In a surprising turn of events, Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday last week that he was instructing House Republicans to initiate an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Speaking from the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy delivered a concise formal statement, stating, “Today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” McCarthy chose not to field questions from the assembled reporters.
McCarthy’s previous stance had suggested that there would be a full House vote to initiate an impeachment inquiry, as had been the practice in previous instances. However, as of Tuesday, it appeared that McCarthy did not have the necessary support to hold such a vote. A spokesperson for McCarthy confirmed that there would not be a vote to kickstart the impeachment inquiry.
This move had been foreshadowed by McCarthy for several weeks. Part of the motivation appeared to be an effort to appease staunch GOP members and gain access to financial records and documents related to President Biden and his son, Hunter. McCarthy elucidated his rationale on Tuesday, saying, “This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather the full facts and answers for the American public. That’s exactly what we want to know—the answers. I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations as well.”
The individuals selected to lead the impeachment inquiry were also disclosed by McCarthy. He designated House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith for this role.
House Republicans had been engaged in investigations for several months, attempting to establish links between President Biden and his son’s business dealings. However, no concrete evidence of wrongdoing by the president had been uncovered. McCarthy revealed that House Republicans, during the August recess, had come across what he termed as “serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct.” When viewed collectively, these allegations painted a picture, in McCarthy’s words, of “a culture of corruption.”
Speaker McCarthy emphasized the gravity of his decision, stating, “I do not make this decision lightly. Regardless of your party, or who you voted for, these facts concern all Americans.”
Responding to McCarthy’s call for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden, White House spokesperson Ian Sams commented, “House Republicans have been investigating the President for 9 months, and they’ve turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. 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. Extreme politics at its worst.”
Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, expressed his perspective on McCarthy’s actions, saying, “McCarthy has shown he will do anything to hold on to his gavel,” including launching an impeachment inquiry “based on repackaged, inaccurate conspiracies about Hunter Biden and his legitimate business activities.”
After leaving the House floor, McCarthy spoke to reporters once more, reiterating the importance of initiating an impeachment inquiry as a means to access more information. When asked if he believed President Biden had committed an impeachable offense, McCarthy replied, “All I’ve said is an impeachment inquiry allows us to get answers to get questions that are out there. Don’t you think the public wants answers?”
Former President Donald Trump had privately discussed an impeachment inquiry into President Biden with House Republicans, according to sources. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of Republican leadership, spoke with Trump and updated him on the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday afternoon, according to two sources.
Senate Republicans are scheduled to be briefed by Reps. Jordan and Comer during their lunch on Wednesday, confirming the seriousness of the matter. This briefing will be the first direct exposure to the evidence that Jordan and Comer claim to have uncovered, which could be pivotal for senators seeking more information about the House’s findings before making decisions on supporting further actions.
In a joint statement, Comer, Jordan, and Smith expressed their support for the impeachment inquiry, asserting, “The House Committees on Oversight and Accountability, Judiciary, and Ways and Means will continue to work to follow the facts to ensure President Biden is held accountable for abusing public office for his family’s financial gain. The American people demand and deserve answers, transparency, and accountability for this blatant abuse of public office.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, one of seven Senate Republicans who voted in 2021 to remove former President Donald Trump from office due to his involvement in the January 6 insurrection, endorsed the use of an impeachment inquiry to gain access to more information regarding President Biden’s business dealings. Romney explained, “The fact that the White House has been singularly silent and has coddled Hunter Biden suggests an inquiry is not inappropriate. That’s very different than an impeachment, an actual impeachment would require the evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor that has not been alleged. But inquiring is something the president and the White House could have avoided.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings for years, emphasized the distinction between an inquiry and an impeachment, stating, “An inquiry is an inquiry, it’s not an impeachment. And it seems to me it will open up an avenue to get a lot of information that we feel we’ve been stonewalled.”
Regarding the impeachment inquiry’s timing, this development arises as McCarthy aims to prevent a potential revolt from conservative hardliners and avert a government shutdown.
The House resumed its session on Tuesday, facing an impending September 30 deadline to pass a spending measure to keep the government operational. House Republican leaders are currently considering the passage of a continuing resolution, or a short-term funding extension, to provide additional time for negotiations on a comprehensive appropriations package.
However, members of the House Freedom Caucus, the same group that previously opposed McCarthy’s bid for the speakership and his debt limit agreement with President Biden, have indicated that they would not endorse a continuing resolution unless it includes specific provisions related to border security and the “weaponization of the DOJ.” Additionally, the group opposes further aid to Ukraine, potentially setting the House at odds with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
In the midst of this tension, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz publicly threatened to initiate a motion to vacate against McCarthy. Such a motion would compel a vote to determine McCarthy’s continued tenure as speaker. McCarthy downplayed the threat when speaking to reporters on Monday evening, stating that Gaetz “should go ahead and do it… Matt’s, Matt.” Gaetz reiterated this warning during a floor speech shortly after McCarthy’s announcement regarding the impeachment inquiry, describing McCarthy’s move as a “baby step” in response to pressure from House conservatives.