White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre answers questions from reporters at a White House briefing on Sept. 13, 2023. (Ashley Murray/States Newsroom)
WASHINGTON — The White House is lambasting the House GOP’s decision to open an impeachment inquiry into unproven allegations that President Joe Biden profited from his son’s international business scheme during his time as vice president in the Obama administration.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday that he directed several of the chamber’s committees to open the formal inquiry.
The California Republican said in a press conference that the “allegations paint a picture, a picture of corruption.”
But the White House calls the action “baseless” and a “political stunt.”
“They have spent all year investigating the president, that’s what they spent all year doing, and have turned up with no evidence, none, that he did anything wrong. I mean that is what we’ve heard over and over again from their almost year-long investigation. And that’s because the president didn’t do anything wrong,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during Wednesday’s White House press briefing.
“Even House Republicans have said the evidence does not exist,” she said.
Jean-Pierre referred many reporters’ questions to the White House counsel and said Biden, who is running for re-election in 2024, will continue to focus on “real issues that matter to Americans.”
Biden is scheduled to deliver a “major economic address” in Maryland Thursday.
White House counsel spokesman Ian Sams sent a memo Wednesday morning to editors of major U.S. news outlets urging them to scrutinize the GOP inquiry.
“After nearly 9 months of investigating, House Republicans haven’t been able to turn up any evidence of the President doing anything wrong. But House Republicans led by Marjorie Taylor Greene are nonetheless opening a baseless impeachment inquiry of President Biden – despite many House Republicans openly admitting there is no evidence on which to support it,” wrote Sams, who is also a special assistant to the president and senior adviser.
Far-right GOP House members, including Georgia Republican Greene and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, have pressured McCarthy to begin impeachment proceedings and threatened to oust the speaker if he did not and withhold their support for government funding.
McCarthy faces major hurdles in rallying far-right members to support a compromise funding deal.
The White House counsel memo cited several GOP House lawmakers who have spoken out against McCarthy’s decision to start an impeachment inquiry now.
Sams referred to the words of GOP Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska who said: “I think before we move on to (an) impeachment inquiry, we should … there should be a direct link to the president in some evidence. We should have some clear evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor, not just assuming there may be one. I think we need to have more concrete evidence to go down that path.”
The White House attached a 14-page document to the memo refuting seven Republican accusations that Biden is allegedly compromised by business dealings with foreign adversaries and that he interfered in a Trump-appointed special prosecutor’s investigation of his son, Hunter, among other claims.
Not all Republicans are skeptical. U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and Rep. Ron Estes, who both represent Kansas, expressed enthusiasm for the inquiry.
“The Biden family has demonstrated a long history and culture of corruption,” Marshall said. “We know when there’s smoke, there’s fire. The American people deserve to know if the president of the United States is compromised, and I look forward to a full investigation and its findings.”
McCarthy’s move to open an impeachment inquiry allows the leader to avoid, for now, a House vote to launch the probe. It’s unclear if he could garner the necessary 218 votes.
U.S. GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, will lead the inquiry. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith of Missouri will assist, McCarthy said.
House Democrats immediately panned McCarthy’s decision Tuesday.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat and chair of the House Progressive Caucus, posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the inquiry is a distraction “from the fact that the GOP can’t even pass bills to fund the government.”
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