House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took the first formal step toward impeaching President Joe Biden over his family’s business dealings, a politically charged move urged by Republican hardliners that will cast a shadow on the 2024 election.
(Bloomberg) — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took the first formal step toward impeaching President Joe Biden over his family’s business dealings, a politically charged move urged by Republican hardliners that will cast a shadow on the 2024 election.
The process begins with an investigation by three House committees as Republicans seek to amass evidence for an impeachment vote by the full chamber. If the House votes to impeach Biden, the case moves to a trial of the president in the Democratic-led Senate.
For many ultra-conservatives, McCarthy’s move is fitting retribution for the House impeachments of Donald Trump in 2019 and 2021. But moderates in the party, many of whom hail from areas Biden carried in 2020, are proceeding with caution — especially since the case so far against the president is murky.
Senate Republicans also aren’t completely sold on impeachment. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said Tuesday he doesn’t think “it’d be advantageous” to force a Senate trial of Biden.
The probe marks the third time since 2019 the House has moved toward impeaching a US president, a remarkable run considering only three of the country’s chief executives — Trump, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson — have ever been impeached. Here’s what we know so far:
What’s this all about?
Republicans accuse Hunter Biden, the president’s son, of cashing in on his family’s name and that Joe Biden directly engaged with his son’s international clients when he was vice president. Democrats say there’s no evidence Biden took any action to influence Hunter’s business or personally benefited financially from his son’s dealings.
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Republicans also raise questions about why three Biden family members made millions from Chinese entities. Democrats say there is no evidence the transactions, which were made public in 2020, involve any wrongdoing and don’t involve the president.
Who’s in charge?
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, who has launched a string of investigations this year, is leading the inquiry. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most voracious defenders on Capitol Hill during his two impeachments, will work with Comer, as will Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith.
What happens next?
If Republicans determine the inquiry provides evidence justifying impeachment, the Judiciary Committee would hear witness testimony and further investigate. That panel would need a simple majority to take impeachment articles to the floor, culminating in a vote of the full House.
If Biden were impeached, the Democratic-led Senate would be required to hold a trial and vote on whether to convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors. It would almost certainly fail.
Does McCarthy have full GOP support?
McCarthy is bypassing a House vote to move to an impeachment inquiry, which protects moderate Republicans and also insulates him against a floor failure before the probe goes further.
Eighteen House Republicans are from districts Biden won in 2020, including five he won by double digits. Many of those lawmakers are leery of backing an impeachment inquiry unless there is clear evidence.
Is there a spillover effect on the 2024 election?
The inquiry gives Republicans ammunition against Biden as Trump, their frontrunner for the 2024 nomination, faces four separate criminal trials. But the GOP has just a 10-seat House majority and alienating swing-district voters could cost them control of the chamber next year.
In the Senate, Democrats have a 51-49 majority but Republicans hope to pick up seats in seven competitive states. Senate Republicans say the party is better off focusing on the economy and jobs under Biden, and not an impeachment effort that is unlikely to result in a conviction.
–With assistance from Billy House.
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