Biden impeachment inquiry: Even House Republicans' own witnesses see no evidence of wrongdoing

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In advance of their first formal impeachment hearing against President Biden, House Republicans vowed that they would reveal the basis for an inquiry meant to implicate President Biden in his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings.

But on Thursday they provided no evidence of the president’s involvement.

In fact, the only real news to come out of the hearing of the House Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees was that even the GOP’s own witnesses don’t see any impeachable offenses by Joe Biden at this point.

Witnesses are sworn in at the first formal hearing regarding the House impeachment inquiry into President Biden
Witnesses are sworn in at the first formal hearing regarding the House impeachment inquiry into President Biden, Sept. 28. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

‘The current record does not establish any crime, let alone an impeachable offense’

Historically, the House has only launched impeachment inquiries after discovering that a president has done something blatantly incriminating. But Thursday’s initial hearing made it clear that in Biden’s case, House Republicans are using the inquiry to fish for facts they were unable to find during previous investigations — while generating social media clicks and unflattering headlines about the president in the process.

As Democrats such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly pointed out, none of the GOP’s three witnesses were summoned to provide “firsthand witness account[s] of crimes committed by the president of the United States,” but rather broader context on how financial violations are investigated and how impeachment typically unfolds.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez listens to testimony during the House impeachment hearing into President Biden on Thursday. (Bonnie Cash/UPI/Shutterstock)

Their testimony didn’t make a case against the president.

“I do not believe that the evidence currently meets the standard of a high crime and misdemeanor needed for an article of impeachment,” said Jonathan Turley, the Republicans’ first witness, a professor at George Washington University Law School.

“I am not here to even suggest that there was corruption, fraud or even any wrongdoing,” added Bruce Dubinsky, an expert in forensic accounting who also served as a Republican witness.

Prior to Thursday’s hearing, Republican politicians were singing a different tune.

“Joe Biden has, I believe, committed multiple criminal acts,” Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of House GOP leadership, said in June.

Why the huge gap between witnesses and politicians?

Because as Ocasio-Cortez noted Thursday, congressional witnesses are under oath — while politicians on cable news (or even in a committee room) are not.

‘The name that has been repeated most often in this hearing is Hunter Biden

Since 2018, Hunter Biden has been under investigation — first by the Justice Department, then by House Republicans — for an array of alleged misdeeds, the most significant of which is trading on his family name and proximity to power to rake in millions of dollars from foreign business associates.

Democrats have long granted that Hunter Biden acted unethically in using his family name to make millions. But they have also said Joe Biden was not involved, did not profit and did not change U.S. policy to help his son during his time as vice president.

Republicans spent much of Thursday’s hearing hammering on Hunter’s conduct, displaying complex diagrams of his alleged shell companies and images of text messages between him and various other Biden family members.

Yet when their focus turned to the president, GOP committee members fell back on speculation and insinuations.

“The only question is, ‘Was the president involved?’” said Turley. “The key here that the committee has to drill down on is whether they can establish a linkage with the influence peddling.”

Hunter Biden
President Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves a court appearance in Wilmington, Del., July 26. (Julio Cortez, AP)

‘We need the impeachment inquiry status … to get the information’

Despite admitting that the current evidence does not support impeachment, Republican witnesses said further investigation is justified.

“I personally think the threshold for an inquiry has been surpassed [and] that you have a duty to inquire,” Turley said.

Republicans gestured at what future hearings might focus on. So far they have not subpoenaed Hunter and Joe Biden’s personal bank accounts because courts would be unlikely to grant them access without evidence of wrongdoing. Now GOP investigators will likely try to get access to those records, since courts may give more leeway to an impeachment proceeding.

“We have led this investigation and now we need the impeachment inquiry status moving forward to get the information we have been obstructed [in getting],” said House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer.

Without such information in hand, and without any material fact witnesses to interrogate, Democrats questioned why the House was bothering to hold an impeachment hearing on the eve of a likely government shutdown — other than to distract the public from former President Trump’s multiple criminal indictments.

“These witnesses are not giving any answers,” said Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla. “They’re just asking more questions.”

And even Turley admitted that unless the inquiry can prove “that type of [financial] nexus” between Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, “then no, I don’t” think impeachment is warranted.