Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday that House Republicans will move ahead with an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden.
Questions about the dodgy business dealings of the president’s son Hunter have been raised since the Trump presidency, with a lot of speculation about whether Joe or other Biden family members benefited from his work. A rock-solid tie showing that President Biden was an active participant in Hunter’s transactions is one of the chief things the House GOP will be investigating.
“Today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden,” McCarthy said, as he stood in front of three American flags in the US Capitol.
“This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather the full facts and answers for the American public,” he added. “That’s exactly what we want to know — the answers. I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations as well.”
“I do not make this decision lightly, Regardless of your party, or who you voted for, these facts concern all Americans,” McCarthy said.
The speaker added that the inquiry will be lead by House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan, House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer, and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Jason Smith.
The move comes after months of flirtation from House Republicans, who have been weighing the risks and benefits of opening such a procedures.
As Charles Lipson wrote in these pages last week, by opening an impeachment inquiry “the biggest benefit is a technical, legal one. It gives House investigators the power to compel testimony and documents from all Executive Branch agencies, even the most reluctant, as well as private parties.” Lipson also notes how according to the Office of Legal Counsel, the Department of Justice’s in-house legal advisor, “The House of Representatives must expressly authorize a committee to conduct an impeachment investigation and to use compulsory process in that investigation” if it seeks to compel the production of documents and testimony. “With that committee, they can go to court directly to demand compliance.”
“The president may be entitled to some protection for official communications, but, in 2020, the Supreme Court overwhelmingly rejected President Trump’s expansive claim that he and his aides had absolute immunity from congressional subpoenas,” Lipson adds. This court decision limited “executive privilege,” and if this procedure advances, Biden will have to face the constraints of the precedent Democrats celebrated when it was not their guy being investigated.
In short, the Court’s decision makes the job of investigators easier, quickening the process and setting a high bar for presidential demands that may interfere with a full-and-fair investigation.
So with or without an impeached Biden, the process will likely unearth information that the president’s team prefers to keep in the basement, with the president.