tHouse Speaker Kevin McCarthy threw his support behind opening an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning, amid growing calls by the most extreme members of his conference.
The speaker announced his support for an inquiry but denied it was due to pressure from the most right-wing voices in the House Republican conference.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption. And they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” Mr McCarthy said in a brief televised statement.
Mr McCarthy’s words come despite the fact that House Republicans have yet to find evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Biden or any evidence that he directly benefited from the business dealings of his son Hunter Biden, specifically mentioning the younger Biden’s work with Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Indeed, Mr McCarthy mostly said how Mr Biden’s foreign business dealings, stating how more than $20m went to shell companies of Biden family members. Mr McCarthy noted how one FBI informant alleged Mr Biden was bribed, though last month, House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer admitted on Fox News that Devon Archer, the GOP’s star witness, did not prove Mr Biden took bribes when he served as Barack Obama’s vice president.
“Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company,” he said.
Mr McCarthy also criticised the fact that “the president’s family” has received “special treatment” by “Biden’s own administration.” The speaker’s words likely allude to Hunter Biden’s failed plea deal, despite the fact it was brokered with David Weiss, a US attorney whom former president Donald Trump nominated and whom the president asked to stay on to continue the investigation into the younger Mr Biden.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption, and they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” Mr McCarthy said in a brief statement after which he did not take any questions.
“That’s why today, I am directing our House committee to open an informal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden,” he said. “This important logical next step will give our committees the power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public. It’s exactly we want to know.”
Many conservative House Republicans – including Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), an ally of the speaker, and Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL) – have pushed for the House to impeach Mr Biden.
The investigation will be led by Mr Comer, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and House Ways and Means Commitee Chairman Jason Smith.
“Now, I do not make this decision lightly,” Mr McCarthy said. “And regardless of your party or who you voted for, these facts should concern all Americans.”
But Mr McCarthy’s call also comes as the House faces a looming deadline to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open. The US government will run out of money on 30 September.
Congress will likely pass a continuing resolution before the end of the month to allow negotiations to continue.
Mr McCarthy’s move comes after he faced serious criticism from many conservatives for the bipartisan agreement his leadership team brokered with the White House to lift the debt limit.
Shortly after Mr McCarthy delivered his address, Mr Gaetz was set to deliver an address criticising Mr McCarthy’s leadership. The Florida Republican voted against making Mr McCarthy speaker earlier this year and has called for impeaching Mr Biden since before Republicans won back the House last year.
House Democrats have already begun to prepare their response to the impeachment. On Monday, Rep Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, released a memo that showed how House Republicans had failed to obtain testimony from witnesses actually alleging the president committed any crimes.
The memo noted how Mr Archer testified that while Hunter Biden testified that the younger Mr Biden obviously sought to profit off his last name and family connections, he denied any knowledge that the president had any involvement.