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BIG trouble for Biden as US House presses impeachment inquiry into President's role in family business dealing

The decision to hold a vote came as House Speaker Mike Johnson and his leadership team faced growing pressure to show progress in what has become a nearly yearlong probe centred around the business dealings of Biden's family members.

Ajeet Kumar Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Washington Published on: December 14, 2023 7:21 IST
US President Joe Biden
Image Source : AP US President Joe Biden

Biden impeachment: The House on Wednesday authorised the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, with every Republican rallying behind the politically charged process despite lingering concerns among some in the party that the investigation has yet to produce evidence of misconduct by the president.

The 221-212 party-line vote put the entire House Republican conference on record in support of an impeachment process that can lead to the ultimate penalty for a president: punishment for what the Constitution describes as “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which can lead to removal from office if convicted in a Senate trial.

Authorising the months-long inquiry ensures that the impeachment investigation extends well into 2024, when Biden will be running for reelection and seems likely to be squaring off against former President Donald Trump — who was twice impeached during his time in the White House. Trump has pushed his GOP allies in Congress to move swiftly on impeaching Biden, part of his broader calls for vengeance and retribution against his political enemies.

Probe centred around the business dealings of Biden's family members

The decision to hold a vote came as House Speaker Mike Johnson and his leadership team faced growing pressure to show progress in what has become a nearly yearlong probe centred around the business dealings of Biden's family members. While their investigation has raised ethical questions, no evidence has emerged that Biden acted corruptly or accepted bribes in his current role or previous office as vice president.

Ahead of the vote, Johnson called it “the next necessary step" and acknowledged there are “a lot of people who are frustrated this hasn't moved faster.“

In a recent statement, the White House called the whole process a “baseless fishing expedition” that Republicans are pushing ahead with “despite the fact that members of their own party have admitted there is no evidence to support impeaching President Biden.” House Democrats rose in opposition to the inquiry resolution Wednesday.

"Political stunt", says some Republicans 

“This whole thing is an extreme political stunt. It has no credibility, no legitimacy, and no integrity. It is a sideshow," Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said during a floor debate.

Some House Republicans, particularly those hailing from politically divided districts, had been hesitant in recent weeks to take any vote on Biden's impeachment, fearing a significant political cost. But GOP leaders have made the case in recent weeks that the resolution is only a step in the process, not a decision to impeach Biden. That message seems to have won over skeptics.

“As we have said numerous times before, voting in favour of an impeachment inquiry does not equal impeachment,” Rep. Tom Emmer, a member of the GOP leadership team, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Emmer said Republicans “will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead, and if they uncover evidence of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours, then and only then will the next steps towards impeachment proceedings be considered.”

Most of the Republicans reluctant to back the impeachment push have also been swayed by leadership's recent argument that authorizing the inquiry will give them better legal standing as the White House has questioned the legal and constitutional basis for their requests for information.

A letter last month from a top White House attorney to Republican committee leaders portrayed the GOP investigation as overzealous and illegitimate because the chamber had not yet authorized a formal impeachment inquiry by a vote of the full House.

Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, also wrote that when Trump faced the prospect of impeachment by a Democratic-led House in 2019, Johnson had said at the time that any inquiry without a House vote would be a “sham.”

Some Republicans opposed impeachment 

Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said this week that while there was no evidence to impeach the president, “that's also not what the vote this week would be about.”

“We have had enough political impeachments in this country,” he said. “I don't like the stonewalling the administration has done, but listen, if we don't have the receipts, that should constrain what the House does long-term.”

Rep.Don Bacon, R-Neb., who has long been opposed to moving forward with impeachment, said that the White House questioning the legitimacy of the inquiry without a formal vote helped gain his support. “I can defend an inquiry right now,” he told reporters this week. "Let's see what they find out.” House Democrats remained unified in their opposition to the impeachment process, saying it is a farce used by the GOP to take attention away from Trump and his legal woes.

Congressional investigators have obtained nearly 40,000 pages of subpoenaed bank records and dozens of hours of testimony from key witnesses, including several high-ranking Justice Department officials currently tasked with investigating the president's son, Hunter Biden.

While Republicans say their inquiry is ultimately focused on the president himself, they have taken particular interest in Hunter Biden and his overseas business dealings, from which they accuse the president of personally benefiting. Republicans have also focused a large part of their investigation on whistleblower allegations of interference in the long-running Justice Department investigation into the younger Biden's taxes and his gun use.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Joe Biden faces impeachment probe ahead of US Presidential Election 2024

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