Impeachment Inquiry into Joe Biden
House Republicans launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden on allegations that his family was involved in illegal business dealings (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Wikimedia Commons)
On September 12, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability initiated an impeachment inquiry into current U.S. President Joe Biden, connecting him to the uncertain business activities of his son, Hunter Biden. During the initial hearing on September 28, House Republicans presented their evidence thus far.
What is an Impeachment Inquiry?
An impeachment inquiry is a formal investigation into the conduct of a current officeholder, allowing the House Judiciary Committee to call public hearings and subpoena documents. This step is necessary before articles of impeachment can be drafted, a process that requires a majority vote in the House. If the Senate then votes to convict, the officeholder is removed from their position.
Historically, an impeachment inquiry is voted on by the full House, but this trend was broken during former president Donald Trump’s impeachment. In alignment with this new trend, the Biden administration inquiry was initiated by former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy with an announcement early last month.
What is Joe Biden Accused Of?
In preparation for the hearing, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability unveiled thousands of financial records and other pertinent information. Among their accusations, one claim pertains to $20 million in payments from 23 countries, which were received by the Biden family between 2014 and 2019. Republicans allege the family sold the “Biden Image” to gain international support and enrich themselves. Furthermore, Republicans claim that Biden took a bribe from a Ukrainian energy company and established up to 20 shell companies to receive the money. Each of these actions constitutes “influence peddling” (the practice of using a political position to influence someone in exchange for money or favors). In sum, Republicans’ allegations, although yet to be proven, center around the suggestion that Biden lied to the American public about knowledge of his son’s business dealings.
The First Hearing
During the first hearing, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability called four witnesses. Notably, several of the witnesses believe that there is not enough evidence to impeach Biden so far. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said in his prepared speech, “I have previously stated that, while I believe that an impeachment inquiry is warranted, I do not believe that the evidence currently meets the standard of a high crime and misdemeanor needed for an article of impeachment.” An expert on impeachment proceedings, Turley corroborated the statements of two other witnesses, forensic accountant Bruce Dubinsky and law professor Michael Gerhardt. Republicans and Democrats alike have said they were disappointed by the lack of declaratory evidence.
The fourth witness, former Justice Department official Eileen O’Connor, said she believes that Hunter Biden’s criminal business dealings have not been fully investigated because of his relation to Joe Biden. This testimony is the basis for the Republican belief that the Biden family is getting special treatment by the law. Republicans say an impeachment inquiry was initiated because other investigations into the family have been shut down, and the official title of an inquiry will give them the power to collect information.
However, at the time of the hearing, there were about two days until the U.S. government would have to shut down, leaving thousands of Americans without pay. Democratic Representative Summer Lee of Pennsylvania spent part of her speaking time listing the economic impact of a shutdown on the districts of Representative Jim Jordan, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, and other committee members. In the eyes of Lee and other Democrats, the impeachment hearing only served as a distraction from the importance of keeping the government in action.
Donald Trump’s Involvement
So far, Donald Trump has created more separation between himself and the inquiry than many expected. While the White House continues to suggest that House Republicans initiated the inquiry on orders from Trump, this does not seem to be fully true. Trump has been much more focused on his legal proceedings. Although, he has threatened to appoint a special prosecutor to the case if he is reelected as president.
Still, from what Trump has said, he believes the impeachment of Joe Biden would even the playing field between Republicans and Democrats. He has gone as far as saying the Republican party should invent 91 criminal charges for Biden as well. In Trump’s opinion, following his impeachment three years ago, there will be many more indictments in the future, many focused on revenge more than the crime committed.
Effects on the 2024 Presidential Race
Unsurprisingly, the impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden has not changed the 2024 presidential race significantly. The American public is divided on party lines about whether or not Biden has committed a crime, so support for either party not changed significantly. Seventy-one percent of Democrats still plan to vote for Biden’s reelection despite the inquiry. As seen in the impeachment of Donald Trump, inquiries into presidential wrongdoing are not changing the opinions of voters significantly in the current political climate. Unless major evidence is revealed between now and November, it seems Biden will be facing off for the presidency with the same vigor as he would without the inquiry in place.
Since the first hearing, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been removed from his position, but Republicans still plan to continue with the investigation now that a new speaker has been selected. In this aim, the committee is issuing subpoenas for the bank records of Hunter Biden, James Biden, and their business partner Eric Schwerin, as wel as associated companies, including Owasco P.C., Owasko LLC, Skaneateles, Lion Hall Group, and JBBSR Inc. Democrats are urging the committee to put American politician and lawyer Rudy Giuliani and businessman Lev Parnas on the stand because they did not find any connection between Biden and Ukraine during their 2019 investigation. It is unclear when another hearing will happen and whether enough information will be found on President Joe Biden for the House to impeach, but it will surely become clear in the coming months.
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