House Republicans approve Biden impeachment probe, as president slams ‘baseless political stunt’


The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday authorized the impeachment inquiry into U.S. 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 misdemeanours,” which can lead to removal from office if convicted in a U.S. Senate trial.

Biden, in a rare statement about the impeachment effort, questioned the priorities of House Republicans in pursuing an inquiry against him and his family.

“Instead of doing anything to help make Americans’ lives better, they are focused on attacking me with lies,” the president said following the vote.

“Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political stunt that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts.”

Authorizing the months-long inquiry ensures that the impeachment investigation extends well into 2024, when Biden will be running for re-election and seems likely to be squaring off against former U.S. 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.

Speaker, team under pressure to show progress

The decision to hold a vote came as Speaker Mike Johnson and his 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.c

“We do not take this responsibility lightly and will not prejudge the investigation’s outcome,” Johnson and his leadership team said in a joint statement after the vote. 

House Democrats rose in opposition to the inquiry resolution Wednesday, calling it a farce perpetrated by those across the aisle to avenge the two impeachments against Trump.

“This whole thing is an extreme political stunt. It has no credibility, no legitimacy, and no integrity. It is a sideshow,” Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, 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 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 toward impeachment proceedings be considered.”

Legal considerations

Most of the Republicans reluctant to back the impeachment push have also been swayed by leadership’s 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.

WATCH | Biden impeachment inquiry could pose distraction during presidential election: 

House Republicans approve Biden impeachment inquiry

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans used their majority to approve a formal impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, despite the fact they’ve failed to present any evidence linking him to a crime.

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.”

Rep. Dusty Johnson, a Republican from South Dakota, 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, a Nebraska Republican, 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.”

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