Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy endorsed the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden on Tuesday amid allegations that the US president profited from his son Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings.
“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, declining to take questions.
Referring to House Oversight Committee member James Comer’s preliminary investigation into the accusations against America’s 46th commander-in-chief, the speaker said: “Through our investigations we have found that President Biden did lie to American people about his own knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealers.
“Eyewitnesses have testified that the president joined on multiple phones and had multiple interactions, dinners that resulted in millions of dollars into his son and his son’s business partners.”
He claimed the allegations together “paint a picture of corruption” and vowed the House would “go wherever the evidence takes us”.
The forthcoming inquiry will be led by Mr Comer, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Jason Smith.
The charge to impeach Mr Biden – seen in some quarters as a transparent bid for revenge over the dual impeachments suffered by his predecessor, Donald Trump – has been led by congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has already failed in the endeavour on at least six previous occasions since the Democrat took office in January 2021.
The Georgia representative has already filed House resolutions proposing to open impeachment inquiries into Mr Biden over a baseless Republican conspiracy theory concerning his dealings in Ukraine as vice president in 2016, his extension of the federal Covid-19 eviction moratorium, his handling of US-Mexico border security (twice), the US withdrawal of military personnel from Afghanistan and claims that he endangered American energy security by selling oil to foreign nations.
Randy Weber, Bob Gibbs, Lauren Boebert, Bill Posey, Louie Gohmert, Andy Ogles and Greg Steube have likewise all filed impeachment motions of their own against the president to the 117th and 118th Congress, all of which have simply been politely referred on to the House Judiciary Committee and never heard of again.
This time, the populist wing of the GOP embodied by Ms Greene is determined to haul Mr Biden and his troubled son over the coals on the question of the latter’s corporate interests and over whether the Biden administration’s Justice Department has intervened on the younger man’s behalf during the ongoing criminal case against him
So far, no evidence has been brought forward to prove any wrongdoing.
Undeterred, Ms Greene had threatened to refuse to vote for all-important government spending bills unless her demand for an inquiry is met, which might have led to a shutdown when the fiscal year ends on 30 September, meaning furloughed workers, stalled agencies and essential programmes left in limbo.
“I’ve already decided I will not vote to fund the government unless we have passed an impeachment inquiry,” she told her constituents at a recent town hall gathering, reiterating the ultimatum on X.
White House spokesperson Ian Sams responded to the prospect of a new impeachment mob rattling its pitchforks against his boss by wearily declaring that enough taxpayers’ money had already been wasted on the Republican “wild goose chase” to investigate Mr Biden and his family and that the latest move was “only a partisan stunt driven by the most extreme, far-right members” of the opposition.
Not all GOP members are on board with Ms Greene’s project either.
Colorado’s Ken Buck, who serves on the House Freedom Caucus alongside her, told Jen Psaki on MSNBC as recently as Sunday that he did not believe there was any evidence to suggest that Mr Biden had committed high crimes or a misdemeanour, the threshold for commencing an impeachment.
“The time for impeachment is the time when there’s evidence linking President Biden – if there’s evidence linking President Biden to a high crime or misdemeanour. That doesn’t exist right now,” he said.
“Marjorie filed impeachment, articles of impeachment, on President Biden before he was sworn into office more than two and a half years ago.
“So the idea that she is now the expert on impeachment or that she is someone who should set the timing on impeachment is absurd.”
For his part, Speaker McCarthy had previously called an impeachment investigation into Mr Biden “a natural next step” during an interview with Fox News last month but said a House floor vote would be needed to establish its authority.
He subsequently preached caution about tying it to the federal spending deadline, warning his colleagues about the consequences of a failure to forge a consensus.
“If we shut down, all of government shuts down – investigations and everything else,” he told Fox more recently.
However, Mr McCarthy now appears to have put those qualms aside to appease his party’s troublesome right flank, with the likes of Florida’s Matt Gaetz, like Ms Greene, also having threatened to make life difficult for him if he did not oblige.
Before the speaker’s announcement on Tuesday, Jamie Raskin, the Democratic ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, had attempted to shoot down the Republican impeachment push before it got started by issuing a letter arguing that Mr Comer’s efforts to investigate the president so far had only served to prove that his case was full of holes.
In a lengthy document released on Monday morning, Mr Raskin noted the failure of Republicans to obtain testimony from any witnesses actually alleging the occurrence of wrongdoing by the president, including from supposed GOP star witness Devon Archer.
A former friend of the younger Biden, Mr Archer testified to the committee that Hunter Biden obviously sought to profit from his surname and presumed family connections but denied any knowledge of the man’s father actually being involved or having awareness of that fact.
The letter also addressed the inability of Republicans to prove that any money connected to Hunter Biden’s business ventures ever found its way to his father.
“Rather than owning up to the fact that the evidence in his ‘top priority’ investigation has established no wrongdoing by President Biden, Chairman Comer has resorted to misrepresenting and distorting this huge body of evidence to make baseless and sensationalistic claims,” Mr Raskin wrote.
“Chairman Comer has repeatedly, and without evidence, asserted the falsehood that President Biden has inappropriately received foreign money.”
Mr Raskin’s statement is likely to contribute to tensions with the ranking member on his committee as the new inquiry progresses.
The Congressional Integrity Project, a left-leaning watchdog, meanwhile also issued its own assessment of Mr Comer’s work, branding it “eight months of abject failure”.