The speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Republican Kevin McCarthy announced this Tuesday, September 12, the beginning of an investigation that will lead to an impeachment trial against the president Joe Biden for alleged corruption.
“I am asking a House committee to open a formal impeachment investigation”said the Republican congressman, who believes that the Democratic leader has “lied” to the people of the United States.
The US Constitution states that Congress can remove the president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
House Republicans, who have held the majority since January, are conducting a series of parliamentary investigations into the affairs of Hunter Biden the president’s youngest son.
Republican lawmakers say they have “identified serious and credible allegations about President Biden’s conduct,” McCarthy said, accusing the Democrat of fueling a “culture of corruption.”
He also assured that the president “lied to the American people about what he knew about his family’s businesses abroad.”
For the White House, this process is “extreme politics at its worst.” Democrats respond that these efforts by the right are nothing more than smoke screens used to hide the legal problems that are accumulating for Trump, who has been criminally indicted four times in less than six months.
Following McCarthy’s remarks, Ian Sams, government spokesman for oversight and investigations, said: “The House of Representatives has investigated the president for nine months and they have found no evidence of wrongdoing.”
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The president’s son, a 53-year-old former businessman, has become the favorite target of the American right.
Republican representatives accuse him of having done business in Ukraine and China helped by the contacts and name of his father, then Barack Obama’s vice president (2009-2017).
Biden has always publicly supported his son, who has a history of drug addiction and problems with the law.
The opening of an impeachment procedure has been demanded for months by the Trumpist wing of the Republican Party, with which McCarthy had to make numerous compromises to access power in January.
However, several moderate Republican legislators oppose this investigation for fear of transforming the procedure into a purely partisan exercise.
The investigation will be led by James Comer, head of the House investigative committee, and Jim Jordan, head of the judiciary committee. Both men are political allies of McCarthy.
Impeachment: what is the procedure like?
The US Constitution provides that Congress can remove the president (or vice president, or federal judges) for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The procedure takes place in two stages: first, the House of Representatives votes, by simple majority, on the articles detailing the charges against the president: this is what is called “impeachment” in English.
In the event of impeachment, the Senate, the Upper House of Congress, puts the president on trial.
At the end of the debates, the one hundred senators vote on each article. A two-thirds majority is required to convict, in which case impeachment is automatic and final. Otherwise, the president is acquitted.
At the moment, this investigation has virtually no chance of leading to Biden’s impeachment. The thing is that Democrats have the majority of seats in the Senate, the chamber in charge of judging presidents.
Until now, a president has never been removed from office in an impeachment trial in the history of the United States; but three were charged: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998 and donald trump in 2019 and 2021. All of them were eventually acquitted.
Richard Nixon preferred to resign in 1974 to avoid certain impeachment by Congress due to the Watergate scandal.
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The pressures from the “Trumpist” wing of the Republican Party and the consequences of the impeachment
The ‘Trumpist’ wing of the Republican Party has been pushing for the impeachment of President Biden since his election. These legislators say they have identified “serious and credible allegations about President Biden’s conduct,” which is now the reason for opening this impeachment investigation, declared their leader, Kevin McCarthy.
As explained to the AFP political analyst Larry Sabato, McCarthy had to make numerous compromises with that sector of his party to come to power in January and ran the risk of “being replaced as speaker of the House” if he did not approve this long-demanded investigation.
The Democrats, for their part, accuse that this procedure is carried out for political purposes, when there is just over a year left for the presidential elections in the United States and they point to the Republicans for making the House of Representatives “a branch” of the campaign of Trump.
“I think this could be counterproductive for Republicans,” said Sabato, who believes there is “little or no evidence” to defend his investigation.
However, the image of righteousness that Biden has tried to build could be damaged by the televised hearings on his son Hunter’s affairs.
And, at the legislative level, this procedure could further strain relations between the two parties in Congress, which must find an agreement on the budget plan: they have until September 30 to approve a new budget for the federal State; Otherwise, they risk depleting public finances.