Republicans in the US House of Representatives are set to hold their first hearing next week in the impeachment inquiry into US President Joe Biden. But with a very slim majority in the lower chamber of the US Congress, it appears unlikely Republicans will be able to pass the articles of impeachment needed to trigger a trial of the president in the US Senate.
The House Oversight Committee next Thursday will investigate allegations Biden improperly used his position as vice president to help his son Hunter’s foreign business dealings. Republicans also allege Biden used his official office to coordinate those efforts and was protected from investigations into those claims by his own administration. “These allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption,” Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy told reporters last week while announcing the launch of the inquiry.
Multiple Republican-led House committees investigated the allegations for months prior to the launch of the inquiry and did not find any evidence supporting those claims. Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said during a hearing Wednesday that Republicans “have wasted countless taxpayer dollars on baseless investigations into President Biden and his family. Desperate to find evidence for an absurd impeachment and desperate to distract from the mounting legal peril facing Donald Trump.”
Chief among House Republicans’ claims of corruption is an allegation that then-Vice President Biden pushed for the removal of Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in 2015 because of Shokin’s investigations into Burisma, the Ukrainian company whose board membership included Hunter Biden.
In a memo to reporters, the White House noted that years of independent reporting and an investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee found that Biden committed no wrongdoing and was carrying out a policy developed by the US State Department and carried out by the International Monetary Fund. Additionally, the White House said evidence shows Biden pushed for Shokin to be harder on corruption and that the Ukrainian prosecutor general was not investigating Burisma. The two-step process for removing federal officials from office is laid out in the US Constitution. In the first step of the process, the US House of Representatives must pass articles of impeachment by a majority vote. Republicans only hold a slim majority in the US House of Representatives, with 221 Republicans, 212 Democrats and 2 vacancies. Many Republicans from more moderate districts have expressed concerns about impeaching Biden, particularly heading into a presidential election year.
In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post this week, Rep. Ken Buck, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, wrote, “Republicans in the House who are itching for an impeachment are relying on an imagined history.” House Speaker McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of Republican votes or risk failure on a vote to impeach Biden.
McCarthy is facing difficulties within his own party passing a spending bill that will fund the US government past a September 30th deadline. If disagreements within the Republican party remain, the US government will shut down.
“Extreme House Republicans are already telegraphing their plans to try to distract from their own chaotic inability to govern and the impacts of it on the country.
Staging a political stunt hearing in the waning days before they may shut down the government reveals their true priorities: to them, baseless personal attacks on President Biden,” White House Spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement. If the US House of Representatives is able to pass articles of impeachment, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will be in charge of deciding when and if the Senate holds a trial of Biden. Schumer has called the charges “absurd” and could decide not to hold a trial, where the Democratic majority would almost certainly never attain the two-thirds majority required to convict the president and remove him from office.