House Moves to Formalize Impeachment Investigation Into Joe Biden
The vote broke along partisan lines as GOP seeks evidence of Biden’s misdeeds
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: Dec 14, 2023
The U.S. House of Representatives voted along partisan lines Wednesday evening to formalize an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. (Photo via Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives)
By Jacob Gardenswartz
Special to the Wyoming Truth
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday moved to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, codifying Republicans’ yearlong investigation despite a lack of any significant evidence of presidential wrongdoing.
The 221–212 vote broke entirely along partisan lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of formalizing the inquiry and all Democrats opposed. The vote took place three months to the day since House GOP leaders announced launched a probe without a vote, reneging from their previously stated position that an impeachment investigation could not begin without approval of the congressional chamber.
Republican leaders say the vote was necessary to compel the White House to participate in their investigation.
“When you have a majority of the House of Representatives go on-record, that sends a message,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in remarks on the floor Wednesday. “We think we [can] get timely participation from the witnesses we need to talk to and the documents [House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James] Comer [R-Ky.] has been seeking.”
Democrats, meanwhile, decried the move as a partisan stunt, tying Republicans’ investigation to the Jan. 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to retain power after the 2020 election.
“Today’s impeachment inquiry vote is indeed part of the continuing effort to deny Joe Biden the office of President of the United States,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, told reporters at a press conference. “This ridiculous impeachment drive continues the effort to keep Biden from being able to do his presidential duties.”
Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.), who has long been pushing for Biden’s impeachment, touted the move as a necessary step in a post-vote statement.
“By formalizing the inquiry that is already underway, the legal ambiguity of the investigation will be removed and the ability to enforce subpoenas will be enhanced,” Hageman said. “Every Member of Congress, regardless of party, should have the intellectual curiosity to want answers to the inconsistencies that have been uncovered and the evidence that has been building.”
GOP rhetoric of Biden’s crimes far outpaces evidence
Republicans have yet to discover any concrete evidence of crimes committed by Biden — certainly nothing approaching the “high crimes and misdemeanors” threshold established by the U.S. Constitution.
The GOP investigation has so far focused most of its scrutiny on the president’s son, Hunter Biden, a recovering drug addict who was recently indicted on federal tax and gun charges after a previous plea deal negotiated with the Department of Justice fell apart earlier this year.
But despite combing through over 36,000 pages of bank records, 2,000 pages of suspicious activity reports from the Treasury Department and dozens of hours of testimony from the younger Biden’s close associates and federal agents investigating him, no smoking gun has yet emerged.
Chief among Republicans’ allegations is that the younger Biden cashed in on his father’s influence; Hunter Biden worked as a board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma during the time his father was serving as vice president, and Republicans allege the Bidens were bribed by the company to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing a prosecutor investigating it.
But while the prosecutor in question was fired, officials throughout the government and abroad have said he was let go for failing to investigate corruption in his own country, and officials pushed for his removal well before then-Vice President Biden weighed in on the issue.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has nonetheless accused the president of corruption, calling attention to a number of payments made between Biden and his family members; Biden has countered that such transactions were personal loans he made to his son and brother, providing banking records to back up such claims.
When pressed, Republicans have struggled to point to specific examples of Biden’s allegedly corrupt actions. Asked on Fox Business News whether there was any evidence the president enacted policy changes in exchange for foreign payments, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) dodged: “Well, we’ll have to— that’ll be part of the investigation,” she said.
And some GOP lawmakers have gone so far as to comment on the lack of evidence surrounding Biden’s alleged crimes. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who himself spearheaded a Senate investigation into Biden’s wrongdoing, told a CNN reporter shortly before the impeachment vote that “the facts haven’t taken me to that point where I can say that the President is guilty of anything.”
Hunter Biden, for his part, was scheduled to appear for closed-door testimony Wednesday morning in response to a subpoena issued last month. Yet he failed to comply, suggesting he was willing to testify publicly but not in private for fear Republican investigators might misrepresent his testimony.
On the steps of the Capitol, the younger Biden, who historically has avoided commenting publicly on his investigation, delivered a fervent defense of his father.
“Let me state as clearly as I can: my father was not financially involved in my business,” he said. “In the depths of my addiction, I was extremely irresponsible with my finances. But to suggest that is grounds for an impeachment inquiry is beyond the absurd. It’s shameless.”
Still, GOP leaders show no intent on reversing course. Jordan on Wednesday announced his intentions to begin contempt of Congress proceedings against Hunter Biden for failing to comply with the subpoena.
And responding to the impeachment vote, President Biden avoided the topic of his son altogether, instead painting the GOP as focused on politics amid domestic and international crises, as government funding runs low and the war in Israel and Gaza continues to escalate.
“There is a lot of work to be done. But after wasting weeks trying to find a new Speaker of the House and having to expel their own members, Republicans in Congress are leaving for a month without doing anything to address these pressing challenges,” Biden said in a White House statement. “The American people deserve better. I know what I am going to remain focused on. I would invite Republicans in Congress to join me.”