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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

McCarthy directs committees to launch impeachment inquiry into Biden. Here’s what that means

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday announced he’s directing Republican-led House committees to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, a move that has long been sought by far-right members of the Republican conference.

“House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol. He said that the allegations, “taken together, paint a picture of a culture of corruption.” McCarthy added that Mr. Biden “did lie to the American people about his own knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings,” and said he himself had witnessed this.

Under the Constitution, the House has the authority to charge the president, vice president or other federal official with wrongdoing through the impeachment process. Any of these officials may be impeached for charges of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

What is an impeachment inquiry?

It’s a first step taken by the House in the impeachment process. A House lawmaker may submit a resolution that directs the House Judiciary Committee to investigate alleged wrongdoing by the officer.

If after its probe, the Judiciary Committee determines that the official should be impeached, it writes articles of impeachment and sends them to the full House to be considered.

McCarthy juggles government shutdown and potential Biden impeachment inquiry as House returns

Any member of the House can request to launch an impeachment proceeding, but it’s up to the speaker of the House to decide to proceed with an inquiry, as McCarthy has indicated he will do. The House can vote on formalizing an inquiry, but the Constitution doesn’t require it. In Mr. Biden’s case, the House isn’t expected to take a vote, according to a McCarthy aide.

An impeachment inquiry may increase the House Judiciary Committee’s access to information, butmajority party committes already have substantial authorityto obtain information from the federal government through their subpoena power.

House impeachment resolutions pass with a simple majority vote. If the House votes to impeach an official, it then appoints House managers who present the case against the official in a Senate trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the Senate votes on whether to remove the official from office, requiring a two-thirds vote to do so.

An impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden would be the third presidential impeachment inquiry since 2019. Former President Donald Trumpunderwent two impeachment inquiries, and two impeachments, although he was acquitted by the Senate both times.

— Nikole Killion contributed to this report

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