House expected to vote to formalize GOP impeachment inquiry into Biden

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are expected to vote Wednesday to authorize their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden — a formal step they believe will grant them the ability to better enforce their subpoenas in the courts.

“We think a formal vote of the majority of the House, on record, for a power that solely resides with the House — that helps us if, in fact, we’ve got to go to court,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of the GOP leaders in the impeachment push, told reporters Tuesday. “Hopefully, just passing it in and of itself is enough to say, ‘OK, guys, come in and talk to us.’”

The vote is expected in the evening, after 5 p.m. ET. And Republican leaders have expressed confidence they will have the support to officially launch the inquiry.

With the expulsion of former Rep. George Santos of New York this month, Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is struggling with an even narrower majority and can afford to lose only three Republicans on any vote.

Earlier this year, a handful of moderate Republicans had voiced skepticism about whether there was enough evidence to kick off an impeachment investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings. So then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., under pressure from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and others on the right, decided to unilaterally launch the investigation in September without forcing Republicans in more purple districts to take the tough vote.

Three months later, retiring Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado is the only Republican who has signaled his opposition to voting to formalize the inquiry, arguing that the facts don’t support it.

The shift is in part procedural. White House lawyers rejected GOP subpoenas and requests for transcribed interviews with staffers, Biden family members, including his son Hunter, and their associates, arguing that the probe is “illegitimate” because the House hadn’t voted to authorize it.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., has accused Hunter Biden and the Biden family of engaging in “shady business practices” but has yet to demonstrate any concrete evidence of wrongdoing or influence peddling by Biden himself.

Moderates now say they will vote for the inquiry to allow House investigators to enforce their subpoenas and obtain the information they need to complete their investigation.

“If he’s not providing the information because he says there’s no formal impeachment inquiry, that means we need a formal impeachment inquiry to get the information,” said moderate Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb, referring to the president. “I think we have to go down that route. That doesn’t mean we have high crimes or misdemeanors — we may not ever. But let’s get the facts, and we’ll go from there.”

Like Bacon, freshman Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., is another vulnerable Republican facing a tough re-election campaign next year. But he said he backs the impeachment inquiry.

“We know the president’s family has made tens of millions of dollars overseas, from adversarial nations even, in areas in which they had no professional experience,” LaLota told reporters.

“We know subsequently those members gave the president tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars. The inquiry helps to connect, if any, make a connection between those two facts,” he said. “And my constituents desperately want to know and get some answers.”

House Republicans have investigated a $200,000 check the president’s brother James Biden made out to him. Documents reviewed by NBC News show that the president made a $200,000 loan to his brother in 2018, which James Biden repaid with that check, which was marked “loan repayment,” a few months later.

Also Wednesday, Republicans hope to depose Hunter Biden, though it’s unclear whether he will appear. If he doesn’t show, the inquiry vote could tee up a vote to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The two sides have quarreled over how exactly Hunter Biden might testify before Congress. Biden attorney Abbe Lowell has said his client agreed to participate, but only in a public setting. Jordan and Comer have said a public hearing would be fine, but only if Biden sits for a closed-door, transcribed interview first.

Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson, slammed the inquiry vote, saying Republicans are charging ahead with a “partisan smear campaign despite the fact that members of their own party have admitted there is no evidence to support impeaching President Biden.”

“If they press onwards with this baseless fishing expedition, it only proves how divorced from reality this sham investigation is,” Sams said in a statement, “and will come at the expense of meaningful work to actually address the issues the American people care about, like lowering costs, creating jobs, and strengthening our health care.”

Addressing reporters Tuesday, Johnson wouldn’t engage on whether there could be a situation in which the House doesn’t eventually pursue articles of impeachment.

“We have no choice but to fulfill our constitutional responsibility; we have to take the next step. We’re not making a political decision — it’s not. It’s a legal decision,” Johnson said, flanked by members of his leadership team.

“We’re not going to prejudge the outcome of this,” he said. “We can’t, because, again, it’s not a political calculation. We’re following the law.”

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