Republicans Start Biden Impeachment Inquiry
A shameful farce.
AP (“House approves impeachment inquiry into President Biden as Republicans rally behind investigation“):
The House on Wednesday authorized the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, with every Republican rallying behind the politically charged process despite lingering concerns among some in the party that the investigation has yet to produce evidence of misconduct by the president.
The 221-212 party-line vote put the entire House Republican conference on record in support of an impeachment process that can lead to the ultimate penalty for a president: punishment for what the Constitution describes as “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which can lead to removal from office if convicted in a Senate trial.
Biden, in a rare statement about the impeachment effort, questioned the priorities of House Republicans in pursuing an inquiry against him and his family.
“Instead of doing anything to help make Americans’ lives better, they are focused on attacking me with lies,” the president said following the vote. “Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political stunt that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts.”
Authorizing the monthslong inquiry ensures that the impeachment investigation extends well into 2024, when Biden will be running for reelection and seems likely to be squaring off against former President Donald Trump — who was twice impeached during his time in the White House. Trump has pushed his GOP allies in Congress to move swiftly on impeaching Biden, part of his broader calls for vengeance and retribution against his political enemies.
Some House Republicans, particularly those hailing from politically divided districts, had been hesitant in recent weeks to take any vote on Biden’s impeachment, fearing a significant political cost. But GOP leaders have made the case in recent weeks that the resolution is only a step in the process, not a decision to impeach Biden. That message seems to have won over skeptics.
“As we have said numerous times before, voting in favor of an impeachment inquiry does not equal impeachment,” Rep. Tom Emmer, a member of the GOP leadership team, said at a news conference Tuesday.
Emmer said Republicans “will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead, and if they uncover evidence of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors, then and only then will the next steps towards impeachment proceedings be considered.”
Most of the Republicans reluctant to back the impeachment push have also been swayed by leadership’s recent argument that authorizing the inquiry will give them better legal standing as the White House has questioned the legal and constitutional basis for their requests for information.
A letter last month from a top White House attorney to Republican committee leaders portrayed the GOP investigation as overzealous and illegitimate because the chamber had not yet authorized a formal impeachment inquiry by a vote of the full House. Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, also wrote that when Trump faced the prospect of impeachment by a Democratic-led House in 2019, Johnson had said at the time that any inquiry without a House vote would be a “sham.”
Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said this week that while there was no evidence to impeach the president, “that’s also not what the vote this week would be about.”
“We have had enough political impeachments in this country,” he said. “I don’t like the stonewalling the administration has done, but listen, if we don’t have the receipts, that should constrain what the House does long-term.”
The whole thing is bizarre. The basis of the inquiry is that, despite months of investigation, House Republicans have been unable to uncover evidence that President Biden committed any wrongdoing with respect to his son Hunter’s various misdeeds. But, because the White House is pushing back on the fishing expedition, they’re using the impeachment process as a justification for more fishing?
And, of course, we have this:
AP (“The Republican leading the probe of Hunter Biden has his own shell company and complicated friends“):
Rep. James Comer, a multimillionaire farmer, boasts of being one of the largest landholders near his rural Kentucky hometown, and he has meticulously documented nearly all of his landholdings on congressional financial disclosure documents – roughly 1,600 acres in all.
But there are six acres that he bought in 2015 and co-owns with a longtime campaign contributor that he has treated differently, transferring his ownership to Farm Team Properties, a shell company he co-owns with his wife.
Interviews and records reviewed by The Associated Press provide new insights into the financial deal, which risks undercutting the force of some of Comer’s central arguments in his impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden. For months, the chairman of the House Oversight committee and his Republican colleagues have been pounding Biden for how his relatives traded on their famous name to secure business deals.
In particular, Comer 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 middlemen and foreign interests.
Such companies typically exist only on paper and are formed to hold an asset, like real estate. Their opaque structures are often designed to help hide ownership of property and other assets.
The companies used by the Bidens are already playing a central role in the impeachment investigation, which is expected to gain velocity after House Republicans voted Wednesday to formally authorize the probe. The vote follows the federal indictment last week of Biden’s son Hunter on charges he engaged in a scheme to avoid paying taxes on his earnings through the companies.
But as Comer works to “deliver the transparency and accountability that the American people demand” through the GOP’s investigation, his own finances and relationships have begun to draw notice, too, including his ties to prominent local figures who have complicated pasts not all that dissimilar to some of those caught up in his Biden probe.
Comer declined to comment through a spokesman, but has aggressively denied any wrongdoing in establishing a shell company.
After Democrats blasted him for being a hypocrite following the Daily Beast ’s disclosure of the company last month, Comer countered by calling a Democratic lawmaker a “smurf” and saying that the criticism was the kind of thing “only dumb, financially illiterate people pick up on.”
The AP found that Farm Team Properties functions in a similarly opaque way as the companies used by the Bidens, masking his stake in the land that he co-owns with the donor from being revealed on his financial disclosure forms. Those records describe Farm Team Properties as his wife’s “land management and real estate speculation” company without providing further details.
This is the first I’ve heard of Comer’s shell company and I have no strong opinion about it. Absent further evidence, my opening assumption is that it’s perfectly legal and almost certainly a bit shady. Regardless, it makes his participation in this farce even more absurd.
As to Hunter Biden, I’m pretty sure he’s a criminal. Indeed, House Democrats pretty much concede that:
Hunter Biden is currently facing criminal charges in two states from the special counsel investigation. He’s charged with firearm counts in Delaware, alleging he broke laws against drug users having guns in 2018, a period when he has acknowledged struggling with addiction. Special counsel David Weiss filed additional charges last week, alleging he failed to pay about $1.4 million in taxes over a three-year period.
Democrats have conceded that while the president’s son is not perfect, he is a private citizen who is already being held accountable by the justice system.
“I mean, there’s a lot of evidence that Hunter Biden did a lot of improper things. He’s been indicted, he’ll stand trial,” Nadler said. “There’s no evidence whatsoever that the president did anything improper.”
The younger Biden’s various activities have been under media and political scrutiny for years now, resulting in a whole lot of manpower seeking to uncover wrongdoing on the part of his powerful father. None has turned up. Using the extraordinary power of an impeachment inquiry for political grandstanding is simply shameful.