Biden says Republicans want to impeach him to shut down the government
President Joe Biden on Wednesday said Republicans wanted to impeach him because they want to shut down the government, hours after the White House denounced plans to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the inquiry a “political stunt” and said no evidence has been produced by Republicans against Biden as they investigate the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.
The inquiry is centred on whether Biden benefited from Hunter Biden's business dealings.
Biden said that when Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican lawmaker and staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, was first elected to the US Congress, she said the first thing she wanted to do was impeach him.
“I don't know quite why, but they just knew they wanted to impeach me,” Biden told donors at a fundraiser in Virginia. “Now, the best I can tell, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government.”
Biden said he does not focus on the impeachment inquiry. “I get up every day, not a joke, not focused on impeachment. I've got a job to do,” he said.
The White House has blamed Taylor Greene into pressuring House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in Washington, to order the impeachment inquiry.
McCarthy's move sets the stage for months of divisive House hearings that could distract from lawmakers' efforts to pass spending bills and avoid a government shutdown
and could supercharge the 2024 presidential race, in which Trump hopes to avenge his 2020 election loss to Biden and win back the White House.
“This is an entire exercise of how to do this in an illegitimate way. ... It is going after the president politically, not about the truth,” Jean-Pierre said.
She said Republicans have turned up no evidence that Biden did anything wrong “because the president didn’t do anything wrong.” (Reporting by Jeff Mason, Nandita Bose and Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Diane Craft and Leslie Adler)
FACTBOX-What is the basis for the Republican impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden?
Republicans in the US House of Representatives have opened an impeachment inquiry into Democratic President Joe Biden after months of investigations of his son Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings. They have not found any evidence of misconduct by Biden himself.
The White House says Biden has done nothing wrong and Republicans have no basis for an impeachment inquiry.
Following is some of the evidence that has come to light:
Republicans have accused Biden of profiting from his son's business dealings while serving as vice-president between 2009 and 2017. According to the House Oversight Committee, Biden met with some of Hunter's business partners during this time and allowed his son to travel with him on official overseas trips.
Devon Archer, a business associate of Hunter Biden, told the committee that Hunter Biden sought to create “an illusion of access to his father” and put his father on the phone with foreign associates “maybe 20 times” over the course of about 10 years. Archer said those conversations did not involve any business dealings and he was not aware of any wrongdoing by the elder Biden.
Republicans have pointed to an FBI document from 2020 in which an informant claims the head of Burisma, a Ukrainian company that included Hunter Biden on its board of directors, said: “it cost 5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to another Biden.”
According to Representative Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, the FBI dropped the matter after determining there was no evidence to back it up. The head of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, told the panel that nobody from the company had any contact with Joe Biden or his staff and that the elder Biden did not help the firm. Archer told the committee that he was not aware of any such payments. Another Hunter Biden associate, Eric Schwerin, also told the panel that he was not aware of any financial involvement by Joe Biden in his relatives' businesses.
Republicans on the Oversight Committee also say they have records of $20 million in payments from foreign sources to Biden family members and their business associates. A Washington Post fact check found that $7 million of that money went to Biden family members, most of it to Hunter, and none went to Joe Biden.
PRESSURING UKRAINE'S PROSECUTOR
While serving as vice-president, Biden pressured Ukraine to remove its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
That reflected the official policy of Democratic President Barack Obama's administration, which had concluded Shokin was not doing enough to fight corruption. The European Union and the International Monetary Foundation also backed Shokin's removal on those grounds.
Republicans have claimed he did that to protect Burisma and Hunter Biden from a possible corruption investigation.
US foreign policy officials have testified that Hunter Biden's role with Burisma did not influence the government's decision to seek Shokin's ouster. Government records released by House Democrats show that US officials criticised Shokin for not bringing corruption charges against Burisma. A 2020 investigation by Senate Republicans found that US diplomats viewed Hunter Biden's involvement with Burisma as “very awkward” while they were pushing an anticorruption agenda. The investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing by the then-vice president.
Hunter Biden, who has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, has been under federal investigation since 2019. A proposed agreement that would have had him plead guilty to tax and firearms charges was rejected by a judge in July and US Special Prosecutor David Weiss has said he intends to file new charges by the end of the month.
An IRS agent told the Oversight Committee that the Justice Department repeatedly stonewalled the probe. But Weiss, a Trump appointee who has led the investigation, has said the Justice Department has not interfered. US attorney-general Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel in August to give him more authority and independence. A former FBI agent who worked on the probe told the Oversight Committee that he was not aware of any political interference in the case, though he said he was frustrated by a decision by higher-ups to block an interview with Hunter Biden in December 2020, shortly after Biden won the presidency.
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