The White House on Friday responded to a flurry of subpoenas sent out by House Republicans by arguing that the impeachment inquiry into President Biden is unconstitutional and amounts to “Congressional harassment” for political purposes.
“The subpoenas and interview requests purport to be in furtherance of what you have characterized as an ‘impeachment inquiry,’ even though no such inquiry has been authorized by the House of Representatives,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, wrote in a letter to House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
“Indeed, you appear so determined to impeach the President that you have misrepresented the facts, ignored the overwhelming evidence disproving your claims, and repeatedly shifted the rationale for your ‘inquiry,’” Sauber said.
The House GOP inquiry is based largely on the business dealings of Biden’s family — namely his son, Hunter Biden, and his brother, James Biden — and whether the president improperly benefited from them or aided them while he was vice president. Republicans are also probing the tax crimes prosecution of Hunter Biden, which whistleblowers from the IRS said was improperly slow-walked.
House Republicans sent numerous subpoenas in connection to those probes — including to Hunter Biden and James Biden, in addition to Biden administration officials.
The committees have been investigating Biden all year, but the stakes increased after ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unilaterally said in September that the various probes would be under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry, in hopes of putting more legal weight behind their requests.
But he authorized the probe without a House vote — despite previously signaling he would hold one.
“You also claim the mantle of an ‘impeachment inquiry’ knowing full well that the Constitution requires that the full House authorize an impeachment inquiry before a committee may utilize compulsory process pursuant to the impeachment power—a step the Republican House Majority has so far refused to take,” Sauber said in the letter to Jordan and Comer.
However, other legal experts disagree — and House Republicans are not the first to start an impeachment inquiry without holding a vote. House Democrats and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did the same in 2019 ahead of the first impeachment of then-President Trump, before eventually formalizing the inquiry with a vote on a House resolution.
Sauber in his letter referenced a White House Office of Legal Counsel opinion under Trump from 2020 that said a House resolution “is a constitutionally required step before a committee may exercise compulsory process in aid of the House’s ‘sole Power of Impeachment.’”
He also pointed to previous statements from new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) saying that starting the impeachment inquiry into Trump without a vote was “unprecedented and dangerous” — and referenced a recent report from The Washington Post that said Johnson had privately signaled there was not yet enough evidence to initiate formal impeachment proceedings against Biden.
But in a statement released this week, Johnson said the impeachment investigation by Comer and Jordan was moving “toward an inflection point” and that investigators have his ”full and unwavering support.”
Still, the White House made clear that it sees the impeachment inquiry as a method to advance partisan political concerns.
“Congressional harassment of the President to score political points is precisely the type of conduct that the Constitution and its separation of powers was meant to prevent,” Sauber said in the letter.
“For all these reasons, you should reconsider your current course of action and withdraw these subpoenas and demands for interviews. If you do in fact have legitimate requests for information within the White House pursuant to an appropriate oversight inquiry, please contact the undersigned so that the constitutionally approved processes can be implemented,” Sauber later said.
Comer appeared unmoved by the White House letter.
“If President Biden has nothing to hide, then he should make his current and former staff available to testify before Congress about his mishandling of classified documents,” Comer said in the statement. “Our investigation has unearthed new facts that contradict the White House’s and President Biden’s personal attorney’s narrative of the events. Additionally, we need to know if these classified materials aided the Bidens’ global influence peddling enterprise that brought in tens of millions for the Bidens and their associates. Our investigation reveals that Joe Biden lied repeatedly to the American people about his knowledge of, participation in, and benefit from his family’s shady business dealings around the world, including with adversaries like China.”
Comer then charged: “President Biden and this White House are seeking to obstruct our investigation at every turn. We are not deterred by this obstruction and will continue to follow the facts and hold President Biden accountable to the American people.”
The Judiciary Committee responded to the letter in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter..
“What’s this response tell you? The White House is TERRIFIED of what we’re uncovering with our impeachment inquiry. Won’t stop us from getting you the TRUTH,” it posted.
Updated at 4:19 p.m. ET