WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Republicans leading an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden detailed foreign payments to members of his family in their first hearing on Thursday, but did not provide evidence that the Democratic president had personally benefited.
The initial impeachment hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee served as a review of evidence that Republicans have gathered so far about foreign business ventures by Biden’s troubled son Hunter Biden, 53, which they say shows that Biden’s family members were selling access.
“The American people demand accountability for this culture of corruption,” House Oversight Committee chair James Comer said. He said Biden has lied about family members’ business dealings and had not walled them off from his official duties.
Democrats and several independent witnesses said there was no proof that Biden had received any of those payments, or otherwise engaged in improper behavior while he served as vice president between 2009 and 2017. The White House has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the probe as politically motivated.
Comer said the panel will continue to “follow the money and the evidence to provide accountability” to the American people.
The hearing comes as House Republicans face scattered reluctance from their own ranks to an impeachment inquiry and deep resistance in the Senate from Republicans who worry about political ramifications and say Biden’s conviction and removal from office is a near impossibility.
“If Republicans had a smoking gun or even a dripping water pistol they would be presenting it today. But they’ve got nothing,” said Jamie Raskin, the panel’s top Democrat.
Biden is campaigning for reelection in what will be a likely rematch with Republican Donald Trump, who is preparing for four upcoming criminal trials on a range of charges, from trying to overthrow his 2020 election defeat to mishandling classified documents are leaving office.