House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced Tuesday that he has endorsed an impeachment inquiry into President Biden and overseas business deals by Biden’s 53-year-old son Hunter.
“I am directing our House Committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden,” McCarthy said at a news conference at the Capitol.
The Bidens have fostered a “culture of corruption,” McCarthy said, before rattling off a raft of financial figures he claimed are proof of wrongdoing.
McCarthy is pushing forward with the inquiry—which is intended to find out whether there is enough proof to bring articles of impeachment—while bypassing a full House vote, something he specifically lambasted former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for doing when Donald Trump was president. The decision was a reversal for McCarthy, who previously said he would take a vote on the matter. Normally, it would require 218 votes to proceed, and it is unclear that McCarthy would have had enough support from members of his own party.
“I don’t know that there have been any high crimes or misdemeanors alleged,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told Axios last week. “If there are, that would be a matter to consider, but until something like that is alleged, I don’t know what the purpose of that inquiry might be.”
When the outlet asked Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) if she thought there was sufficient evidence to impeach, she replied, “I do not.”
And Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, told CNN he hadn’t yet seen any proof that Biden profited from any foreign deals Hunter may have made.
The move by McCarthy signals a capitulation to some of the most extreme elements of the Republican conference, who threatened to paralyze Washington by blocking a debt limit resolution if Biden were not investigated. Both sides of the aisle must hammer out a deal by Sept. 30.
It’s also a major shot across the bow by House Republicans, who have long made noise about Hunter Biden trading off his father’s name, without concrete evidence of any wrongdoing by the president. Opening an inquiry means the GOP would be able to obtain materials such as the Bidens’ bank records—which White House officials say is little more than a fool’s errand.
The probe, McCarthy said, will be led by Republican Reps. James Comer, Jim Jordan, and Jason Smith. The three have made no secret of their deep support for Trump, whose daughter and son-in-law earned up to $640 million from private ventures while on the White House payroll. Hunter Biden, on the other hand, is not a government employee.
“This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public,” McCarthy said. “That’s exactly what we want to know—the answers.”
McCarthy made a number of extravagant claims on Tuesday, saying he and his colleagues have found evidence that the president “did lie to the American people about his own knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings.” He claimed to have proof of bribes and secret payments to unnamed Biden family members, and alleged unspecified “special treatment” given to certain relatives they supposedly “not otherwise would have received.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) spent the morning beefing with fellow MAGA true believer Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) over who should get credit for influencing McCarthy to take a step many see as, at best, premature.
But for all the bluster and hyperbole, many of the “new” claims of Biden corruption and wrongdoing are merely warmed-over conspiracy theories that have long been debunked, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). In a preemptive statement released on Monday, Raskin said Republicans have obtained “enormous amounts of evidence” that, far from bolstering their case, in fact, it “proves the opposite.”
The GOP has been digging into Hunter Biden’s personal and business affairs since before his father was elected. And although he has not, by any definition, lived a sparkling-clean life, his worst legal troubles thus far have centered on a pair of misdemeanor tax offenses and a felony gun charge.
“Rather than admit this unavoidable truth about their failed investigation, House Republicans have mischaracterized, cherry-picked, and concealed evidence and recycled long debunked conspiracy theories originally peddled by Rudy Giuliani and Trump, all in humiliating subservience to Donald Trump’s petulant demand that they impeach President Biden,” Raskin’s statement said.
McCarthy, for his part, argued that Americans “deserve to know that the public offices are not for sale, and that the federal government is not being used to cover up the actions of a politically associated family,” ignoring the inextricable links between the Trump administration, the Trump family, and the Trump family businesses, which overtly profited off the Trump presidency. Trump famously refused to hold his assets in a blind trust for the four years he was in office, his businesses “fused” to his presidency, as Politico put it.
In an emailed statement, Ian Sams, special assistant to the president and senior adviser and spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office, said, “House Republicans have been investigating the President for 9 months, and they’ve turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. His own Republican members have said so. He vowed to hold a vote to open impeachment, now he flip flopped because he doesn't have support. This is extreme politics at its worst.”
Earlier in the day, Sams took to X, formerly Twitter, to vent his frustrations.
“McCarthy is being told by Marjorie Taylor Greene to do impeachment, or else she’ll shut down the government,” Sams posted a few hours prior to McCarthy’s announcement. “Opening impeachment despite zero evidence of wrongdoing by POTUS is simply red meat for the extreme rightwing so they can keep baselessly attacking him. They admit it.”
—With additional reporting by Zach Petrizzo