The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives will hold its first hearing on Thursday in its impeachment inquiry against Democratic President Joe Biden, two days before Congress’s deadline to avert a government shutdown.
The hearing by the House Oversight Committee is not likely to reveal new information about Biden’s financial ties to his troubled son Hunter Biden, 53, who pursued a range of international business ventures while struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
Instead, it will serve as a justification of sorts for the probe and a review of what details Republicans have uncovered so far, according to James Comer, the panel’s chair.
Lawmakers will hear from a forensic accountant, a former U.S. Justice Department official and a law professor.
Republicans allege Biden and his family personally profited from policies he pursued as vice president during former President Barack Obama’s administration between 2009 and 2017. Separately, they also allege the Justice Department interfered with a tax investigation of Hunter Biden.
They have yet to provide any evidence of improper conduct by the elder Biden. The White House says the inquiry is unfounded and driven by politics ahead of the 2024 presidential election, when Biden will likely face a rematch with Republican Donald Trump, who faces four upcoming criminal trials.
It is unclear if House Republicans, who have a narrow 221-212 majority, would have the votes at the end of the inquiry to support actual impeachment. But even if that vote succeeded, it is highly unlikely that the Senate, where Democrats hold a 51-49 majority, would vote to remove Biden from office.
At the center of the investigation are allegations that Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukraine to fire a top prosecutor because the prosecutor was investigating Burisma, a company for which Hunter Biden was on the board of directors.
But Ukraine’s president at time, Petro Poroshenko, told Fox News Channel on Saturday that was not the case.
House Republicans have said they plan to seek personal and business bank records for Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s brother.
On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee said it had obtained bank wires from Chinese nationals sent to Hunter, listing Joe Biden’s home address in Delaware as the destination, before he was president. It is not clear if Biden received the money.
The hearing comes as House Republicans are locked in a showdown with Biden and his fellow Democrats over government funding for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Wide swaths of the government will shut down if they do not reach agreement.
A prolonged shutdown could slow the impeachment inquiry as fewer administration officials would be available to respond to information requests.
White House spokesman Ian Sams said House Republicans were prioritizing “conspiracy theories” over keeping the government open.
Former President Trump has cheered on the inquiry. Trump was impeached twice during his four-year presidency and faces four criminal indictments — the first time for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden ahead of the 2020 election. Trump was acquitted by the Senate both times.