House Speaker Kevin McCarthy cited a string of allegations against President Joe Biden related to his son’s foreign business dealings in opening a formal impeachment inquiry into the president Tuesday—though none of the claims have produced solid evidence of illegality on Biden’s part, and McCarthy was careful to frame some of them as accusations.
McCarthy on Tuesday confirmed reports earlier in the day that he planned to endorse an impeachment effort backed by hard-right Republicans, telling reporters he has directed the House Oversight, Ways and Means and Judiciary Committees to formally open a probe.
Phone Calls: McCarthy cited testimony from witnesses who told lawmakers Biden joined on “multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions, dinners” with his son’s business partners, which the speaker alleged led to millions of dollars in payments and cars to Hunter Biden and his associates.
Hunter Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer testified to the House Oversight Committee in July that he witnessed then-Vice President Biden and his son have multiple “casual conversations” in the presence of Hunter’s business partners, including on speakerphone, but Archer said they did not involve any business discussions.
The claims are similar to ones made in a 2020 New York Post story that claimed Biden had contact with his son’s Ukrainian business partners, though the president has repeatedly denied involvement in his family’s business dealings, a denial McCarthy said Biden “lied about.”
Payments to Family Members: McCarthy also referenced bank records that Republican committee leaders claim show Hunter Biden and his business partners received $20 million in payments from various foreign entities, though they didn’t present evidence that Joe Biden received any of the money, and only about $7 million went directly to Biden family members, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Bank Records: In addition, McCarthy cited Suspicious Activity Reports that detail various foreign transactions Hunter Biden and his business partners engaged in—banks are required to file these reports on a routine basis with the federal government to flag potential illegal activity, but they generally are not proof of criminality on their own.
Bribery: Lastly, McCarthy referenced an unfounded bribery allegation brought by an FBI source that alleges the CEO of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company Hunter Biden sat on the board of, paid $10 million to members of the Biden family to help remove a Ukrainian corruption prosecutor.
The bribery claim has not been confirmed, and the allegation around Shokin’s firing is fraught with factual deficiencies, however: Then-Vice President Joe Biden was among a coalition of U.S. and foreign leaders calling for Viktor Shokin’s ouster because he didn’t pursue corruption investigations fervently enough, including one into Burisma that was stalled at the time Shokin was forced to step down, a former Ukrainian official later told Bloomberg.
61%. That’s the share of Americans who believe Biden meddled in his son’s business dealings, according to a CNN/SSRS poll released last week. Nearly half, 42%, believe Biden’s conduct was illegal, according to the poll of 1,503 adults (margin of error 3.5).
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McCarthy did not explicitly call for Biden to be impeached, instead saying the allegations “warrant further investigation.”
The impeachment inquiry casts a wide net around a sprawling list of accusations in Republicans’ long-running probes into the Biden family, and also has links to the Justice Department’s investigations into both Hunter Biden and former President Donald Trump. McCarthy alluded to the Justice Department factor in announcing the impeachment inquiry Tuesday, telling reporters “it appears that the president’s family has been offered special treatment by Biden’s own administration, treatment that [they] not otherwise would have received if they were not related to the president.” Republicans have repeatedly claimed that the Justice Department’s now-defunct plea agreement with Hunter Biden that would have allowed him to plead not guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and evade a felony gun charge by entering a diversion program was a “sweetheart deal.” The claims were bolstered by an IRS whistleblower who has publicly alleged that the Justice Department dragged its feet on the Hunter Biden investigation and avoided bringing charges against him outside of Delaware—claims denied by the DOJ. Republicans have used the Hunter Biden probe to highlight their claims that the Justice Department is working on behalf of Biden in prosecuting former President Donald Trump, while being more lenient in its investigation of his son.
McCarthy announced the impeachment inquiry hours after reports revealed he was expected to endorse the effort. The probe comes as members of the far-right have threatened to vote against the fiscal year 2024 budget due at the end of the month—or even seek McCarthy’s ouster—if he does not back an impeachment into Biden. The inquiry is the first step to impeach Biden, but officially bringing articles of impeachment against him would require a vote in the House, which would prompt a Senate trial. The odds of removing Biden are slim to none, however, considering it requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.