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President Joe Biden Impeachment Inquiry Launch by Republicans

Joe Biden Impeachment

In a highly anticipated and controversial move, House Republicans voted on Wednesday to formally launch an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The vote marks the start of what is expected to be a lengthy process that could ultimately lead to impeachment proceedings against the president.

The vote fell largely along party lines, with all 219 Republicans voting in favour of the inquiry and all 212 Democrats opposing it. One Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, crossed party lines to vote no. No Democrats supported the measure.

The resolution authorizing the inquiry accused Biden of “high crimes and misdemeanours” related to allegations of corruption involving his family’s overseas business dealings and claims he improperly interfered in federal investigations. However, Democrats dismissed the allegations as unfounded and said Republicans have failed to provide any credible evidence of an impeachable offence.

The move comes as Republicans hope to gain leverage ahead of the 2024 presidential election, where Biden has indicated he plans to run for re-election against likely GOP challenger Donald Trump. Republicans argue the inquiry is needed for transparency and accountability, while Democrats decry it as a partisan witch hunt intended to damage Biden politically.

What are the allegations against Biden?

Republican accusations against Biden centre around claims that his son, Hunter Biden, improperly profited from business relationships in Ukraine and China while his father was vice president. They also allege Biden improperly interfered in ongoing Justice Department investigations of his son.

Specifically, Republicans point to Hunter Biden’s role on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was the Obama administration’s lead on Ukraine policy. They argue this represented a conflict of interest.

They also question Hunter Biden’s investments with a Chinese private equity firm called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), launched in 2013 with Chinese state-backed capital. At the time, Joe Biden was vice president.

Additionally, Republicans allege Biden improperly pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who had previously overseen an investigation into Burisma. They say this amounted to an abuse of power to protect his son.

Biden and his defenders have denied any wrongdoing, noting the Ukrainian investigation into Burisma was dormant at the time and that the prosecutor was widely seen as corrupt. They argue Biden’s push was in line with official U.S. policy at the time.

Republicans also claim Biden improperly interfered in ongoing Justice Department investigations related to Hunter Biden’s business dealings and taxes. They point to allegations that the White House pressured officials to limit the scope of the inquiry for political reasons. The White House denies any improper interference.

Democrats counter that Republicans have failed to produce any concrete evidence Biden himself directly engaged in illegal or impeachable conduct. They argue the inquiry amounts to a partisan attack designed to damage Biden before the 2024 election.

What are the next steps in the impeachment process?

Now that the inquiry has been authorized, House Republicans will continue investigating their allegations against Biden through various committees, including holding hearings, calling witnesses and issuing subpoenas.

The House Judiciary Committee will likely play a central role in the process. Under committee rules, Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio can call witnesses and hold hearings on drafting potential articles of impeachment.

What are the next steps in the impeachment process?

Committees will continue gathering evidence and testimony over the coming months. Republicans hope to build a public case against Biden to gain more support among voters. But Democrats will fight subpoenas and attempt to discredit the investigation as politically motivated.

If committees uncover what Republicans view as impeachable offences, they will draft formal articles of impeachment – essentially charges or allegations of specific impeachable conduct. These would be debated and voted on by the full House.

A simple majority is required in the House to impeach a president. Given the current partisan breakdown, this would require all or almost all House Republicans to vote in favour, along with a sizable number of Democrats. Most analysts view a House impeachment as unlikely at this stage.

If the House does vote to impeach, a trial would then be held in the Senate. A two-thirds majority is required in the Senate to convict and remove a president from office. With Democrats holding a slim majority, conviction is viewed as virtually impossible, barring new major revelations.

However, even if Biden is not removed from office, Republicans could use impeachment to damage him politically ahead of 2024. The process would keep allegations of corruption in the headlines for months. It’s a strategy some saw as effective against Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

Democrats vow to fight subpoenas and stall investigation

Top Democrats immediately vowed to fight subpoenas and attempts to compel testimony from Biden administration officials as part of the impeachment inquiry. They argue the process is an abuse meant to damage Biden politically rather than uncover wrongdoing.

“Republicans have voted to weaponize a process that should only be initiated for grave misconduct. Instead, this is a transparently partisan attempt to settle political scores,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after the vote.

Pelosi said Democrats will use “every remedy available” to stall and undermine the Republican investigation. This could include filing lawsuits to block subpoenas, refusing to engage with committee proceedings, and delaying testimony from administration witnesses.

Some Democrats have even floated using procedural tactics like boycotting committee hearings to deny Republicans a quorum to take official action. The White House also signalled it would fight subpoenas and direct officials not to cooperate with what it views as an illegitimate inquiry.

Republicans counter that Democrats abused impeachment for partisan purposes against Trump and cannot now deny Republicans’ constitutional duty for oversight. Jordan said Democrats “will regret attempts to obstruct our investigation” and vowed to use all tools to compel cooperation.

Legal battles are likely in the coming months as Republicans push to enforce subpoenas and Democrats challenge the legitimacy and scope of the impeachment process in court. This could significantly slow the timeline for Republicans and potentially block key parts of their investigation.

Divisions emerge among Republicans over impeachment strategy

While Republicans voted unanimously to authorize the impeachment inquiry, divisions have already emerged within the party over strategy and next steps. This threatens to undermine their efforts in the long run.

Divisions emerge among Republicans over impeachment strategy

Some Republican members, particularly those from more moderate districts, have expressed reservations about the merits and optics of impeaching Biden so close to the 2024 election. They worry it could backfire by energizing Democratic voters.

“I don’t think we should be rushed into a preordained conclusion,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota. “This should be based on evidence, not politics or assumptions.”

Others argue Republicans risk overplaying their hand by pursuing impeachment before the 2024 campaign is fully underway. They believe investigations into Biden could be more effective if used to damage him as a candidate rather than impeaching him as president.

There are disagreements over how aggressively to pursue testimony and evidence-gathering given the likelihood of legal and procedural challenges from Democrats. Moderates want to avoid partisan theatrics, while hardliners are willing to issue confrontational subpoenas.

“We need to be very reasonable and careful. This is not something to be taken lightly or as a political game,” said Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, one of the few Republicans who did not co-sponsor the original impeachment resolution.

These divisions will be a challenge for Jordan and other Republican leaders to manage going forward. One misstep could cause defections that undermine the legitimacy and momentum of their investigation. It remains to be seen if the party can stay unified over the lengthy impeachment process.

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Public, independent voters remain sceptical

While the impeachment inquiry may play well with Republican base voters who strongly dislike Biden, the strategy risks alienating independent and moderate voters ahead of the 2024 election cycle.

Most public opinion polls show impeachment is not currently a top priority for most Americans, who are more concerned with inflation, jobs and healthcare. And independent voters, in particular, remain sceptical about the merits and motivations of the Republican effort.

In a recent Quinnipiac poll, just 27% of independent voters supported impeachment, compared to 57% who opposed it. Even among Republicans, only half thought Congress should prioritize impeachment over other issues.

“This looks too political for most people’s liking,” said Republican pollster David Winston. “Voters want solutions, not partisan food fights. Republicans risk a major backlash if this is not handled carefully and facts are not established every step of the way.”

Some Republicans acknowledge the potential downsides but argue they have a constitutional duty for oversight that outweighs political risks. They also believe public opinion could shift if their investigations uncover new “bombshells” against Biden.

However, if Republicans are unable to present clear evidence of impeachable conduct after months of investigation, they leave themselves open to charges of overreach from Democrats. Independent voters, in particular, may grow frustrated with the protracted process.

It remains to be seen if Republicans can satisfy the sceptical public and independent judges that their inquiry is not just a politically motivated attack but rather focused on legitimate oversight and accountability. Their ability to do so could determine their impeachment strategy’s ultimate success or failure against Biden.

The impeachment inquiry will dominate political headlines in the coming months and further inflame partisan tensions in Washington. But Republicans face high hurdles in convincing the public and changing minds within their party as they embark on the controversial process of seeking to remove a sitting president. Considerable uncertainty remains over where the inquiry will ultimately lead.


Moatsim Nasir

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