By LISA MASCARO and FARNOUSH AMIRI (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday that he will direct the U.S. House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden over his family’s business dealings, setting up a historic trial ahead of the 2024 election.
McCarthy said the House investigation so far “paints a picture of a culture of corruption” surrounding the Biden family, as Republicans investigate the president’s son Hunter Biden’s business dealings dating back to before the Democratic president took office.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption, and they require further investigation by the House of Representatives,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said at the Capitol, announcing he would lead the House oversight committee. to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.”
The White House fired back, calling the move “extreme politics at its worst” in the middle of the presidential campaign.
“House Republicans have been investigating the president for nine months and have found no evidence of wrongdoing,” said spokesman Ian Sams.
The White House and others pointed to McCarthy’s previous comments when he insisted that a speaker could not unilaterally launch an impeachment inquiry or it would have no legitimacy.
McCarthy “backed out because he didn’t have support,” Sams said.
In fact, the Republican leader is facing increasing pressure from his right to take action against Biden or risk being ousted from his leadership post – all while struggling to pass legislation needed to stop a shutdown of the federal government to prevent at the end of the month.
McCarthy is launching the investigation on his own, without a vote in the House, and it is unclear whether he would even get enough support for approval from his narrow GOP majority. Some Republicans say the effort is unwarranted because they see no evidence that meets the Constitution’s threshold for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
An investigation is a step toward impeachment, and McCarthy essentially outlined the possible charges as he prepared to brief lawmakers behind closed doors this week. The investigation is being led by Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer in coordination with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and Ways & Means Chairman Jason Smith. They are making their way through the Capitol on Wednesday to brief the Senate.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has warned House Republicans against the attempt, but said Tuesday: “I don’t think Speaker McCarthy needs the advice of the Senate.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the impeachment inquiry “absurd.”
The Republican speaker is once again at a political crossroads – trying to please his most conservative lawmakers and save his own job. It’s a familiar political quandary for McCarthy, who is juggling the impeachment inquiry and the threat of a government shutdown with no clear end result.
On September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year, federal funding runs out and Congress must pass new funding legislation or risk a shutdown and disruption of government services.
Minutes after McCarthy spoke, a key Republican critic stood on the House floor, deriding the investigation as just a “small step” and repeating threats to oust the speaker. “We need to move faster,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
The White House has insisted that Biden was not involved in his son’s business dealings. And Democrats are stepping up the fight against what they say are unfounded allegations against him ahead of the 2024 election, while Republicans are trying to blur the lines with Donald Trump, who is the Republican front-runner in a comeback bid for the White House.
Former President Trump was impeached twice by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate. Now he faces more serious charges in court; he has been indicted four times this year, including for trying to overturn the election won by Biden in 2020.
Republicans in the House of Representatives are investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings, but so far have provided no clear evidence of a connection between them and the president. They showed some examples, most notably during the time when the elder Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president, when he spoke on the phone with his son and stopped by dinners his son hosted with business associates.
An impeachment inquiry would add weight to the House investigation, especially as the oversight committee fights in court for access to the Biden family’s financial records.
Republicans claim the Justice Department did not fully investigate the allegations against Hunter Biden and say he received preferential treatment in a so-called sweetheart plea deal that recently collapsed. The Justice Department has appointed a special prosecutor for this investigation.
“We will go where the evidence takes us,” McCarthy said.
Comer, the Kentucky regulatory chairman, is investigating the Biden family’s finances and is expected to seek bank records from Hunter Biden as the panel tries to trace the flow of money.
On Tuesday, Comer asked the State Department to produce documents about the work Biden did as vice president during the Obama administration to clean up corruption in Ukraine. Comer wants to understand the State Department’s views on former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, whom Biden and many Western allies sought to remove from office over corruption allegations.
This comes as federal funding is set to expire on September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year, and Congress must pass new funding legislation or risk a shutdown and disruption of government services.
Conservatives, who make up McCarty’s majority, want to cut spending, and the far right is unwilling to approve the spending levels the speaker negotiated with Biden earlier this year.
McCarthy is trying to launch a 30-day stopgap measure to keep the government running until November 1, but the Conservatives are resisting a so-called continuing resolution (CR) as they seek cuts.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said late Monday as she left McCarthy’s office that she had “red lines” against any new money spent on COVID-19 vaccines or mandates or the war in Ukraine.
And Florida’s Gaetz, a top Trump ally, said that if McCarthy submits a continuing resolution for passage, he will be rebuffed by conservatives with a request to resign from the presidency and be removed from office.
It will be a “shot chaser,” Gaetz warned. “Continued Resolution, Motion to Repeal.”
Earlier this year, Gaetz and other Republicans secured endorsements from McCarthy as he struggled to win their votes for House speaker.
Under House rules, McCarthy’s opponents can call a vote at any time to try to remove him from the speaker’s position.
Associated Press writers Stephen Groves, Kevin Freking and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
https://www.twincities.com/2023/09/12/speaker-mccarthy-directs-the-house-to-open-an-impeachment-inquiry-into-president-biden/ Speaker McCarthy directs the House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden – Twin Cities