Joe Biden impeachment inquiry: What to expect from the first House hearing
Washington DC- Republicans are set to launch impeachment inquiry hearings into Joe Biden on Thursday, escalating an eight-month corruption investigation that has failed to uncover evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
The party says the information it has amassed warrants streamlining its multiple probes into an official inquiry empowered to unleash investigators from three House committees to subpoena Biden's bank records.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has accused Biden of lying about his knowledge of his son Hunter Biden's business dealings, which Republicans claim corruptly benefited the Democratic leader when he was vice president.
"House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden's conduct," McCarthy said as he announced the inquiry, under pressure from his party's far-right fringe to target the president.
"Taken together, these allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption."
The Biden administration has dismissed the effort as a "stunt," accusing Republicans of trying to distract voters, days ahead of a looming government shutdown sparked by far-right lawmakers.
What happens in the first House Oversight Committee hearing?
The House Oversight Committee will hold the first hearing Thursday morning, with Republicans framing the session as a "refresher course" on the panel's work so far.
But opponents say the idea is simply to have a damaging open-ended inquiry going into an election year, and that an impeachment would never have sufficient support in the House, where the Republicans have a razor-thin majority.
The probe has already obtained more than 12,000 pages of subpoenaed bank records from Biden family members and hours of testimony from Hunter's business associates and from federal investigators.
"(The) problem they have is not that they can't get the evidence. The problem they have is that the evidence does not support their allegations," Dan Goldman, a Democratic congressman and the lead counsel in Republican former President Donald Trump's own first impeachment, said recently in Congress.
"And so why are we going to spend the next few months on bogus and sham impeachment inquiry? Because Donald Trump wants them to, and Donald Trump has been calling them and urging them to do it, because he was impeached twice."
What are the allegations against Joe Biden?
One allegation being advanced by Republicans – that Biden was bribed by Ukrainian firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board – is based on an anonymous tip that Trump's Justice Department investigated and dropped.
A related theory, debunked by multiple federal officials, involves false allegations that, as vice president, Biden got a Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin fired to benefit Burisma.
In fact, it was US and European Union policy that Shokin was hampering efforts to combat corruption and needed to go.
Republicans have also presented a former business partner of Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, as a star witness who would offer damning evidence that the president made money from his son's contacts.
Pressed repeatedly, he testified that he had never seen or heard the younger Biden discuss business with his father.
Republicans seized on Archer's testimony that the president had greeted his son's associates during numerous family telephone calls, claiming Biden had helped his son create the impression that his contacts had access to the White House.
But they have presented no evidence of influence-peddling by Biden himself.
Republicans also claim Biden interfered with a criminal investigation into various allegations against Hunter.
But again, the claim looks thin since the president's son was indicted on gun charges by a Trump-appointed prosecutor that newly elected Biden allowed to complete his investigation.
Cover photo: REUTERS