Speaker Johnson Announces House Will Take Impeachment Inquiry Authorization Vote, Seek To Have Hunter Biden Held in Contempt of Congress and Imprisoned If He Won’t Comply

The House has so far failed to authorize the inquiry because of reservations from moderate GOP members.

AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Speaker Johnson at the Capitol, November 14, 2023. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Speaker Johnson has announced that the House will soon vote on an impeachment inquiry authorization as Republicans pave the way to have Hunter Biden held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify behind closed doors before the Oversight Committee. GOP lawmakers hope that the real threat of jail time will induce the president’s son to comply with their subpoena, and similarly force the White House to cooperate. 

“We have come to this sort of inflection point, because the White House now is stonewalling that investigation,” the speaker said at a Tuesday press conference. “They are refusing to turn over key witnesses to allow them to testify as they’ve been subpoenaed, they’re refusing to turn over thousands of documents from the National Archives, and the House has no choice … [but] to formally adopt an impeachment inquiry on the floor so that when the subpoenas are challenged in court, we will be at the apex of our legal authority.”

“This vote is not a vote to impeach President Biden, this is a vote to continue the inquiry of impeachment and that’s a necessary constitutional step,” he continued. When asked about wavering moderates, the speaker said that those members “understand this is not a political decision, this is a legal decision, it is a constitutional decision. Whether someone is for or against impeachment is of no import right now. We have to continue our legal responsibility.”

The impeachment inquiry has accelerated in recent days, after the House Oversight Committee chairman, James Comer, sent subpoenas to Hunter Biden, his uncle James, and some business associates of the two men. The first son recently announced through his lawyer that he would not sit for a closed-door, hours-long deposition as Republicans demanded, and would only appear before a public hearing. 

Mr. Comer replied that Mr. Biden fils is not entitled to “special treatment” and must comply with the summons to the closed-door hearing. A congressional authorization of the impeachment inquiry could give it more weight with the courts when Mr. Comer, as he is expected to do, seeks to have Mr. Biden held in contempt of Congress.

President Trump’s sometime adviser, Steve Bannon, was held in contempt of Congress for initially refusing to appear before the January 6 committee. He was sentenced to four months in prison and fined $6,500. Mr. Biden is also facing potential prison time, having been charged with three felonies by Special Counsel David Weiss for lying about his drug use to buy a gun.

The House Republicans’ inquiry has honed in on the money Mr. Biden made overseas and how he dispersed it to members of his family, including his father. “This impeachment inquiry … continues to provide the American people with the answers they both demand and deserve,” the House Republican conference chairwoman, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, said recently at a press conference. “They have found over $10 million from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania funneled through the corrupt influence-peddling schemes to line the pockets of the Biden crime family.” 

Mr. Comer, said recently that moderate GOP House members who were not on board with an impeachment inquiry authorization have now heard from their constituents about these payments and are coming around. 

“There are about 15 or 20 moderates that … really worry about what CNN says or the Washington Post writes,” he said of those who have privately pushed back against a former inquiry authorization. “A great thing happened during Thanksgiving: the members went home. … They met people in Walmart and people on Main Street and they’re like, ‘What in the world have the Bidens done to receive millions and millions of dollars from our enemies around the world, and did they not pay taxes on it?’”

“They heard from their constituents: ‘Yes, we want you to move forward. We want to know the truth and we expect the Bidens to be held accountable for public corruption,’” he continued. “We are unified at a time when it’s no secret our conference is broken in a lot of ways. The members have heard from their constituents back home.”


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