Republicans hold first Biden impeachment inquiry hearing

President faces allegations of benefiting from his son's overseas business dealings

It is alleged President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, a company for which his son Hunter was a board member. AP Photo
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A Republican-led congressional committee on Thursday held the first hearing in its impeachment inquiry into US President Joe Biden over allegations that he benefited from his son's business dealings.

In a small, crowded hearing room, the House oversight committee was not expected to present any striking new evidence to support Republican assertions that Mr Biden benefited financially during his time as vice president from the ventures of his son Hunter Biden.

“Today, the House oversight committee will examine over two dozen pieces of evidence revealing Joe Biden's corruption and abuse of public office,” the Republican chairman of the committee, James Comer, said in his opening statements.

“This includes emails, text messages, bank records and testimony of Biden business associates."

The hearing was taking place two days before a potential government shutdown, amid an impasse between Republicans and Democrats on how to fund the government over the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1.

At the start of the hearing, Democratic politicians displayed a screen with a countdown from 62 hours, the time left until the government shuts down.

“If the Republicans had a smoking gun or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it today but they've got nothing on Joe Biden,” said Jamie Raskin, the senior Democratic congressman on the committee.

The committee heard from two legal scholars, a forensic accountant and a former Justice Department tax lawyer.

"I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment," said Georgetown law professor Jonathan Turley, one of the expert witnesses.

"But I also do believe that the House has passed the threshold for an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Biden."

Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State said Thursday's hearing, which did not attract much media attention, was preliminary and "largely for show".

Prof Kalt said the move by Republican officials was probably part of a recent rise "in futile impeachment".

"It's probably just another example of how they can posture and calling it impeachment makes it look more serious," he told The National.

"There's also an element of payback for the last two impeachments. A sort of tit-for-tat approach is part of the problem here."

Republican front-runner Donald Trump, the former president and likely rival to Mr Biden, was impeached twice while he was in office and is facing four indictments.

It is highly unlikely that the House would vote in favour of impeachment. Even if they did, the Senate, where Democrats hold a two-seat majority, is even less likely to vote in favour of removing Mr Biden from office.

At the centre of the investigation are allegations that Mr Biden, who was vice president at the time, pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, a company for which his son Hunter was a board member.

This week, Republican officials alleged $250,000 was wired from China, listing Mr Biden's home in Delaware.

“Biden also lied to the American people about his family making money from China,” Mr Comer said.

Democratic leaders say Republicans have no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing by Mr Biden.

On Thursday, Democratic officials said Hunter Biden shares the residence with his father and was receiving payments from numerous countries as part of his work.

Updated: September 29, 2023, 3:21 AM