Evidence uncovered by Republicans and others suggests misconduct by President Joe Biden's family but more evidence is required to support impeaching the president, GOP witnesses told the first impeachment inquiry hearing on Sept. 28.
"While I believe that an impeachment inquiry is warranted, I do not believe that the evidence currently meets the standard of a high crime and misdemeanor needed for an article of impeachment," Jonathan Turley, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School, testified.
Bruce Dubinsky, who has more than 40 years of experience as a certified public accountant and fraud investigator, said that there are serious questions about how the president's son, Hunter Biden, the president's brother, James Biden, and their associates received millions of dollars from foreigners.
"Why were members of the Biden family and close business associates receiving millions of dollars of payments from foreign entities and individuals? What services, if any, were being provided? What was the substance of the alleged services being provided? Was the money being paid a fair amount commensurate with those services? Were political favors being traded and disguised as services? These are the questions that, as a forensic accountant, I routinely am tasked to answer when I am hired to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption," Mr. Dubinsky testified.
"There is a great deal of evidence that has been collected to date by this committee and others, trying to answer these questions. However, much more information is still needed in order to be able to answer these questions and make a final determination as to whether or not the Biden family and its associates’ businesses were involved in any improper or illicit activities, and whether those activities, if any, were connected to President Joe Biden or then Vice President Biden," he added.
The House of Representatives Oversight Committee hearing kicked off the impeachment inquiry launched by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the oversight panel, is helping lead the inquiry.
In a memorandum to Republicans crafted in part by Mr. Comer and released ahead of the hearing, members noted that they've accumulated evidence that the Biden family and their associates received more than $24 million from 2014 to 2019. President Biden was vice president until early 2017.
The money was transmitted "through an exceedingly complex chain of transactions that made it difficult to track the flow of these funds," they said.
President Biden has claimed in the past that he had no knowledge of his son's business dealings, a claim countered by Mr. Biden, Mr. Biden's associate Devon Archer, and others. Mr. Archer recently said the claim was "patently false" while Tony Bobulinski, who also worked with Mr. Biden, has said he talked about business deals with President Biden.
That's part of a body of evidence that meets the threshold for an impeachment inquiry, according to Mr. Turley.
"The record currently contains witness and written evidence that the President (1) has lied about key facts in these foreign dealings, (2) was the focus of a multimillion-dollar influence-peddling scheme, and (3) may have benefitted from this corruption through millions of dollars sent to his family as well as more direct possible benefits. The president may be able to disprove or rebut these points, but they raise legitimate concerns over his role based on the accounts of key figures in the matter," he said.
Mr. Turley described the Biden family as running "a classic influence peddling operation," noting that Mr. Archer has said the president was "the brand." Mr. Archer said President Biden was placed on speakerphone by Mr. Biden while the latter was meeting with associates, though he said they did not speak specifically about business. Mr. Archer also testified that President Biden attended multiple dinners in Washington that included Mr. Biden's associates.
Emails from Mr. Biden's laptop computer and other materials, meanwhile, have shown that Mr. Biden repeatedly mentioned his father while working to secure payment from foreigners, including a message to a Chinese businessman that his father was sitting next to him. Mr. Biden also said in emails that he had to give some of the money he made to his father.
Michael Gerhardt, a jurisprudence professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was called as a witness by Democrats, disagreed with Mr. Turley and Mr. Dubinsky about the legitimacy of the inquiry.
Mr. Gerhardt described the inquiry as "a fishing expedition for misconduct [Republicans] have yet to ... prove."
"In every impeachment inquiry of a president beforehand, the House has identified some credible evidence of alleged wrongdoing committed by the targeted President," he testified.
Republicans said in the memo that the purpose of the inquiry "is to determine whether sufficient grounds exist for the Committees to draft articles of impeachment against President Biden for consideration by the full House."
The decision to start an inquiry does not mean that articles of impeachment will be introduced, they said.
Impeachment involves two steps. First, the House can vote on articles of impeachment, or charges. If approved, a trial is held by the Senate. Senators can vote to acquit or convict.
Republicans control the House but Democrats control the Senate.