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House Republicans launched their first formal impeachment hearing against President Biden on Thursday morning, as the House Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees try to link the president to his son Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings.
The hearing came weeks after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy allowed the chairmen of those committees to open the inquiry without a floor vote. Democrats say the GOP push to impeach Biden is baseless and that Republicans have failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing.
The witnesses included Eileen O'Connor, former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, and Jonathan Turley, a law professor who testified in support of former President Donald Trump during his impeachment inquiry in 2019.
Our live coverage has concluded. Check out Yahoo News for the latest, and see the blog below for a recap and analysis of Thursday afternoon's debate.
• House Republicans are holding their first formal public hearing in their impeachment inquiry against President Biden.
• Republicans have insisted for months that they have the grounds to impeachment proceedings, while Democrats say they have uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing.
• Two of the GOP's own witnesses agreed, saying they have seen no evidence to support impeachment, thought they believe the inquiry is warranted.
• The hearing comes just weeks after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy approved impeachment proceedings without holding a floor vote.
• The federal government will shut down this weekend if House Republicans cannot agree on a spending bill to keep it funded.
Boebert didn't read the transcript of GOP witness Devon Archer
Boebert takes her seat at Thursday's hearing. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert alleged that Hunter Biden received $3.5 million from Russian billionaire Elena Baturina. But Republican witness Devon Archer, Hunter's former business partner, told the House Oversight Committee that Hunter "was not involved" in the business deal with Baturina.
Fact check: Mace’s false claim about a supposed bribe
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina claimed at the Thursday hearing, “We already know the president took bribes from Burisma,” a Ukrainian energy company where Hunter Biden sat on the board of directors.
Facts First: Mace’s claim is false; we do not “already know” that Joe Biden took any bribe. The claim about a bribe from Burisma is a completely unproven allegation. The FBI informant who relayed the claim to the FBI in 2020 was merely reporting something he said he had been told by Burisma’s chief executive. Later in the hearing, a witness called by the committee Republicans, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, called “the bribery allegation” the most concerning piece of evidence he had heard today – but he immediately cautioned that “you have to only take that so far” given that it is “a secondhand account.”
According to an internal FBI document made public by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa earlier this year over the strong objections of the FBI, the informant said in 2020 – when Donald Trump was president – that the CEO of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, had claimed in 2016 that he made a $5 million payment to “one Biden” and another $5 million payment to “another Biden.” But the FBI document did not contain any proof for the claim, and the document said the informant was “not able to provide any further opinion as to the veracity” of the claim.
Who are the GOP witnesses?
Jonathan Turley, Eileen O'Connor, Bruce Dubinsky and Michael Gerhardt are sworn in before testifying Thursday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
House Republicans said they would begin presenting the "basis" for their impeachment inquiry on Thursday, but observers didn't expect to see any new evidence, as CNN explains:
"The GOP witnesses aren’t fact witnesses and don’t have firsthand knowledge of anything regarding Hunter Biden’s overseas deals or his father’s potential involvement."
Bruce Dubinsky is a forensic account who has testified as an expert witness more than 100 times, according to his company biography. He has previously testified on behalf of large corporations, family trust funds – and also for the Justice Department, including against ex-employees of financial fraudster Bernie Madoff, according to court filings.
Eileen O’Connor worked for the Justice Department’s tax division during the Bush administration and advised the Trump transition in 2016. She has been far more outspoken with criticism of Hunter Biden, reinforcing existing GOP narratives. She wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed in July titled, “You’d Go to Prison for What Hunter Biden Did,” which championed many of the claims from two IRS whistleblowers who were involved in the Hunter Biden criminal investigation. O’Connor’s column also included a debunked lie about the Russia probe. Her LinkedIn feed is filled with right-wing material, including claims of an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border, reposts from GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and a link to a fundraiser for the 16 fake GOP electors facing criminal charges in Michigan.
Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University Law School professor, has repeatedly backed up Republican arguments on key legal matters in recent years, including his opposition to Trump’s first and second impeachments. Turley was one of the witnesses called by Republicans during the 2019 hearings for Trump’s first impeachment. He is a Fox News contributor.
Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, of California, noted that Speaker Kevin McCarthy had said he would not open an impeachment inquiry without a vote on the House floor before doing just that less than two weeks later. With Republicans only having narrow control of the House and some of their members running for reelection next year in districts President Biden won, it's possible McCarthy would not have had the votes.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, is using her time to discuss the consequences of the looming government shutdown, which will go into effect this weekend unless House Republicans can work out a funding bill. Many of the GOP members holding up the process have also been very vocal in the Biden impeachment inquiry.
Republicans skipping over numerous steps in impeachment process
There is a notable difference in the way Republicans have pursued their impeachment process of President Biden, compared to how Democrats handled the issue in 2019, when they impeached former President Donald Trump. Here's the timeline for both. The Republicans have certainly skipped several of the steps that Democrats took before going to open hearings, including a full vote in the House.
• 9/24/19: Pelosi announces official inquiry
• Early October: House committees begin issuing subpoenas
• 10/8/19: Trump White House says it won’t cooperate
• Mid-October: House committees hold closed-door depositions
• 10/29/19: House holds full vote to hold open hearings
• 11/13/19: First open hearing in House Intelligence Committee
• 11/25/19: Final report issued
• 12/18/19: House votes to impeach Trump, 230-197
• 9/12/23: McCarthy announces official inquiry
• 9/28/23: House committee holds first open hearing
Greene speaks as she shows an exhibit during Thursday's hearing. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, displayed photos of Hunter Biden during the hearing after a back-and-forth with Democratic ranking member Jamie Raskin. In July, Greene showed nude photos of the president's son during a previous Oversight hearing.
The reviews are already in — and they're not good for the GOP
Rep. James Comer, Republican chairman of the impeachment inquiry, looks on during Thursday's hearing. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
It's not even over yet, but media outlets are already publishing their reviews of and takeaways from the House GOP's first formal impeachment hearing against President Biden. And they are not exactly glowing.
Here's a brief selection of the coverage:
"Republicans have been investigating Hunter Biden for years, since his father was vice president. While questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business, no evidence has emerged so far to prove that Joe Biden, in his current or previous office, abused his role or accepted bribes. But the hearing was not full of back-and-forth on questions about evidence because no one under oath was a witness to or directly involved in any of the allegations."
"House Republicans opened their impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden Thursday with accusations that his son’s overseas business activities amounted to influence-peddling while still digging for evidence the president was involved."
"House Republicans kicked off their first impeachment inquiry hearing Thursday laying out the allegations they will pursue against President Joe Biden, though their expert witnesses acknowledged Republicans don’t yet have the evidence to prove the accusation they’re leveling."
"Two of the three GOP witnesses who spoke at the first impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden said there’s not enough evidence so far showing he committed an impeachment-worthy offense. However, they said they still support the formal inquiry that Republicans say will allow them to uncover evidence linking the president to his son Hunter Biden’s foreign business work. Republicans have not found evidence of misconduct by the president but said their allegations are serious enough to warrant the probe."
"The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), used Republicans’ own words against them and sought to subpoena Rudy Giuliani in an effort to undercut the GOP’s impeachment inquiry into President Biden. In a lengthy opening statement replete with numerous props, including a countdown clock pointing to the pending government shutdown, Raskin cast the inquiry as being ignited by former President Trump while highlighting lingering doubts among a number of Republicans.
'If Republicans had a smoking gun or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it today,' Raskin said. 'They’ve got nothing on President Joe Biden.'”
The House hearing is back after a 10-minute recess that lasted 25.
Rep. Kweisi Mfume, a Democrat from Maryland, speaks after his motion to bring Rudy Giuliani before the committee was voted down. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)