House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announces the opening of the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden at the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 12, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced on Sept. 12 that the House will open an impeachment inquiry to investigate the possible involvement of President Joe Biden in the business dealings of his son Hunter Biden.
“House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden's conduct. Taken together these allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption,” Mr. McCarthy said.
“Today I am directing our house committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. This logical next step will give our committees, the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public,” Mr. McCarthy said.
The investigation will be led by Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.), Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chairmen of the oversight, ways and means, and judiciary committees, respectively.
“We will go wherever the evidence takes us,” Mr. McCarthy.
Mr. McCarthy declined to answer reporters' questions at the conclusion of his statement.
White House spokesman for oversight and investigations Ian Sims called the move "extreme politics at its worst."
"House Republicans have been investigating the President for 9 months, and they've turned up no evidence of wrongdoing," Sims wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. "His own GOP members have said so. He vowed to hold a vote to open impeachment, now he flip-flopped because he doesn't have support."
McCarthy's announcement marks the second time that an impeachment inquiry has been launched in connection to the business dealings of Hunter Biden. The first impeachment of President Donald Trump revolved around his request to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Hunter Biden's work for a Ukrainian gas giant, Burisma. The Senate exonerated Trump of all charges.
President Trump was impeached a second time after leaving the White House in 2021 on charges related to his challenges to the outcome of the 2020 election.
The House Oversight Committee has an ongoing investigation into the Biden family and their alleged foreign business schemes. Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said on Sept. 7 that emails from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) were the "final straw" that would generate enough votes in the House to open an investigation.
The agency admitted in August that it held a large number of emails reportedly sent by President Joe Biden under pseudonymous email accounts while he was vice president, according to the conservative nonprofit Southeastern Legal Foundation.
The group filed a lawsuit against NARA, compelling the agency to hand over the roughly 5,400 emails potentially linked to the fake email accounts which were allegedly sent under three personal pseudonymous email accounts: Robin Ware, Robert L. Peters, and JRB Ware.
A spokesperson for NARA declined to comment on the alleged emails when contacted by The Epoch Times at the time.
Mr. McCarthy’s announcement came on the day the House resumed session following a nearly seven-week summer break. It is also 19 days from a government shutdown if the House and Senate cannot pass the 12 required appropriations bills to fund operations beyond Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Mr. McCarthy alleged that President Biden lied to the American people about his knowledge of his family's foreign business dealings. The speaker said that witnesses have testified that President Biden joined a number of phone calls and had other interactions that resulted in the flow of millions of dollars into the business accounts of Hunter Biden and his business partners.
“We know that bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates through various shell companies. The Treasury Department alone has more than 150 transactions involving the Biden family and other business associates that were flagged as suspicious activity by U.S. banks,” Mr. McCarthy said, adding that an FBI informant has alleged that a bribe was made to the Biden family.
“Despite the serious allegations, it appears that the president's family has been offered special treatment by Biden's own administration, treatment that not otherwise would have received if they were not related to the President,” Mr. McCarthy said. “These are allegations of abuse of power obstruction and corruption. And they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized the announcement, calling it "politics on steroids."
"There's no substance to this," Ms. Warren said. "This is all about speaker McCarthy bowing down to a handful of extremists who will cost him his job if he doesn't get just as wild and out there as they already are."
Jon Tester (D-Mont.) declined to criticize the investigation. Asked whether Mr. McCarthy’s decision to open the impeachment inquiry was appropriate, Mr. Tester told The Epoch Times, “That’s his call.”
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) was not surprised by the announcement, saying that “it's the Freedom Caucus that seems to be running the show” in the House.
“This is just another example that Speaker McCarthy cares more about being speaker than he believes in policy that's good for America,” Mr. Lujan told The Epoch Times.
Mr. McCarthy is facing pressure from hardliners in his own party over both spending cuts and the investigation into President Biden.
The federal government will shut down nonessential services if a 2024 funding agreement cannot be reached by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The speaker has said he favors a continuing resolution to keep the government funded while budget talks continue.
Hardliners in the speaker’s own party have spoken openly about forcing a government shutdown to add weight to their demands for spending cuts. Many Republican lawmakers have been supportive of the investigation.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said the inquiry could have been avoided if President Biden had been more willing to communicate about the matter.
“The inquiry follows the fact that Hunter Biden was shaking down foreign entities for millions of dollars. That's just ugly, and the White House has been silent about that has invited Hunter Biden to a state dinner, and has not indicated what it is the President knew. So there will be an inquiry,” Mr. Romney told reporters on Sept. 12.
Asked if he supports the inquiry, Mr. Romney said, "that's the House's undertaking."
"They're gonna have an inquiry. There's been no allegation of a high crime or misdemeanor that would meet the constitutional test," Mr. Romney said. "So that's a very different matter, and we'll see if that arises."
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said the decision to open an investigation was inevitable and had been made with a good deal of thought and preparation.
“I think it's about time,” Mr. Braun told The Epoch Times. “Sooner or later you'll have to do an inquiry like that to flush out the truth. This has been methodical. They put a lot of effort into it. And I'm glad he did it.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that the impeachment inquiry will enable Republicans to get to information that he and his Senate colleagues have been unable to obtain.
"But you know how much trouble I've had getting the information and they've carried this thing further than [Sen. Ron] Johnson and I have been able to do, because we haven't had subpoena power," Mr. Grassley said.
Some Republicans CautiousThe announcement marks an abrupt change from Mr. McCarthy’s statement less than two weeks ago that no impeachment inquiry would be opened without a vote on the House floor.
“To open an impeachment inquiry is a serious matter, and House Republicans would not take it lightly or use it for political purposes," Mr. McCarthy told Breitbart News on Sept. 1.
"The American people deserve to be heard on this matter through their elected representatives,” he continued. “That’s why, if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person.”
Such a vote may have had difficulty gaining the 218 votes needed for passage in the narrowly divided House, where Republicans hold just 222 seats.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) has voiced caution about proceeding toward impeachment. “The time for impeachment is the time when there’s evidence linking President Biden—if there’s evidence linking President Biden—to a high crime or misdemeanor. That doesn’t exist right now.”
Focus of InquiryThe inquiry into the Bidens’ business dealings has centered on Hunter Biden’s alleged use of his father’s name and influence as then-vice president to extract payments from foreign business entities—and what, if any, involvement President Biden may have had in those exchanges.
On May 10, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability released a number of documents that, they alleged, depicted a money laundering scheme involving millions of dollars from foreign entities passing on to President Joe Biden and nearly a dozen members of his family.
Mr. Comer, who chairs the committee, told reporters that stacks of suspicious activity reports obtained from the Treasury Department and information received from whistleblowers leave little doubt that the scheme's only product was selling access to the senior Biden during his vice presidential tenure and thereafter.
The panel released memoranda purporting to detail how more than $10 million was passed to President Joe Biden's family and their associates from Chinese and other sources during the mid-2010s.
On July 31, Devon Archer, an associate of Hunter Biden, appeared at a closed-door hearing of the committee and said that President Joe Biden had spoken to his son's business associates on multiple occasions. Mr. Archer and Hunter Biden both served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.
Mr. Archer said the Biden family "brand" helped to preserve Burisma by making people "intimidated to mess with them."
After the hearing, Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) downplayed the conversations between then-Vice President Biden and his son’s associates, saying the president had engaged in "casual conversation" with them "20 times over the course of a 10-year relationship" between Mr. Archer and the younger Biden.
For Mr. Comer, the testimony was proof that President Biden had been untruthful about the matter. “Devon Archer’s testimony today confirms Joe Biden lied to the American people when he said he had no knowledge about his son’s business dealings and was not involved.”
On Aug. 9, The committee released another memorandum on Aug. 9 related to the income allegedly received by Hunter Biden, this one showing some $11 million from sources in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.
Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter Biden, confirmed that there was an unspoken rule "[not to] mention Joe." Mr. Bobulinski also alleged that President Joe Biden received cash from his son's business dealings, referencing an email discovered on Hunter Biden's laptop that referred to a 10 percent cut for "the big guy."
Hunter’s TroublesHunter Biden faces a separate investigation into criminal charges by a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Mr. Garland, who was appointed by President Biden, announced on Aug. 11 that U.S. Attorney David Weiss would continue the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into the president's son.
The appointment was made after a federal judge questioned a plea deal offered to Hunter Biden on tax and firearms charges.
Under the plea agreement, Mr. Biden would have pled guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and have avoided prosecution on a felony gun charge by entering a diversion program.
The deal provoked suspicion that special treatment was being afforded Mr. Biden, who had failed to pay some $100,000 in income tax owed for each of two years when he had an income over $1.5 million. He had also been charged with knowingly possessing a firearm illegally.
On July 26, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika expressed “concerns” that the diversion agreement linked tax crimes to felony gun charges, which she said was "atypical" and "unprecedented." The plea deal was put on hold, and Mr. Biden pleaded not guilty to all charges.
2024President Donald Trump, who did not immediately respond to news of the impeachment, had called on the Republicans to begin impeachment proceedings days prior to Mr. McCarthy's announcement.
President Trump is running against President Biden for the White House in 2024. The impeachment inquiry adds another layer of uncertainty to the election suspense in full swing way ahead of the first primary contests.
State and federal prosecutors have brought charges against Trump in for separate cases in Florida, Georgia, Washington, and New York. Trump pleaded not guilty in each case and has committed to stay in the election regardless of the outcome.