House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday he is calling on his committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, even as they have yet to prove allegations he directly profited off his son’s foreign business deals.
The move comes amid increasing pressure from his right flank to move ahead with the inquiry, including some on his far right who have threatened to oust McCarthy from his speakership if he does not move swiftly enough on such an investigation. McCarthy is also trying to secure votes as part of negotiations to keep the government funded beyond the September 30 deadline to avert a shutdown.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption,” the California Republican said in remarks outside his office on Capitol Hill. “They warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives. That’s why today I am directing our House (committees) to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.”
The House-led GOP investigations have yet to provide any direct evidence that the president financially benefited from Hunter Biden’s career overseas.
White House spokesman for oversight and investigations Ian Sams called it “extreme politics at its worst.”
“House Republicans have been investigating the President for 9 months, and they’ve turned up no evidence of wrongdoing…His own GOP members have said so…He vowed to hold a vote to open impeachment, now he flip flopped because he doesn’t have support… Extreme politics at its worst,” Sams said in a post to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Launching an impeachment investigation is also likely to divide GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, as some Republicans – even frequent critics of Biden and his administration – have said publicly they think pursuing such a probe is a bad idea. CNN reported Monday that Republicans in the Senate are nervous that the push could backfire politically and give Biden a boost – all the while distracting from their efforts to paint the president as out of touch on the economy.
“We got so many things we need to be focusing on,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said when asked about impeaching Biden. “I don’t see the glaring evidence that says we need to move forward, I didn’t see it in the Trump case and voted against it. I don’t see it in this case.”
And some members of McCarthy’s conference have also pushed back against the impeachment effort, raising the question about whether in such a narrowly divided chamber, does the speaker have a majority to support an inquiry – a vote McCarthy does not appear willing to have at this point.
But McCarthy is facing an increasingly impatient right flank among House Republicans. His announcement came just hours before conservative Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz – who has been agitating for the effort to formally launch an impeachment inquiry – brought forward a motion to remove McCarthy as speaker if he does not comply with his list of demands.
In a floor speech, Gaetz called McCarthy’s announcement “rushed” and “a baby step.”
“This is a baby step following weeks of pressure from House conservatives to do more,” Gaetz said. “We must move faster.”
Gaetz accused McCarthy of violating an agreement the California Republican made in order to win enough support to be elected speaker in January.
“Mr. Speaker you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role,” Gaetz said. “The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate and total compliance or remove you pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.”
According to a GOP source, McCarthy’s announcement that he’s “directing committees” to open a formal inquiry means there will be no floor vote to formally authorize the effort – marking a reversal for the House speaker from comments he previously made. McCarthy had been weighing skipping an impeachment inquiry vote – and received criticism from Democrats for being hypocritical, since he once criticized Democrats for contemplating the same – McCarthy then gave a statement to Breitbart vowing to hold a floor vote if they go that route.
But Tuesday’s news will mark a real effort by McCarthy to start moving ahead and get House Republican skeptics on board with proceeding. A source familiar says McCarthy will not put anything on floor until they know what the numbers are. House Republican leadership will need to formally whip votes at some point which they have not yet done.
Prior to making today’s announcement, McCarthy gave his leadership team and committee chairs a heads up, according to multiple sources.
The three panels expected to take lead, according to a source: the House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio; the House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. James Comer of Kentucky; and the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri. All three have been involved into investigations into the Biden family.
The development comes as the California Republican has been signaling all recess, as CNN has previously reported, that he’s moving closer to moving forward with such an investigation, related to the president’s son Hunter’s business dealings.
In recent weeks, McCarthy has privately told Republicans he plans to pursue an impeachment inquiry into Biden and hopes to start the process by the end of September, according to multiple GOP sources familiar with the conversations. While McCarthy has already publicly threatened to launch an inquiry, sources say that McCarthy has sent even stronger signals about his intentions behind closed doors.
Punchbowl first reported McCarthy’s expected message on an impeachment inquiry.
The expected next step also comes as McCarthy is laying the groundwork to argue to Republican House members that they need to keep the government funded so they can pursue all of these investigative threads. The government faces a funding deadline by the end of this month in order to avert a government shutdown.
McCarthy did not mention holding a vote to launch the inquiry during his remarks Tuesday. McCarthy made his statement calling for a vote to back impeachment earlier this month.
“To open an impeachment inquiry is a serious matter, and House Republicans would not take it lightly or use it for political purposes. The American people deserve to be heard on this matter through their elected representatives,” McCarthy told Breitbart News at the time. “That’s why, if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person.”
The White House highlighted McCarthy’s comments in their response to the speaker’s announcement.
“Eleven days ago, Speaker McCarthy committed that he wouldn’t open an impeachment inquiry without a House vote,” Sams said in a separate post on X.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.