by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The House formally voted to open an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden.
This is a political victory for House Speaker Mike Johnson. Prior to [Wednes]day, Republicans didn’t have the votes for an inquiry and had relied on the Nancy Pelosi precedent of simply deeming an inquiry open. This was embarrassing, since they had so strenuously objected to Pelosi’s tactic back during the Trump administration. Now, thanks to the unanimous support of their members, they have done it the right way.
Is it a good idea to go down this route? Republicans make much of the fact that they will be in a stronger position to enforce their subpoenas now that they are conducting an inquiry. But they had their dramatic showdown with Hunter Biden over his subpoena yesterday prior to the impeachment vote. It’d have made more sense, as our own Andy McCarthy points out, to authorize the impeachment inquiry first, and then subpoena Hunter.
Regardless, even if the House holds Hunter Biden in contempt for not showing up for his testimony, there’s no way this Justice Department would ever prosecute him for it. And even if Hunter shows up, he’s clearly going to take the Fifth — impeachment inquiry or no.
At the end of the day, the House investigation into the Biden influence-peddling business is about uncovering as many facts as possible for the sake of public accountability and, in sheer political terms, convincing the public the president was part of an inherently corrupt scheme to profit off his influence and prominence (since this seems pretty clearly to be true). Republicans have already made much progress in this project. Impeachment might help by bringing some more attention to the investigation. But it also adds an element of complexity since the standard no longer is whether what Joe Biden did was dishonest or wrong but whether it constitutes bribery or another high crime or misdemeanor.