Kevin McCarthy announces House will begin an impeachment inquiry into Biden

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Tuesday said he is directing three House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden in an effort to seek bank records and other documents from the president and his son Hunter Biden.

Speaking to reporters during a news conference Tuesday, McCarthy said an impeachment inquiry into Biden is a “logical next step” of the GOP-led investigations that have been going on for months.

“This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public is exactly what we want to know the answers,” he said. “I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations as well.”

House Republicans, McCarthy said, “uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct.”

“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption,” he said. “They warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives.”

McCarthy said Oversight Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., will lead the inquiry in coordination with Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo.

A vote to launch an impeachment inquiry would be a first step in the effort to remove the president from office, and is not a vote on impeachment itself.

McCarthy’s decision represents a major reversal for the speaker after he told the conservative website Breitbart earlier this month that he wouldn’t open an impeachment inquiry without a vote of the full House. It comes as he doesn’t appear to have enough votes to proceed on the issue, facing skepticism from across the GOP spectrum due to the lack of evidence implicating the president in Hunter Biden’s transgressions.

It also marks a reversal for McCarthy from 2019, when he inveighed against Democrats for initiating an impeachment inquiry into then-President Donald Trump before a vote, questioning the legitimacy of such an investigation unless the House were to authorize it. House Democrats eventually voted to authorize it.

White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement that House Republicans have “turned up no evidence of wrongdoing” in nine months of investigating the president.

“His own Republican members have said so,” Sams said, referring to House Republican conference led by McCarthy. “He vowed to hold a vote to open impeachment, now he flip flopped because he doesn’t have support. This is extreme politics at its worst.”

Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell criticized the impeachment inquiry as “based on repackaged, inaccurate conspiracies about Hunter Biden and his legitimate business activities.”

Jordan and Comer will give members an update in a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Thursday morning, two Republican sources said.

Punchbowl News first reported the development.

House Republicans were quick to praise McCarthy, saying that an impeachment inquiry into Biden is warranted.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a member of the House Oversight Committee, tweeted: “A formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden’s culture of corruption is long overdue and fully warranted.”

“Honored to be on the House Oversight Committee — boy do I have some questions,” he added.

Some Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans similarly had a positive reaction to the news.

“The inquiry is an inquiry — it’s not an impeachment,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters. “It seems to me that it will open up an avenue to get a lot of information that we feel we’ve been stonewalled. So it’s up to the House what they do.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., compared the Biden impeachment inquiry to Watergate as he voiced his support for it: “Watergate was pretty bad, but this may be on par with that, maybe worse. So I’m sure we get the facts. Yeah, I’m in favor of an inquiry. I think we should get the facts. And I think it should be done, I emphasize, in public.”

Democrats were less enthused. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the effort “absurd” and said many Republicans have gone “off the deep end.” Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa. sarcastically responded to the news, saying, “Oh my God, really? Oh my gosh! You know, oh, it’s devastating,” while laughing and making scary ghost noises with hand gestures. “Oooh don’t do it! Please don’t do it! Oh no! Oh no!,” he added.

McCarthy has signaled for weeks that the House could take up an impeachment inquiry, which would provide additional legal power to the House’s investigations into the Biden family. The GOP-led investigations have not uncovered evidence of wrongdoing by the president, or connections between the president and Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings.

The House Oversight Committee’s investigation, which focuses on Hunter Biden’s meetings and payments from several foreign sources, has yet to produce direct evidence showing that the president either received this money or helped solicit it. Hunter Biden’s business partner, Devon Archer, testified July 31 that Hunter would frequently call his father while meeting foreign business associates — but that those conversations only involved pleasantries such as discussing the weather.

A spokesperson for the Oversight Committee said in a statement Tuesday that the panel “will soon pursue Hunter and James Biden’s personal and business bank records. The Committee also plans to interview additional Biden family associates.”

Some politically vulnerable and centrist Republicans have expressed wariness about whether to launch a formal impeachment inquiry, saying the GOP doesn’t have enough evidence to make the move.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a member of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus, expressed in an interview with MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that he’s wary about an impeachment inquiry.

“I’m reluctant to agree with Speaker McCarthy. He doesn’t need to put this to a vote, even though we’ve said before that he would put this to a vote on the House floor. He doesn’t need to,” he said.

Buck said he wants to “look at the evidence” before determining if he thinks an inquiry is warranted. “I will go where the evidence takes me and I still want to look at the evidence.”

The White House is ramping up a war room to lead a response to a Republican impeachment inquiry, NBC News previously reported. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are also preparing an active defense of the president as their GOP counterparts continue to pursue evidence to support a potential inquiry.

McCarthy’s move to endorse an impeachment inquiry into Biden comes amid pressure from right-wing Republicans, who are pushing back against a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month.

Some House Democrats took issue with McCarthy drawing attention to an impeachment inquiry amid looming legislative deadlines for government funding.

Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., tweeted: “This impeachment is Kevin McCarthy’s shiny new object to distract the public from the fact that the GOP can’t even pass bills to fund the government. So, here we go — headed to an extreme MAGA Republican shutdown while they play political games with a non-starter impeachment.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the ranking member of the House Judiciary, defended Biden and accused McCarthy of having “caved” to extremists within the GOP.

“Let me be very, very clear: President Biden has done nothing wrong, and House Republicans have not found a shred of evidence to suggest otherwise,” he said in a statement. “Speaker McCarthy may get to keep his job for another day, but he has once again caved to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., decried the impeachment inquiry during a news conference Tuesday evening.

“Extreme MAGA Republicans have launched an illegitimate impeachment inquiry that is a kangaroo court, fishing expedition, and conspiracy theater, rolled into one,” Jeffries said. “There is not a shred of evidence that President Joe Biden has engaged in wrongdoing. There is not a shred of evidence that President Joe Biden has committed an impeachable offense. There is not a shred of evidence that President Joe Biden has committed a crime.”

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., added that the inquiry announcement is “all the evidence we need to show that Kevin McCarthy has lost control of the gavel,” as the California Republican faces threats to remove him as speaker.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., on Sunday floated the idea that he would try to force a vote to oust McCarthy if he doesn’t press forward with an impeachment inquiry — and would even work with Democrats to do so if needed. Gaetz, however, on Tuesday reiterated his threat against McCarthy despite the speaker’s announcement.

“I rise today to serve notice,” Gaetz said in a speech on the House floor. “Mr. Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role. The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance or remove you, pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz demanded that McCarthy not put any short-term spending bills on the floor, but hold votes on balancing the budget and on term limits. He also demanded that House Republicans issue subpoenas for Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family.

CORRECTION (Sept. 12, 2023, 3:59 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when Hunter Biden’s business partner, Devon Archer, testified before the House Oversight Committee. It was July 31, not August.

Rebecca Kaplan and Sahil Kapur reported from Wasington. Summer Concepcion reported from New York.

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