By Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose
(Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Wednesday said Republicans wanted to impeach him because they want to shut down the government, hours after the White House denounced plans to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the inquiry a "political stunt" and said no evidence has been produced by Republicans against Biden as they investigate the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.
The inquiry is centered around whether Biden benefited from Hunter Biden's business dealings.
Biden said that when Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican lawmaker and staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, was first elected to the U.S. Congress, she said the first thing she wanted to do was impeach him.
"I don't know quite why, but they just knew they wanted to impeach me," Biden told donors at a fundraiser in Virginia. "Now, the best I can tell, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government."
Biden said he does not focus on the impeachment inquiry. "I get up every day, not a joke, not focused on impeachment. I've got a job to do," he said.
The White House has blamed Taylor Greene into pressuring House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in Washington, to order the impeachment inquiry.
McCarthy's move sets the stage for months of divisive House hearings that could distract from lawmakers' efforts to pass spending bills and avoid a government shutdown and could supercharge the 2024 presidential race, in which Trump hopes to avenge his 2020 election loss to Biden and win back the White House.
"This is an entire exercise of how to do this in an illegitimate way. ... It is going after the president politically, not about the truth," Jean-Pierre said.
She said Republicans have turned up no evidence that Biden did anything wrong "because the president didn’t do anything wrong."
(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Nandita Bose and Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Diane Craft and Leslie Adler)