US House authorises formal impeachment inquiry into Biden

WASHINGTON, Dec 14: Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted Wednesday to authorise an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. 

The party-line 221-212 vote saw all of the chamber’s Republicans line up in support of the investigation, despite a lack of evidence that Biden has crossed a critical impeachment threshold, namely committing what the Constitution describes as “high crimes and misdemeanors” while in office. All Democrats were opposed. 

The House is now set to carry out its constitutionally-enshrined duty to formally investigate the president and will vote on sending any charges that are ultimately decided upon to the Democratic-controlled Senate. 

“Today, the House took a critical step in our investigation into serious matters involving President Joe Biden by formally opening an impeachment inquiry,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a joint statement with senior Republican leaders, as reported by Anadolu Agency. 

“We do not take this responsibility lightly and will not prejudge the investigation’s outcome. But the evidentiary record is impossible to ignore,” the Republicans added.

The inquiry is likely to span months during the thick of the 2024 presidential campaign. Former US President Donald Trump, who was impeached twice during his four-year tenure, has pushed his congressional Republican allies to pursue impeachment against his successor.

But it is not at all clear into what matters the investigation will delve. A roughly year-long investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings has so far failed to produce solid evidence of wrongdoing.

Democrats have said the process is tantamount to a political stunt.

Biden lambasted the House vote in an exceptionally lengthy statement that said the process the House is set to embark upon will distract from urgent policy priorities, including passing additional funding for Ukraine and Israel, overhauling US border policy and combating inflation.

“There is a lot of work to be done. But after wasting weeks trying to find a new Speaker of the House and having to expel their own members, Republicans in Congress are leaving for a month without doing anything to address these pressing challenges,” the president said.

“I wake up every day focused on the issues facing the American people – real issues that impact their lives, and the strength and security of our country and the world. Unfortunately, House Republicans are not joining me. Instead of doing anything to help make Americans’ lives better, they are focused on attacking me with lies,” he added.

This week, the White House described the long-standing Republican inquiry into the Biden family as a “fishing expedition” that has failed to support “their wild conspiracies and debunked allegations.”

Just hours earlier, Biden’s son, Hunter, defied a congressional subpoena to testify behind closed doors. The junior Biden has said he would speak publicly but has rejected a private interview because he says Republicans would seek to leak selective portions of what he has to say.

“I am here to answer at a public hearing any legitimate questions Chairman (James) Comer and the House Oversight Committee may have for me,” he said during a brief press conference at the Capitol.

“I am here today to make sure that the House committee’s illegitimate investigations of my family do not proceed on distortions, manipulated evidence, and lies. And I am here today to acknowledge that I have made mistakes in my life, and wasted opportunities and privileges I was afforded. For that, I am responsible,” he added.