US House Republicans ready vote to formalize Biden impeachment inquiry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote as soon as Wednesday to formalize its impeachment inquiry of Democratic President Joe Biden, whose son Hunter Biden has been called to testify.

House Republicans allege that Biden and his family improperly profited from decisions the elder Biden participated in while serving as vice president from 2009-17. Their probe focuses closely on the business dealings of the younger Biden, and it is not clear if he will appear.

The White House has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the probe as politically motivated ahead of the 2024 presidential election, in which Republican Donald Trump, the only U.S. president to be impeached twice, is the leading contender to take on Biden. Trump was acquitted by the Senate both times.

House Republicans are pushing ahead with a plan to vote on the matter before leaving for a three-week holiday break on Thursday, even as other legislative questions including a bill on border security, whether to provide additional aid to Ukraine and Israel and how to fund the government past early February remain unaddressed.

The House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena on Nov. 8 calling on Hunter Biden, 53, to testify behind closed doors.

He offered to testify publicly, with his attorney writing in a letter: “We have seen you use closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public.”

House Republicans rebuffed the offer, saying he must first appear for a closed-door interview before any public testimony. On Dec. 6, lawmakers threatened to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress if he did not show.

“There is no ‘choice’ for Mr. Biden to make; the subpoenas compel him to appear for a deposition on Dec. 13,” James Comer and Jim Jordan, the chairs of two of the panels at the center of the inquiry, wrote in a letter to Hunter Biden’s lawyer.

Hunter Biden’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday’s planned testimony.

Hunter Biden faces an array of legal woes. In September, prosecutors with U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss’ office charged him over illegal drug use while buying a firearm. And last week a grand jury indicted Hunter Biden for tax offenses.

His scheduled deposition will come one day after a hearing in the House Rules Committee on the resolution to authorize the inquiry. In the hearing, Democrats attacked the inquiry and pushed for open hearings.

“It has no credibility, no legitimacy and no integrity. It’s a distraction to draw attention away from House Republicans’ do-nothing Congress that has failed to pass any meaningful laws to help the American people,” said James McGovern, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, at a hearing to mark up the impeachment resolution,

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)

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