House Republicans, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, have unanimously voted to formalize an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The 221-212 vote is seen as a crucial step by the GOP, potentially leading to the drafting of articles of impeachment as early as January.
The decision, signaling unity within the Republican ranks, aims to enhance the legal authority of GOP subpoenas. This move follows months of deliberation, especially among Republicans in battleground districts, regarding the appropriateness of a formal inquiry.
“This is an important step. The impeachment power resides solely with the House of Representatives. If a majority of the House now says we’re in an official impeachment inquiry … that carries weight. That’s going to help us get these witnesses in,” Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) stated prior to the vote.
Despite progressing towards potentially making Biden the fourth U.S. president to face impeachment, GOP leaders are keen to differentiate Wednesday’s vote from a definitive decision on impeachment articles. The formal inquiry was partly spurred by a letter from the White House, which, citing a Trump-era Justice Department opinion, declared Republican requests invalid without a formal vote.
Some Republicans, like Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), expressed initial reluctance but were compelled to support the inquiry following the White House’s stance on information provision, Politico reported.
The vote also saw unexpected unanimity, with Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), previously critical of the investigation, voting in favor. Buck clarified his stance, stating that his vote was in support of investigation rather than impeachment, influenced by the White House’s recent communication. He previously called it “impeachment theater.”
The formalization of the inquiry occurred shortly after Hunter Biden skipped a scheduled deposition, offering instead to testify publicly. President Joe Biden criticized the inquiry in a statement, labeling it a “baseless political stunt.”
Looking ahead, House Republicans are determined to enforce subpoenas, including compelling Hunter Biden’s testimony and potentially engaging in legal battles over compliance. They are also awaiting documentation from the National Archives, which recently released new records.
The White House has defended its cooperation level, citing the provision of extensive financial documents and interviews.
Democrats, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), have criticized the Republican move, asserting that independent reporting has discredited allegations against President Biden.