The primary listening to in Home Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Biden featured their star witnesses testifying that they lacked proof that he dedicated impeachable offenses, a number of procedural skirmishes the G.O.P. majority practically misplaced and, at instances, practically a dozen empty Republican seats.
What it didn’t embody was any new details about Mr. Biden’s conduct — or any help for Republicans’ accusations that he had entered into corrupt abroad enterprise offers.
“If the Republicans had a smoking gun or perhaps a dripping water pistol, they’d be presenting it right this moment,” mentioned Consultant Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the highest Democrat on the Oversight Committee. “However they’ve received nothing on Joe Biden.”
Prime Home Republicans are eyeing potential impeachment expenses of bribery and abuse of energy towards Mr. Biden, and so they have launched greater than 700 pages from the confidential tax investigation into his son Hunter Biden. However the G.O.P. has struggled up to now to hyperlink Hunter Biden’s enterprise exercise to his father. Regardless of their overview of greater than 12,000 pages of financial institution data and a couple of,000 pages of suspicious exercise stories, not one of the materials launched up to now exhibits any fee to the president.
Even some witnesses Home Republicans handpicked to testify on Thursday conceded that lawmakers had not collected the proof wanted to warrant an impeachment cost.
“I’m not right here right this moment to even recommend that there was corruption, fraud or any wrongdoing,” mentioned Bruce G. Dubinsky, a forensic accountant. “In my view, extra info must be gathered and assessed earlier than I’d make such an evaluation.”
Likewise, Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington College’s legislation college, advised the panel that whereas he thought of an inquiry warranted, “I don’t imagine that the present proof would help articles of impeachment. That’s one thing that an inquiry has to determine.”
The witnesses’ tone stood in stark distinction to that set by the committee’s Republicans, who for months have leveled accusations towards what they known as the “Biden crime household.”
In his opening assertion, Consultant James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the Oversight Committee, promised to convey ahead greater than two dozen items of proof that will reveal “Joe Biden’s corruption and abuse of public workplace.”
Consultant Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, accused Mr. Biden of partaking in “pay-to-play schemes” and “shady international enterprise offers.”
In a video selling the listening to, Consultant Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, known as Mr. Biden “probably the most corrupt president within the historical past of the US.”
However even because the listening to was underway, some Republicans privately fretted that Mr. Comer didn’t seem in command of the proceedings and had undercut his personal narrative by calling witnesses who didn’t totally help it. Talking on the situation of anonymity to keep away from publicly criticizing colleagues, one senior Home Republican aide known as the session disastrous.
As an alternative of a deep dive into alleged wrongdoing by a president, the hourslong listening to largely devolved right into a partisan brawl.
Shortly after the session was gaveled in, Democrats moved to disrupt the Republican narrative.
Mr. Raskin and Consultant Kweisi Mfume, additionally a Maryland Democrat, tried to pressure the committee to situation subpoenas to Rudolph W. Giuliani, former President Donald J. Trump’s private lawyer, and his affiliate Lev Parnas.
Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Parnas tried to research Hunter Biden’s abroad enterprise dealings for years with out success. Mr. Parnas has now renounced the trouble, writing to the committee, “There has by no means been any factual proof, solely conspiracy theories.”
However Republicans voted to dam the subpoenas — although not earlier than practically dropping the vote as a result of there have been initially not sufficient of them current within the listening to room to defeat it.
At one level, Mr. Mfume held up an indication that mentioned, “The place is Rudy?”
The listening to occurred on an awfully busy day in Congress as inner dysfunction amongst Home Republicans threatened to trigger a authorities shutdown by the weekend. Consultant Raja Krishnamoorthi had a countdown clock subsequent to him throughout his questioning exhibiting the time ticking down earlier than the midnight Saturday deadline to maintain funding flowing.
Democrats additionally engaged in some mocking of the investigation.
Senator John Fetterman, Democrat of Pennsylvania, had his employees drop off a case of Bud Mild for the Republicans, sarcastically congratulating them “as they embark on their historic impeachment journey.”
And the White Home blasted out emails each hour arguing that Republicans had been making an attempt to distract the general public as Congress lurches towards a authorities shutdown.
“The implications for the American folks will probably be very damaging — from misplaced jobs, to troops working with out pay, to jeopardizing essential efforts to struggle fentanyl, ship catastrophe aid, present meals help and extra,” a White Home spokeswoman, Sharon Yang, wrote. “Nothing can distract from that.”