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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tony W says:

    My biggest worry in all this is that Hunter will harm himself in order to stop himself from being used against his father.

    We didn’t need this vote to prove it, but it’s very, very clear that the Republican party has ZERO people of character within it. If everything Trump does is not a deal breaker – if this action is not a deal breaker – then there is no evidence that Republicans care about the law, the country, or the American people.

    We are very close to a point where the Republican party might rightly be outlawed as an insurrectionist and terrorist organization.

  2. Charley in Cleveland says:

    “At long last, sir, have you no shame?” That arrow famously slung at Joe McCarthy should be reloaded for Comer and the ludicrous Jim Jordan. The MAGA logic that a lack of evidence demands further investigation turns jurisprudence on its head, and clearly demonstrates that Donald Trump is the de facto Speaker of the House.

  3. Steve says:

    Donations and manpower. We had 8 Benghazi investigations. None of them found the information to prove that Hillary or Obama did something scandalous. That was clear after the first investigation and reminded clear all along. However it kept the HOP voters angry so donations rolled in and the angry people gave them volunteers to help work elections or just make sure they would turn out to vote. (Note that none of the many GOP investigations have found anything of note. )


  4. Kathy says:

    “Evidence? We don’t need no stinking evidence.”

    This ends impeachment as a remedy, and moves it to performance politics. The GQP is impeaching Biden for the sole reason that Democrats impeached Adolph twice for cause. This is also whey they are trying to make it so impeachment is the only legal avenue to prosecute a high office holder.

    Something that will change if, Hera forbid, Adolph wins and Biden gets indicted for no reason.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Using the extraordinary power of an impeachment inquiry for political grandstanding is simply shameful.

    And very Republican. But her emails.

  6. Assad K says:

    Because I don’t actually know… given that the owed taxes have actually been paid, how many people not named Biden would actually be facing charges under the circumstances? The firearm count also seems a tad.. specious.

  7. Barry says:

    @Assad K: From what I’ve gathered, no.
    And the firearms charge was based on a law recently overturned by SCOTUS.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    There may be some good that comes from this if we get a general investigation into the lobbying activities of politicians’ family members. There are many, many children and spouses feeding at the trough by selling real or perceived influence to their office holding relative.

  9. mattbernius says:

    @Assad K:

    Because I don’t actually know… given that the owed taxes have actually been paid, how many people not named Biden would actually be facing charges under the circumstances?

    The answer is it depends. Rather than asking about people not named “Biden,” its better to ask how many people who are not public figures (broadly defined) would be charged. The answer in that case is few relative to the number of infractions.

    However, as Ken White and others have pointed out, the Justice Department has long-standing policies around making examples of well-known people–see, for example, Wesley Snipes around taxes, Martha Steward on insider trading, or Felicity Huffman on bribery.

    As other commenters have mentioned, Hunter Biden’s last name played a key role in making him rich. It also played a major role in his prosecution.

  10. al Ameda says:

    All of this is right out of the playbook Republicans used to damage and diminish Hillary Clinton – that is, run endless inquiries that take us up to the election, disseminate dis-and-mis information in a no-holds effort to damage the Democratic presidential candidate. But this is THAT on steroids.

    What I think is more depressing than Congressional Republicans (especially House Republicans) is the average Republican voter, the majority of whom are now political nihilists. They want power at any cost, so much so that they’re willing to take another swim in the Trump cesspool.

  11. SenyorDave says:

    @mattbernius: Two women, a black man and now the son of the president. When will some nameless white dude be made an example of?

  12. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, I’m ok with Hunter getting prosecuted for gun charges and tax evasion. The thing is, the prosecution entered into a plea agreement (aka a diversion agreement) with him, which, the defense contends, is still in force, and that means all the evidence they want to use is no good, since it is covered by the plea agreement.

    A diversion agreement sounds a bit harsh but still within reason to me.

    The most interesting claim Hunter’s team is now making is that there is a violation of separation of powers – contending that the House forced the FBI to renege on the plea agreement.

    But that this has something to do with Joe? Nah.

  13. mattbernius says:


    Two women, a black man and now the son of the president. When will some nameless white dude be made an example of?

    All are celebrities and quasi-public figures. Also, I’m just working off the top of my head, there are other examples. Since you’re interested in White dudes, Willy Nelson famously also was prosecuted heavily for back taxes.

    I opted not to name him in the first only because he reached a plea deal to avoid jail time. And before you say, “of course he got a plea… because he was White!,” let me note that James Brown ended up with a similar deal. This gets us to an issue beyond race or gender in this: the trial tax.

    Snipes, Steward, and Huffman were unable to work out plea deals with the government (or chose not to take them when offered) and all ended up paying the trial tax (being incarcerated). We saw a similar pattern with Hunter Biden, whose deal collapsed when it turned out each side had a different understanding of the terms.

    BTW, a quick Google reveals a number of White men who have had to serve time on federal Tax evasion after going to trial. Examples include Pete Rose and Survivor winner Richard Hatch.

  14. gVOR10 says:

    @Tony W:

    We are very close to a point where the Republican party might rightly be outlawed as an insurrectionist and terrorist organization.

    If corporations are people, can a political party be institutionalized?

  15. Mikey says:

    The Republican leading the probe of Hunter Biden has his own shell company and complicated friends


  16. Jack says:
  17. al Ameda says:


    A sane, and sadly, an all too rare honest assessment.

    Turley is right, the Republican House will impeach Biden regardless of the facts.

  18. Tony W says:

    @Jack: Wow. There is no shortage of faux-intellectual Republican tripe out there. I have never heard of this Turley guy, but he seems like a piece of work.

    Does this sort of “analysis” make Republican readers feel super-smart and somehow vindicated?

  19. Jack says:

    More common sense, and real legal acumen. In short supply here. Those damned MAGA-crazed Democrat professors..

  20. mattbernius says:

    Hey, thanks for the Turley links. I was wondering if you could answer a question: If you think Turley is right in this context, do you also think Turley is also right when he says Trump is in serious trouble with the documents case–especially around the obstruction of justice charges?

    He called that indictment “extemely damning”:

    “The Special Counsel knew that there would be a lot of people who were going to allege that the Department of Justice was acting in a biased or politically motivated way. This is clearly an indictment that was drafted to answer those questions. It’s overwhelming in detail,” he continued. “The Trump team should not fool itself. These are hits below the waterline. These are witnesses who apparently testified under oath [and] gave statements to federal investigators, both of which can be criminally charged, if they’re false.”

    “Those witnesses are directly quoting the president in encouraging others not to look for documents or allegedly to conceal them. It’s damaging,” Mr Turley said.

    “This is not an indictment that you can dismiss. There are a lot of people who are testifying under oath, and they’re saying highly incriminating things,” the attorney added.

    Here he is writing further on Trump’s legal danger in this case:

    The problem for Trump is that, even if the Espionage Act attack works in a challenge, it would leave six counts. That includes three counts on withholding or concealing documents in a federal investigation; two counts on false statements, and one count on conspiracy to obstruct justice.

    At the end of the day, even if the government was wrong on the Espionage Act, you are not allowed to obstruct or lie to federal investigators.