The Republicans in the US House of Representatives are pushing forward the investigation into possible impeachment proceedings against US President Joe Biden and are making the investigation official.

The chamber voted with a majority of Republicans to move forward with the investigation and “formalize” it. It is a technical step that Republicans hope will give them more legal leverage in their investigations. This does not open impeachment proceedings against the president. “Instead of doing something to improve the lives of Americans, they are focused on attacking me with lies,” Biden said in response to the vote.

No clear evidence so far

Some Republicans accuse Biden, a Democrat, of abusing his public office for his family’s financial gain. However, they have not yet provided clear evidence of serious misconduct. Biden rejects the allegations. The president accused Republicans of inaction on important issues such as approving more aid to Ukraine. Instead, they “waste” their time on a “political stunt.”

The House of Representatives voted 221 to 212 to formally open the investigation. The Democrats voted unanimously against it. The Republican chairman of the Chamber of Congress, Kevin McCarthy, who has since been fired, initiated the investigation in September. But he shied away from a vote on it in the parliamentary chamber. His concern was that some more moderate Republicans might vote against it. That hasn’t happened now.

Voting should create a legal basis

Republicans handling the investigation argued last week that they lacked the necessary legal basis for subpoenas or document requests. The White House had handed over documents. According to the Republicans, however, these are not sufficient.

The new Republican chairman of the chamber, Mike Johnson, gave in to the right wing of his party with the vote. He pushed for the investigation to be made official. The current vote ensures that the investigation will last throughout the entire election campaign for the 2024 presidential election.

It is questionable whether the investigation will actually result in impeachment proceedings. Because this would first require a majority in the House of Representatives. The Republicans have a slim majority there, but several more moderate Republicans have recently expressed criticism of the project. They might then shy away from actually opening proceedings.

Even if it were successful in the House of Representatives, the other chamber of Congress, the Senate, would then have to decide whether to impeach the President. Biden’s Democrats have a narrow majority there. The possibility that the president could ultimately be found guilty and removed from office has so far been ruled out.

Biden’s son Hunter in focus

Many Republicans repeatedly link the president to the business of his son Hunter Biden. On Wednesday morning, Hunter Biden, who faces charges including possible tax crimes, stood before the US Congress and offered to testify against his father in a public hearing on the impeachment investigation. The Republicans had summoned him to testify behind closed doors. However, he refused this for strategic reasons. “Let me be as clear as possible that my father had no financial involvement in my business,” Hunter Biden emphasized.

Former US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on his party colleagues in the past to initiate impeachment proceedings against Biden. During Trump’s term in office, Democrats in Congress initiated two impeachment proceedings against him. The Republican was the first president in US history to face two such impeachment trials in the Senate – one because of allegations of abuse of power, one because of the violent storming of the US Capitol by his supporters. He was acquitted in both cases by the Senate, where his party was still in charge at the time.

The election campaign for the next presidential election is now underway, in which Biden and Trump want to become their parties’ candidates. Trump is facing four criminal charges in the middle of the election campaign – two of them related to his attempts to retroactively overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.