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House Republicans Launch Dubious Impeachment Inquiry of President Biden

United States House Republicans voted in unison to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden on December 13, 2023, despite a lack of overtly clear evidence and internal consternation amongst vulnerable Republicans from Biden-won districts (during the 2020 Presidential Election) facing tough reelection prospects.

The effort will almost certainly fail to remove the President from office. Even if House Republicans sort out the internal strife of the vulnerable members of its caucus and then vote to impeach the President, the Senate will have to elect to convict Biden on the charges by a two-thirds vote — a near-impossible feat in a chamber where the President's fellow Democrats hold a 51-49 majority. 

Additionally, several Senate Republicans are publicly sceptical that the inquiry will produce meaningful evidence to meet the standard of the President having committed "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors," according to the Constitution. 

President Biden is now the eighth President in U.S. history to face an impeachment inquiry.

The Republican-controlled chamber voted 221-212 along party lines to approve the probe, examining whether President Biden improperly benefited from his 53-year-old son Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings during his time as Vice President. Republicans have also made broad allegations about Hunter Biden receiving preferential treatment from the IRS and the Justice Department. Two IRS employees have testified that an investigation into his tax issues was intentionally weakened. At the same time, other witnesses have disputed their version of events. This comes as Hunter Biden was indicted and charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) with three felony tax offenses and six misdemeanor tax offenses on December 7 2023. Charges that, if convicted, could land Hunter Biden in prison for up to seventeen years. 

Hunter Biden, who has described his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, has been the subject of a years-long criminal investigation culminating in his current grand jury indictment. 

The White House and Democrats call the House investigation, now impeachment probe, undeniably politically motivated, with former President (and now Republican candidate) Donald Trump pulling the strings behind the scenes to weaken his opponent heading into the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election. 

House Republicans allege that Biden and his family profited from his actions when he served as President Barack Obama's vice president from 2009 to 2017. They have homed in on his son's business ventures in Ukraine and China during that period. House Republicans allege to have evidence that the younger Biden led clients to believe that he could provide access to the vice president's office. However, they have not provided proof that President Biden took any official actions to help those businesses or benefited financially from them. To date, Republicans have obtained over 36,000 pages of bank records, 2,000 pages of suspicious activity reports, and hours of testimony from various key witnesses.

However, the behavior and eyebrow-raising business dealings of some prominent House Republicans in the impeachment probe run the risk of undercutting an impeachment inquiry already teetering on the brink of collapse. Notably, Chief Biden Impeachment Investigator and House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair, Rep. James Comer (R-KY), has attacked some Biden family members, including the President's son Hunter, over their use of shell companies that appear designed to obscure millions of dollars in earnings they received from shadowy go-betweens and foreign interests. 

Such companies typically exist only on paper and are formed to hold assets like real estate. The companies used by the Bidens are already playing a central role in the impeachment investigation. In a turn of events that many find comical, ironic, and altogether hypocritical (at least if you're a Democrat or an objective observer), a recent Associated Press report concludes that Rep. Comer, a multimillionaire farmer, is one of the largest landholders near his rural Kentucky hometown, as pulled from congressional financial disclosure documents, shows Comer owning roughly 1,600 acres (645 hectares) in all. He himself owns a shell company from which he benefits financially and is linked to a network of perceived shady business dealings with prominent local figures within his district. 

As the impeachment inquiry progresses, the politics of hyperpartisan trench warfare and hostile rhetoric from both parties will likely increase as the 2024 election cycle draws closer and closer. There are risks all around. President Biden faces the prospect of batting away the constant claim of corruption by Republicans while he gears up for a tough reelection fight. This is without mentioning the need to continuously balance being the President of the United States and father to a troubled son. 

While House Republicans (and the wider Republican party) face the potential, and altogether probable, outcome of being caught with their pants down, facing down an investigation they started based on an accusation, rather than hard evidence. The smoking gun will likely turn out to be a flash in the pan as they attempt to find a palatable way to explain to the American people why the 118th Congress has been, by all metrics, the least effective Congress in modern times. 

Image: Francis Chung / Politico / AP Images

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