Republicans leading the impeachment trial of US President Joe Biden detailed foreign payments to his family members during the first hearing on September 28, but did not present evidence that the Democratic president received personal benefits.
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The first hearing, held by the House Oversight Committee, examined evidence Republicans have collected so far about the foreign business ventures of Biden’s 53-year-old son, Hunter Biden.
“The American people demand an accounting for this culture of corruption,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer. He said Biden lied about his family members’ business dealings and failed to recuse himself from his official duties.
The Senate Trial and its Outcome
Democrats and several independent witnesses have said there is no evidence that Biden received any of those payments or otherwise engaged in misconduct while serving as vice president from 2009 to 2017. The White House denies any wrongdoing and says the research is politically motivated.
“If the Republicans had a smoking gun, or even a water-dropping gun, they would be showing it today. But they have nothing,” said Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the committee.
Biden is campaigning for re-election in a potential rematch with Republican Donald Trump, who is preparing for four upcoming criminal trials on charges ranging from trying to sway the 2020 election to mishandling classified documents while leaving the presidency.
Trump, who has been impeached twice during his four years in office, and some of his Republican supporters have been calling for Biden’s impeachment for months.
Democrats prominently displayed a clock counting down the minutes to midnight Saturday (Sept. 30), when the fourth partial shutdown of the US government in a decade will occur if Congress does not pass legislation to fund federal agencies.
Transcripts of Conversations
George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley and forensic accountant Bruce Dubinsky said the committee has enough evidence to launch an impeachment inquiry, but lacks compelling grounds to file charges.
Another law professor, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, said he had heard no compelling evidence to warrant an investigation and warned that the commission was being driven by partisan considerations.
Testimonies from Key Witnesses
A fourth witness, former Justice Department official Eileen O’Connor, said she believed the department was lenient in its criminal investigation of Hunter Biden, who faces gun charges after years of battling drug and alcohol addiction.
Republicans say Biden and his family benefited from policies he adopted as vice president during President Barack Obama’s administration from 2009 to 2017. Among other things, they allege the Justice Department interfered in the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden .
It is unclear whether Republicans, who hold a narrow 221-212 majority in the House, will have enough votes at the end of the investigation to support actual impeachment. But even if that succeeds, it is highly unlikely that the Senate, where Democrats hold a 51-49 majority, will vote to remove Biden from office.
The investigation centers on allegations that Biden, while vice president, pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor and protect Burisma, which had Hunter Biden on its board.
Many US and foreign officials have said that Biden has pursued an official anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.
Democrats unsuccessfully pushed the committee to subpoena former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who sought evidence of Biden’s misconduct in Ukraine, and former aide Lev Parnas, who condemned Giuliani’s efforts.
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Republicans have warned they plan to request the personal and business bank records of Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s brother.
Comer provided data on payments he received to Hunter from Chinese citizens in 2019, listing Joe Biden’s home address in Delaware as the recipient’s address. Republicans have not provided evidence that the elder Biden received the money.
“Once again, Rep. Comer is spreading lies to support allegations of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden or his family that evaporate into thin air once the facts emerge,” Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abby Lowell, said in a statement. Lowell said the money in question was a loan and the address given was on Hunter Biden’s driver’s license at the time.
The White House said Republicans should focus on reaching a deal that would keep the government running until Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
“The consequences for the American people will be very damaging,” the White House said at the start of the hearings. “Nothing can distract from that.”