In a surprising turn of events, Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday that he has directed top congressional Republicans to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. This decision marks a significant change in strategy for McCarthy, who had previously insisted that a full House vote was necessary for an impeachment inquiry to proceed.
The move comes as McCarthy faces mounting pressure from right-wing members of Congress who have demanded swift action and deep spending cuts, threatening to depose him if he does not comply. McCarthy's decision to initiate an impeachment inquiry without the full House's approval reflects his awareness that he lacks the necessary votes among his fellow Republicans to proceed with the investigation.
McCarthy's justification for bypassing a House vote lies in the precedent set by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced a formal impeachment inquiry against former President Donald Trump in 2019 before the House had approved it. McCarthy argued that Pelosi's actions had changed the rules and, therefore, he was following that precedent.
However, this move is not without controversy. Democrats were quick to condemn McCarthy's about-face, highlighting his previous statements that an impeachment inquiry required a full House vote. Representative Ilhan Omar accused McCarthy of hypocrisy and stated that he knows impeachment is too extreme to pass the House, even with a Republican majority.
The decision to proceed with an impeachment inquiry without a full House vote raises legal questions regarding the authority to issue and enforce subpoenas. While there are no binding rules on how to initiate an impeachment inquiry, a 2020 Justice Department memo argued that such an inquiry is invalid without a vote of the House. It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will make a similar argument.
For McCarthy, the impeachment inquiry is seen as a means to give congressional investigators more power to delve into the Biden family's financial affairs. McCarthy asserted that serious and credible allegations of corruption surround President Biden's conduct and that an impeachment inquiry is necessary to uncover the truth.
If the impeachment inquiry is approved, House investigators will issue subpoenas for the bank records of President Biden and his family members. McCarthy's decision to endorse an impeachment inquiry comes in response to pressure from his right flank, including Representative Matt Gaetz, who has been critical of the speaker and has even outlined the conservative case against him.
On the other side, Democrats have been preparing their defenses of the president. Representative Jamie Raskin and other committee members have been strategizing to counter the allegations brought forth by Republicans. They released a memo detailing what they called the "overwhelming failure" of the Republicans' investigation, emphasizing that no evidence of wrongdoing has been found.
In the end, McCarthy's decision to initiate an impeachment inquiry without a full House vote highlights the intense political pressure he faces and the divisions within the Republican Party. It remains to be seen how this impeachment inquiry will unfold and what impact it will have on the Biden administration.
themes: Joe Biden Donald Trump