House Republicans on Wednesday will hold a floor vote to formally authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, intended to strengthen their oversight powers as Republican lawmakers continue to investigate the Biden family’s finances.
The inquiry, which was launched by then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in September without a vote, has so far failed to prove the GOP’s claim that Joe Biden financially benefited from his son’s foreign investment deals.
However, the vote brought about by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is expected to have near-unanimous support among Republicans as Hunter Biden signaled he is unlikely to comply with a congressional subpoena issued last month that requested he appear for a closed-door deposition Wednesday morning.
As of Tuesday evening, Hunter Biden was not expected to participate in a closed-door interview with lawmakers and investigators, maintaining that he would only answer questions in a public hearing, according to people close to the president’s son who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations. His legal team has pointed to past comments in which House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) all but dared Hunter Biden to testify — publicly or privately — and the team has said they don’t trust House Republicans not to selectively leak his testimony.
Comer over the past two weeks has rebuffed Hunter Biden’s offer to publicly testify before the committee, and Republicans have threatened to initiate proceedings to hold him in contempt of Congress if he fails to cooperate.
The foundation of the impeachment inquiry, outlined by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in a briefing with reporters last week, rests on an unsubstantiated accusation that has become the linchpin of allegations regarding the Biden family’s purported corrupt and criminal conduct.
Republicans allege that Joe Biden as vice president pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in order to quash a probe into the former owner of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden sat on the board. But that allegation has been widely refuted by former U.S. officials, as well as Ukrainian anti-corruption activists. As part of the inquiry, House Republicans also have elevated claims that the Biden administration slowed a Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial background, but that testimony has been repeatedly disputed by officials involved in the case.
Some vulnerable Republican lawmakers previously were resistant to voting on the matter of impeachment — and remain opposed to proceeding with formal articles of impeachment given the underwhelming body of evidence Republican investigators have amassed so far. But after White House special counsel Dick Sauber issued a Nov. 17 letter challenging the legitimacy of the inquiry and demanding that subpoenas and requests for interviews with Biden family members and White House aides be rescinded, GOP lawmakers have rallied behind the idea of strengthening the House’s legal hand by moving to authorize the investigation with a vote.
“The House will likely need to go to court to enforce its subpoenas, and opening a formal inquiry — backed by a vote of the full body — puts us in the strongest legal position to gather the evidence and provide transparency to the American people,” Johnson argued in an op-ed published Tuesday morning.
There is still at least one Republican outlier who remains skeptical of the GOP’s year-long investigation into Biden. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told reporters Tuesday that he was still leaning toward voting against authorizing the inquiry. But while Buck said that he saw no link between the actions of Hunter and Joe Biden in Ukraine, he said he did not appreciate Sauber’s letter to Congress that struck a defiant posture toward oversight efforts.
“I don’t like what the White House did when they sent back a letter saying, you haven’t passed an impeachment inquiry so we aren’t going to give you these documents — I don’t think that’s based on the Constitution,” Buck reasoned. “But at the same time, I don’t see the link between the actions of Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. I think there’s lots of reasons to fire Viktor Shokin in Ukraine, and I don’t think it was related to Hunter Biden — so I’m really torn.”
Outside of Hunter Biden, who has this year been indicted on gun charges in Delaware and tax charges in California, the majority of people who have been asked to appear before or cooperate with GOP-led committees directing the inquiry have complied to varying degrees. Current and former officials involved with the ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden appeared for closed-door depositions after a tentative plea deal for him collapsed in August. And David Weiss, the federal prosecutor who was tapped to serve as special counsel investigating the president’s son, took the rare and unusual step of making himself available for questioning by Congress before the investigation was completed.
House GOP investigators have also been given access to suspicious activity reports through the Treasury Department, have obtained bank records through subpoenas and are set to receive 62,000 records from the National Archives from Biden’s time as vice president. Those are in addition to the 20,000 records requested by Comer that the Archives has already made public.