Biden's first impeachment hearing took place: what evidence did the Republicans present?
Republicans leading the impeachment trial of US President Joe Biden detailed foreign payments to members of his family during the first hearing on September 28, but did not present evidence that the Democratic president received personal benefits. The publication told in more detail to Reuters.
The first hearing, held by the House Oversight Committee, examined evidence Republicans have so far collected about the foreign business ventures of Biden's 53-year-old son, Hunter Biden.
“The American people are demanding an account 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 step away from his official duties.
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Democrats and several independent witnesses have said there is no evidence that Biden received any of these payments or otherwise engaged in misconduct while serving as vice president from 2009 to 2017. The White House denies any wrongdoing and says the investigation is politically motivated.
“If Republicans had a smoking gun, or even a dripping water gun, they would introduce it today. But they have nothing,” said Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the commission.
Biden is campaigning for re-election in a likely rematch with Republican Donald Trump, who is bracing for four upcoming criminal trials on charges ranging from trying to overturn 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 until midnight Saturday (Sept. 30), when the fourth partial US government shutdown in a decade will occur if Congress fails to pass legislation to fund federal agencies.
George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley and forensic accountant Bruce Dubinsky said the commission has enough evidence to open an impeachment investigation, but does not have compelling grounds to bring charges.
Another law professor, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, said he had not heard compelling evidence to justify an investigation and warned that the panel was driven by partisan considerations.
A fourth witness, former Justice Department official Eileen O'Connor, said she believed the department had been 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 enacted as vice president during President Barack Obama's administration from 2009 to 2017. Among other things, they allege that the Justice Department interfered with 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 this succeeds, it is extremely unlikely that the Senate, where Democrats have a 51-49 majority, will vote to remove Biden from office.
The investigation is centered on allegations that Biden, while vice president, pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor and protect Burisma, which had Hunter Biden on its board.
Numerous U.S. and foreign officials have said Biden has pursued an official policy to combat corruption in Ukraine.
Democrats unsuccessfully pushed the commission to subpoena former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who sought evidence of Biden's misconduct in Ukraine, as well as former associate Lev Parnas, who condemned Giuliani's efforts.
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Republicans have warned that they plan to request the personal and business banking records of Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president's brother.
Comer provided data on payments received to Hunter from Chinese citizens in 2019, indicating Joe Biden's home address in Delaware as the recipient's address. Republicans have provided no evidence that the elder Biden received the money.
“Once again, Representative Comer is spreading lies to support allegations of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden or his family that evaporate into thin air as soon as the facts emerge,” Hunter Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement. Lowell said the money in question was a loan and that the address given was on Hunter Biden's driver's license at the time.
The White House said Republicans should focus on reaching an agreement that will keep the government running until Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
“The consequences for the American people will be very detrimental,” the White House emphasized at the beginning of the hearings. “Nothing can distract from this.”
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