Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-California) announced on Tuesday that he has directed three committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
The inquiry will seek bank records and other personal documents belonging to the president, focusing on the possibility that he engaged in fraudulent or otherwise corrupt actions related to the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.
The announcement appears to be an inquiry in search of a reason to impeach, as no concrete evidence has emerged so far to suggest a connection between the president and his son’s business practices. In past congressional hearings on the matter, key witnesses — who Republican lawmakers promised would provide such evidence — have stated that Joe Biden had no involvement in the actions of his son.
Impeachment inquiries are generally opened after the public is made aware of presidential wrongdoing. The 2019 impeachment of former President Donald Trump was prompted after a conversation was made public in which Trump demanded political dirt on Biden (who was then a potential rival in the 2020 election) from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The 1998 impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, was based on revelations that Clinton had lied under oath about an extramarital affair.
But McCarthy was vague when explaining his reasoning on Tuesday for instructing the House Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees to open an inquiry into Biden.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption,” McCarthy insisted. “They warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives.”
An impeachment inquiry was the “logical next step,” McCarthy added.
The Speaker’s announcement comes as far right lawmakers in the GOP House caucus have increased their demands for Biden to be impeached. Many have openly admitted that they are pushing impeachment solely as a means to hurt Biden politically in the months ahead of the 2024 presidential election season. This would give Trump, the likely GOP candidate, greater chances in the race against the incumbent next fall.
McCarthy’s action on Tuesday also backtracks on his promise regarding impeachment — the Speaker vowed last week that such a move would only “occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person.” It’s unclear if a full vote of the House would have been successful, however, as it would have required McCarthy to win the support of moderate Republicans.
Polling indicates that most Americans don’t believe that Biden should be impeached. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted in mid-August found that 56 percent of voters would view impeachment proceedings against the president as a “political stunt,” while just 38 percent said they would be “a serious effort to investigate important problems.”
Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House, denounced McCarthy’s decision to pursue an inquiry against Biden in a thread on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.
“Opening impeachment despite zero evidence of wrongdoing by POTUS is simply red meat for the extreme rightwing so they can keep baselessly attacking him,” Sams wrote.
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