House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday that Republicans will open an official impeachment inquiry of President Biden, even though there has been public resistance from some conservative members of Congress.
McCarthy, a California Republican, is under pressure from hard-right Republicans to support impeaching the president. Republicans say Biden was connected to his son Hunter’s business deals with foreign partners but have not yet provided proof of this.
McCarthy said in a brief statement to the press that Republican investigations have so far uncovered a "culture of corruption" and that the GOP needs more information to ensure that "the public offices are not for sale."
White House spokesman Ian Sams responded that "House Republicans have been investigating the president for nine months, and they've turned up no evidence of wrongdoing." Sams added that the move was "extreme politics at its worst."
Will Biden be removed from the presidency?
No. Republicans need 218 votes, a majority in the House, to pass an impeachment resolution. That would not remove the president. It would send the matter to the Senate, where as of today there is no chance of gaining 66 votes to force Biden from office. Impeaching Biden would be largely a political move intended to damage the president’s standing with the public.
But a vote in the full House would not come first. In fact, it might be months before such a vote is held.
Read more on Yahoo News: Explaining the Hunter Biden story
When Democrats impeached former President Donald Trump in 2019, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., opened an official inquiry on Sept. 24, 2019, but a full vote in the House did not come for nearly three more months, on Dec. 18.
Even the opening of an official impeachment inquiry came after Pelosi had talked about the likelihood of impeachment for months.
What comes next?
McCarthy directed three committees — House Judiciary, under Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; House Oversight, under Chairman James Comer, R-Ky.; and House Ways and Means, under Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo. — to head the impeachment inquiry.
They will request documents from the White House, will seek testimony under oath in private depositions, and would be expected to hold public hearings after their initial investigation is complete.
In 2019, Pelosi referred the matter to six House committees, but most of the impeachment work took place in the House Intelligence Committee under its then-chairman, California Democrat Adam Schiff.
What are they trying to impeach Biden for?
Comer’s committee has uncovered a fair number of details about Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals. The evidence strongly suggests that Hunter traded on his family name to enrich himself to the tune of around $7 million while his father was vice president.
Republicans have not shown that U.S. government decisions were altered to benefit the Biden family, or that Joe Biden may have received bribes, or that there are direct links between him and Hunter’s business deals, discussions or payments.
However, they have found that Joe Biden sometimes called Hunter while the younger man was dining with business associates. And Joe Biden also attended at least two dinners in 2014 and 2015 with foreign individuals who paid Hunter millions of dollars.
To date, Republicans have not found any evidence that Joe Biden discussed business deals on those calls or in those meetings.
Hunter Biden is facing criminal prosecution for tax evasion and illegal possession of a firearm. An indictment is expected later this month.
Read more on Yahoo News: Hunter Biden’s misdeeds continue to haunt the president
Comer, in particular, has made numerous comments about President Biden that do not match up with the evidence Republicans have gathered. For example, Comer and his committee have claimed that the “Biden family” has taken more than $20 million “from bad people.”
A Washington Post examination of bank records released by the House Oversight Committee put the number at $7 million and found that almost all that money went to Hunter Biden.
Republican resistance to impeachment
McCarthy's opening of an impeachment inquiry does not mean there is enough Republican support to pass a resolution today.
The speaker would not want to launch the process at all if he thought a vote would fail. He would want to have some measure of confidence that a months-long process of depositions and hearings would eventually get him to a place where 218 Republicans, out of a total of 222, would vote in favor.
A failed impeachment inquiry vote would hurt the GOP politically, essentially backfiring in their faces.
“Launching a futile effort to impeach Biden is a sideshow that can only hurt conservative chances to win and reform the country,” wrote Henry Olsen, a conservative commentator.
But McCarthy is under pressure from hard-right Republicans who may try to remove him from leadership through a "motion to vacate" procedure.
A few Republican House members have been outspoken about the lack of evidence so far to impeach Biden.
“We can waste our time on issues that are not important or we can focus on issues that are,” said Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., this past weekend. “There is not a strong connection at this point between the evidence on Hunter Biden and any evidence connecting the president.”