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FACT CHECK: McCarthy Unilaterally Launches Baseless Impeachment Inquiry Without a Floor Vote

Sep 12, 2023

This morning, Speaker McCarthy announced that he would direct the House Oversight Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee to begin a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden without holding a vote in the House. After eight months of Congressional investigations, 12,000 pages of documents reviewed, and every subpoena answered, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. A wide range of House Republicans from House Freedom Caucus Member Ken Buck to Biden 18 Members Mike Lawler and Don Bacon agree there is not enough evidence to move forward with impeachment. 

Speaker McCarthy attempted to justify the impeachment inquiry with six lies that have been repeatedly disproven and fact checked by independent fact checkers:  

LIE #1: Foreign Business Dealings

Claim: McCarthy claimed, “eyewitnesses have testified that the president joined on multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions, dinners, resulted in cars and millions of dollars into his son’s and his son’s business partners.”

The Facts: Archer did NOT testify that President Biden was directly involved in business discussions – only that he held casual conversations about “the weather” and “fishing.” Witness testimony referred to approximately 20 instances over the span of a decade in which Hunter indicated Joe Biden was merely present. 

As ABC reported: “Archer testified that Joe Biden’s interactions with Hunter Biden’s associates were ‘not related to commercial business,’ that Joe Biden had no involvement with Burisma, the Ukrainian oil conglomerate on whose board both Archer and Hunter Biden served; that the elder Biden never took any actions to benefit Burisma or Hunter Biden; and that Hunter Biden never asked his father to take any actions that would help his clients, according to the fully transcribed interview with the committee.” 

LIE #2: Receiving $20 Million From Our Adversaries

Claim: McCarthy alleged, “we know that bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates through various shell companies.”

The Facts: According to the Washington Post, “A close reading of the memos, however, finds that only about $7 million can be directly attributed to Biden family members, mostly Hunter, while the rest went to ‘associates,’ according to the memos. […] No money has been traced to Joe Biden.

With regards to the shell companies, fact-checkers further concluded: “that claim is undercut by the list of 21 companies that appear in the second staff memo. Virtually all of the companies (many of which now are defunct) had legitimate business interests. Others had clearly identified business investments. Digging through the records, we find only three whose business purpose remains vague; one (Rosemont Seneca Global Risk Services, LLC) may not even be related to Hunter Biden, according to an email found in Hunter Biden’s laptop. The memos do not list any payments that flowed through these three companies.”

LIE #3: Suspicious Activity Reports

Claim: According to McCarthy, “the Treasury Department alone has more than 150 transactions involving the Biden family and other business associates that were flagged as suspicious activity by U.S. banks.”

The Facts: Suspicious activity reports (SARs) alone do not indicate that a crime was committed. Washington Post fact-checkers debunked these claims as far back as October 2022, citing top financial analysts who described SARs as “well short of, ‘I think a crime has been committed,’” and merely “a tip” with a low threshold for filing just to be on the safe side: “‘Since banks are subject to enforcement action if they fail to file a SAR when they should have, but suffer no sanction if they file a useless SAR, the general presumption is to file the SAR,’ the group says.”

LIE #4: Bribery Allegations

Claim: McCarthy alleged, “even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family. Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company.” 

The Facts: Republicans have failed to produce evidence of bribery despite subpoenaing the FBI and risking the safety of confidential sources. As our new report found: 

“In early-May, Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) published an open letter to the FBI announcing subpoenas for an unclassified document supposedly describing an alleged ‘criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.’ Comer was immediately called out for pushing unsubstantiated allegations in the letter. The Associated Press noted, ‘the lawmakers used the word ‘alleged’ three times in the opening paragraph of the letter and offered no evidence of the veracity of the accusations.’ HuffPost reporters concurred: ‘[Republicans] acknowledged they don’t know if the allegation will pan out. […] backing the allegation despite the scarcity of details.’

When Comer and Grassley obtained the document, form FD-1023, and publicly released a redacted version in July – against the advice of intelligence officials who feared it would ‘unnecessarily risks the safety of a confidential source’ – it ended up being an uncorroborated FBI tip. Worse still, the owner of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, had already rebutted the uncorroborated bribery allegations back in 2019: ‘As part of the impeachment inquiry against then-President Trump, Congress learned that Mr. Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian oligarch and the owner of Burisma, whom Republican Committee Members appear to have identified as the source of the allegations memorialized in the Form FD-1023, squarely rebutted these allegations in 2019.’”

LIE #5: Coordination With Hunter Biden’s Business Partners 

Claim: McCarthy claimed that then-Vice President Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company.

The Facts: Contrary to claims that the Office of the Vice President colluded with Hunter Biden’s business partner on media responses, the key email touted by House Republicans included a statement explicitly stating that the Vice President “does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company.”

LIE #6: Special Treatment for President Biden’s Family

Claim: McCarthy claimed that “the president’s family has been offered special treatment by Biden’s own administration,” protecting Hunter Biden by appointing special counsel David Weiss.

The Facts: David Weiss was originally appointed to serve as US Attorney for Delaware by Donald Trump. Oversight Chair James Comer was vocal in his support for Weiss remaining US Attorney after the 2020 election. Republicans have claimed Weiss slow-walked the investigation to protect Hunter Biden, but his office’s investigation into Hunter Biden began in 2018, during the Trump administration, and any decisions about delays leading up to the 2020 election were made by Trump administration officials who were aligned with the widely reported priorities of Trump’s Attorney General at the time. After months of calling for David Weiss to be appointed Special Counsel, the very Republicans who were calling for it criticized the move once it was made.