US President Joe Biden could be facing a possible impeachment inquiry over his family’s business dealings.
US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said he is directing committees to open a formal investigation into what he called a “culture of corruption” around the first family.
He said over the past few months “House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct”.
Mr McCarthy is planning to convene lawmakers behind closed doors multiple times this week, including for a meeting to discuss a potential impeachment.
“I am directing our House committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden,” McCarthy told reporters.
“We will go where the evidence takes us.”
Republicans, who now narrowly control the House, have accused Mr Biden of profiting while he served as vice president from 2009 to 2017 from his son Hunter Biden’s foreign business ventures. They have not yet presented substantiation.
Speaker McCarthy said several committees will begin gathering evidence of possible financial misconduct.
Mark Bednar, a spokesperson for Speaker McCarthy, later said that the House was not yet expected to vote on an impeachment inquiry.
Democratic senate leader Chuck Schumer has branded the suggestion of an inquiry as “absurd”.
“The American people want us to do something that will make their lives better, not go off on these chases and witch hunts,” he added.
RED MEAT FOR THE RIGHT WING OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
It is red meat for the right wing.
Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy is under pressure to placate party members, right-leaning and disgruntled, who had put him on notice that his job was on the line.
He’ll hope that stepping up the pursuit of Joe Biden quietens the drumbeat.
McCarthy is charging the House Oversight Committee with the formal impeachment inquiry – it’s the first step in the impeachment process, gathering evidence for charges that could be taken to a vote on the House floor.
Whatever its progress there, it would certainly flounder in any onward journey through the Senate – it would need a two-thirds majority in a chamber where the Democrats have a majority.
Factor in that the same committee has been looking into allegations of dodgy Biden business dealings without finding concrete evidence and actual impeachment seems a distant prospect.
It doesn’t insulate the president from the politics of impeachment, however.
A former business associate of Hunter Biden told a House hearing that the president’s son sold the “illusion” of access to power while his father was vice president, according to a transcript released last month.
The White House has said there is no basis for an investigation and Mr Biden has mocked Republicans over a possible impeachment.
Many Republicans were infuriated when the House, then controlled by Democrats, twice impeached President Donald Trump, in 2019 and 2021, though he was acquitted both times in the Senate.
Some on the party’s right have said they would try to remove Mr McCarthy as the leader of the House if he did not move ahead with an impeachment effort against the president.
However, any impeachment effort against Mr Biden would be unlikely to succeed as even if the Republican-controlled House votes to impeach the president, an uncertain prospect in itself given the party’s narrow vote margin, it would almost certainly fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate.