BSS
  28 Sep 2023, 15:06

Republicans advance Biden impeachment probe dismissed as 'stunt'

  WASHINGTON, Sept 28, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - US Republicans launch impeachment 
inquiry hearings into Joe Biden on Thursday, escalating an eight-month 
corruption investigation that has failed to uncover evidence of wrongdoing by 
the president.

The party says the information it has amassed warrants streamlining its 
multiple probes into an official inquiry empowered to unleash investigators 
from three House committees to subpoena Biden's bank records.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has accused Biden of lying about his knowledge 
of his son Hunter Biden's business dealings, which Republicans claim 
corruptly benefited the Democratic leader when he was vice president.

"House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into 
President Biden's conduct," McCarthy said as he announced the inquiry, under 
pressure from his party's far-right fringe to target the president.

"Taken together, these allegations paint a picture of a culture of 
corruption."

The Biden administration has dismissed the effort as a "stunt," accusing 
Republicans of trying to distract voters, days ahead of a looming government 
shutdown sparked by far-right lawmakers.

- 'Chaotic' -

The Constitution provides that Congress may remove a president for "treason, 
bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Impeachment by the House -- the political equivalent of a criminal indictment 
-- would spark a "trial" by the Senate, with the president losing his job if 
he is convicted.

The House Oversight Committee will hold the first hearing Thursday morning, 
with Republicans framing the session as a "refresher course" on the panel's 
work so far.

But opponents say the idea is simply to have a damaging open-ended inquiry 
going into an election year, and that an impeachment would never have 
sufficient support in the House, where the Republicans have a razor-thin 
majority.

The probe has already obtained more than 12,000 pages of subpoenaed bank 
records from Biden family members and hours of testimony from Hunter's 
business associates and from federal investigators.

"(The) problem they have is not that they can't get the evidence. The problem 
they have is that the evidence does not support their allegations," Dan 
Goldman, a Democratic congressman and the lead counsel in Republican former 
president Donald Trump's own first impeachment, said recently in Congress.

"And so why are we going to spend the next few months on bogus and sham 
impeachment inquiry? Because Donald Trump wants them to, and Donald Trump has 
been calling them and urging them to do it, because he was impeached twice."

- 'Smearing Joe Biden' -

One allegation being advanced by Republicans -- that Biden was bribed by 
Ukrainian firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board -- is based on 
an anonymous tip that Trump's Justice Department investigated and dropped.

A related theory -- debunked by multiple federal officials -- involves false 
allegations that, as vice president, Biden got a Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor 
Shokin fired to benefit Burisma.

In fact, it was US and European Union policy that Shokin was hampering 
efforts to combat corruption in the ex-Soviet nation and needed to go.

Republicans have also presented a former business partner of Hunter Biden, 
Devon Archer, as a star witness who would offer damning evidence that the 
president made money from his son's contacts.

Pressed repeatedly, he testified that he had never seen or heard the younger 
Biden discuss business with his father.

Republicans seized on Archer's testimony that the president had greeted his 
son's associates during numerous family telephone calls, claiming Biden had 
helped his son create the impression that his contacts had access to the 
White House.

But they have presented no evidence of influence-peddling by Biden himself.

Republicans also claim Biden interfered with a criminal investigation into 
various allegations against Hunter but, again, the claim looks thin since the 
president's son was indicted on gun charges by a Trump-appointed prosecutor 
that newly elected Biden allowed to complete his investigation.

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