Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday directed House committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden based on the House GOP’s investigations of his family’s foreign business dealings and the prosecution of his son Hunter Biden.
“Today, I am directing our House committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden,” McCarthy said in a brief statement at the Capitol on Tuesday.
McCarthy said the probe will be led by House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) in coordination with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.), who have been leading the investigations.
“I do not make this decision lightly. And regardless of your party, or who you voted for these facts should concern all Americans,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy’s formal endorsement of impeachment comes after weeks of him saying that he thought the House probes would eventually develop into an impeachment inquiry.
In the months that the House Oversight Committee has been investigating the Biden business dealings, it has not found that Biden directly financially benefited from his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, or proved that he made any policy decisions because of them.
Another portion of the House GOP probes center on whether the federal investigation into Hunter Biden, who has been charged with failure to pay income tax and unlawful possession of a firearm, was “slow-walked,” as two whistleblower IRS agents have testified to the House GOP.
The White House, which has vehemently pushed back on GOP efforts to launch an impeachment inquiry, said earlier on Tuesday that moving to a formal investigation is “red meat” for the Republican base.
“Opening impeachment despite zero evidence of wrongdoing by POTUS is simply red meat for the extreme rightwing so they can keep baselessly attacking him,” Ian Sams, White House spokesman for oversight and investigations, wrote on X.
McCarthy in 2019 criticized former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for declaring the start of an impeachment inquiry without a formal House vote. But on Tuesday, McCarthy did not say whether there would be a formal House vote on launching an inquiry — despite previously vowing to hold one.
The Speaker told Breitbart News in a statement earlier this month that if the House moved forward on 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.”
A spokesman for McCarthy told The Hill: “He opened the inquiry.”
Sams on Tuesday accused McCarthy of flip-flipping on the matter.
“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,” he wrote on X.
If McCarthy does try to move forward with a formal House vote, it will be tricky.
He is already facing resistance to the idea of an impeachment inquiry from a number of moderates, putting into question whether he would have the votes to launch the probe. With Democrats expected to oppose the effort, McCarthy can only afford to lose a small number of Republican votes in the slim GOP majority.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) — who represents a district Biden won in 2020, and has been against an impeachment inquiry for weeks — re-upped his opposition Tuesday morning.
“As of now I don’t support [an impeachment inquiry],” Bacon said Tuesday morning.
“I think an inquiry should be based on evidence of a crime that points directly to President Biden, or if the President doesn’t cooperate by not providing documents,” he added. “There’s clearly corruption with Hunter using his dad’s name to earn tens of millions of dollars. But impeachment needs to be about the dad, not the son. Many of us don’t want to see impeachment become something that is commonly used against every president.”
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who also hails from a district Biden won in 2020, told Fox News in an interview last week “we’re not there yet” when asked how he would vote on a measure to launch an impeachment inquiry.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has also expressed opposition to opening an impeachment inquiry at this point.
But on the other side of the political spectrum, conservatives have been putting pressure on McCarthy to begin a formal impeachment inquiry.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has become a close ally of the Speaker, said she will not vote to fund the government unless the House votes to open an impeachment inquiry into Biden.
And Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has threatened to force votes on impeachment, warned McCarthy that he would force a vote on ousting him as Speaker if he impedes on his efforts.
An hour after McCarthy’s announcement, Gaetz delivered a fiery floor speech in which he called the Speaker’s remarks a “rushed” and “rattled performance,” adding that it “isn’t real.”
“Moments ago, Speaker McCarthy endorsed an impeachment inquiry. This is a baby step following weeks of pressure from House conservatives to do more. We must move faster,” Gaetz said on the House floor.
A source told The Hill on Tuesday morning that McCarthy plans to endorse moving to an inquiry in a closed-door meeting with House Republicans this week. The conference is scheduled to huddle on Wednesday and Thursday.
McCarthy on Tuesday said Biden’s conduct and allegations surrounding his family “paint a picture of a culture of corruption.”
“Through our investigations, we have found that President Biden did lie to American people about his own knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings,” McCarthy said. “Eyewitnesses have testified that the President joined on multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions. Dinners resulted in cars and millions of dollars into his son’s and his son’s business partners.”
McCarthy was referring to testimony from former Hunter Biden business associate Devon Archer, who recalled numerous occasions when Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone in front of foreign business associates. Archer said the conversation was limited to pleasantries, but Republicans argue this refutes Biden’s previous claims that he had never spoken to his son about his business.
The committee has also documented millions of dollars that flowed from foreigners to Biden family members and their associates while Biden was vice president. An August House Oversight Committee GOP staff memo argued, though, that it does not need to demonstrate direct payments to Biden in order to show corruption.
McCarthy also referred to the unverified and refuted allegations that renew claims pushed by former President Trump his allies: that then-Vice President Biden accepted a $5 million bribe in exchange for helping oust Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin over an investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden was a board member.
Republicans this year revealed an FD-1023 form documenting an unverified tip made to the FBI alleging that Biden accepted a bribe. The FBI has not corroborated the tip, and the informant said that he could not speak to whether the claim was accurate.
Democrats have pointed to another document that purports to show the Burisma founder denying those same allegations, and a letter from Lev Parnas — who had investigated the claims for Trump allies — calling the Biden family allegations false.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption, and they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” McCarthy said.
Updated at 1:12 p.m.