they face scrutiny from House Republicans.
The issue escalated last week after the mother of one of Hunter Biden’s sons asked an Arkansas judge to hold him in contempt and send him to jail. She claims that he is ignoring court orders requiring her to turn over documents about his finances. (He denies any wrongdoing.)
Here’s a breakdown of the case, what to expect on Monday, and the key players involved.
What is the Hunter Biden paternity dispute about?
Hunter Biden, 53, had a sexual relationship with a 32-year-old Arkansas woman named Lunden Roberts. She gave birth to a baby girl in August 2018, according to court documents. Hunter Biden denied being the girl’s father, so Roberts filed a paternity suit in Arkansas Circuit Court in 2019.
In his memoir, Hunter Biden said he denied paternity because he “had no recollection” of his intimate encounter with Roberts, which occurred while he was battling severe alcoholism and drug addiction, and amid a flurry of casual sexual “ramblings.” following a messy divorce.
A DNA test confirmed that Hunter Biden is the girl’s biological father. Biden did not dispute the results and agreed to pay monthly child support to Roberts. The case was closed in 2020. The woman said in recent court documents that Hunter Biden has “never seen or contacted” his four-year-old daughter, and that Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden “remain estranged” from the granddaughter. of the.
Why is this case coming to light now?
The case was reopened in September 2022 when Hunter Biden asked the judge to reduce his daughter’s support payment. She told the court that there had been “a substantial material change in [sus] financial circumstances” since the 2020 agreement, alluding to a considerable drop in their income.
This gave Roberts the opportunity to reopen the “discovery” process and demand records on Hunter Biden’s finances. She requested information about his art sales, an inventory of his property and automobiles, details about his travel habits, and records about his tax difficulties.
He is also looking for “information about money paid by James Biden [el tío del acusado y hermano del presidente] and President Joe Biden,” according to court documents. Hunter Biden has worked with his uncle James Biden on business ventures abroad, including in China.
Hunter Biden has resisted many of Roberts’ efforts to investigate his personal finances.
Their requests dovetail with ongoing House Republican efforts to investigate Hunter Biden and obtain his financial records. Rep. James Comer, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, is similarly investigating Hunter Biden’s art sales, his foreign business and the Biden family’s finances.
What is the hearing this Monday about?
After months of legal wrangling between Hunter Biden and Roberts over his financial records, Roberts escalated the situation last week in a major way. He accused Hunter Biden of violating multiple court orders and intentionally withholding key evidence, and asked Independence County Circuit Judge Holly Meyer to hold him in contempt and send him to jail until he complies.
The judge ordered both sides to attend Monday’s hearing in Batesville, which is about 90 minutes northeast of Little Rock. Roberts lives in the city of about 11,000 people.
There are several related issues that will likely come up at the hearing, including Roberts’ recent attempt to hire a right-wing conspiracy theorist as an “expert witness” for his case.
The contempt issue will be addressed at a future date, the judge said last Friday in a written order.
Is this case related to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation?
The Justice Department has a long-running criminal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and finances. The investigation began under the Trump administration and focuses on his dealings abroad.
CNN previously reported that federal prosecutors are weighing a felony tax evasion charge, misdemeanor charges of failing to file taxes and a false statement charge related to the purchase of a gun.
Hunter Biden has not been charged with any crime and denies breaking the law. His legal team met with senior Justice Department officials last week after requesting an update on the case.
A lawyer for Roberts told CBS News last year that she was cooperating in the criminal investigation. He said she testified before a federal grand jury in Delaware, gave a voluntary interview to FBI and IRS agents and complied with a subpoena to turn over any records she had on the finances of Hunter Biden.
Is there politics at stake?
Roberts is represented by Clint and Jennifer Lancaster, attorneys who call themselves “active Republicans who believe in free, fair, open, honest and transparent elections.”
They were part of Trump’s legal team that tried to overturn his 2020 loss in Wisconsin by nullifying hundreds of thousands of votes in heavily Democratic areas.
They also acknowledged in a recent court filing that they “consulted with Kenneth Chesebro regarding the potential use of surrogate presidential electors,” referring to the pro-Trump lawyer who masterminded a multi-state plot to keep Trump in office by subverting the electoral system.
Who is Garrett Ziegler?
The Lancasters are trying to bring in Garrett Ziegler, a former Trump White House adviser, as an “expert witness” who can bolster Roberts’ case and help her search for Hunter Biden’s financial records.
Ziegler runs a website that has released emails, texts, images, videos, bank records and other material from a laptop purporting to belong to Hunter Biden. The laptop has become a political flashpoint, with leading figures in the Republican Party using it to attack the Biden family.
“My experience relates solely to the lifestyle, person, and financial transactions related to Mr. Biden,” Ziegler wrote in an affidavit filed with the court, adding that he conducted “an in-depth analysis of Biden’s laptop. Hunter Biden” and that he “spent years studying Hunter Biden.”
But Ziegler also has a history of promoting right-wing conspiracy theories. After testifying last year before the House Select Committee on January 6, 2021, he publicly launched a profane and sexist tirade, including racial attacks against House lawmakers, anti-Semitic tropes and misogynistic slurs.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers have tried to block Ziegler from being used as a witness in the paternity case.
They previously sued Ziegler for alleged “harassment” and urged the Justice Department and IRS to investigate him for possible computer crimes. The letters were signed by Abbe Lowell, a high-profile defense attorney who joined Hunter Biden’s legal team this year and seeks to represent him in the Arkansas case.