Knowing history was on their side, Republicans in the House spent months vowing to turn their grievances about the Biden administration into investigations if they regained control of the chamber.
What You Need To Know
- Knowing history was on their side, Republicans in the House spent months vowing to turn their grievances about the Biden administration into investigations if they regained control of the chamber
- Conservatives, freshly equipped with subpoena power, can soon deliver on those promises after securing a narrow majority in the House
- The investigations are likely to focus on Hunter Biden's business dealings, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origin of COVID-19, the alleged politicization of the Justice Department and the southern border
- Some Republicans have signaled that they’re hoping their probes will lead to impeachments — namely of President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Although the GOP’s showing in last week's midterm elections fell short of their own expectations, conservatives, freshly equipped with subpoena power, can soon deliver on those promises after securing a narrow majority in the House.
“Oversight is a primary function of the Congress, and for the last few years, there has been no oversight of the Biden agenda and the Biden administration,” Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., told Fox News on Sunday.
Some Republicans have signaled that they hope their probes will lead to impeachments — namely of President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. While in the minority the past two years, House Republicans introduced 14 impeachment resolutions, more than three times the number Democrats did in the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency.
However, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the favorite to become the next House speaker, has tried to tamp down on such talk. He has said impeachment should not be used as a political weapon, although he’s left the door open for it “if anyone ever rises to that occasion.”
Here is a look at some investigations, GOP lawmakers have vowed to launch.
Hunter Biden’s business dealings
Asked by ABC News last week what the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s first hearing would address is if he’s elevated to chairman, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said it could potentially be about the foreign business dealings of Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
Republicans have spent the past three years accusing the younger Biden of profiting from his father’s roles as a U.S. senator and vice president.
Comer said the Oversight Committee likely would subpoena Hunter Biden and demand the Treasury Department turn over any suspicious bank records linked to the president’s son. Comer unsuccessfully sought the documents previously but believes the Treasury Department won’t be able to reject his request now that Republicans are in the majority.
Comer told CBS News last week he believes Hunter Biden’s overseas business affairs may have “compromised this White House” and “therefore, it’s a national security concern.”
"What Joe Biden said is, ‘Our son is innocent,’” Comer said. “If I were Hunter Biden, I'd want to come clear my name and make some Republicans look bad. So we're going to ask Hunter Biden to come before the committee. If he refuses, then I suspect that he would receive a subpoena.”
Republicans also will likely examine whether there were any direct links between Hunter Biden's work and his father.
Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation over potential tax violations related to his overseas work and allegedly making a false statement during a gun purchase. He has not been charged with any crimes.
Hunter Biden has insisted his business pursuits in China and Ukraine were legal, although he has acknowledged his career likely benefited from his family ties.
A Republican-led Senate investigation in 2020 found no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden involving the younger Biden’s work with Burisma Holdings, a private natural gas company in Ukraine whose board Hunter Biden served on. But the panel did conclude that Hunter “cashed in” on his name to close lucrative business deals and that Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma gave the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is poised to become the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has suggested the panel will investigate alleged political interference by the FBI and Justice Department in the Hunter Biden probe.
In an August op-ed for FoxNews.com, McCarthy, Rep. Michael McCaul and other Republicans said the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan one year earlier warrants greater scrutiny in a GOP-led House.
The op-ed coincided with an report issued by House Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee, which McCaul is likely to chair starting next year. The report accused the Biden administration of making decisions based on politics and lacking a solid exit strategy.
In August 2021, 13 service members were killed by a suicide bomber outside the Kabul airport, as they worked to evacuate Americans and Afghans from the country, which the Taliban had reclaimed.
“These strategic failures are too grave to ignore,” the Republicans wrote in the op-ed. “That is why House Republicans are committed to pursuing answers to Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.
“[T]he report raises more key questions that require additional investigation, such as how decisions were made in the White House regarding the withdrawal timeline, the decision to pull out troops before civilians and diplomats, the absence of adequate plans for evacuating Americans and our Afghan allies who served alongside the U.S. military, the decision to abandon Bagram Air Base, the loss of Kabul, and this administration’s dealings with the Taliban,” they added.
Biden called the evacuation from Kabul an “extraordinary success,” arguing that if the U.S. had remained there longer, it would have resulted in another escalation of war.
COVID-19 origins and policies
McCarthy told Fox News last month that if Republicans took control of the House they would set up a committee to investigate how COVID-19 spread from China.
House Republicans will likely grill Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to both Biden and Trump during the pandemic, and they could also dig into federal guidance on masking, vaccine mandates and school closures.
Senate Republicans last month released a report that said “it appears reasonable to conclude” that COVID-19 escaped from a lab.
While the origin of COVID-19 has been debated for nearly three years, an expert panel concluded in a paper published in October in the journal Science, that “the evidence towards zoonosis” — the virus jumping from an animal to humans — “is overwhelming.”
The World Health Organization has concluded that a lab origin for COVID-19 is “extremely unlikely,” while the U.S. intelligence community, which was ordered by Biden to more closely examine the question, was unable to reach a consensus.
Fauci is retiring next month but has said he will testify if called upon.
“My records are an open book,” he told CNN in July. “They are talking about things that are really bizarre … like crimes against democracy by shutting down the government. All I have ever done — and go back and look at everything I've ever done — was to recommend common sense, good, CDC-recommended public health policies that have saved millions of lives. If you want to investigate for me for that, go ahead.”
Within hours of FBI agents searching Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in search of government documents in August, McCarthy released a statement directed at Garland threatening to investigate the Justice Department.
“The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” McCarthy said then.
“Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear you calendar,” the Republican House leader added.
Garland, who signed off on the Mar-a-Lago warrant, defended the actions of the DOJ and FBI a few days after the search, saying in a news conference: "Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing."
President Biden has said he had no knowledge of or input into the decision to search Trump’s home.
Trump has argued the investigation is politically motivated, that he declassified documents the government says are classified and that he had the authority to declare the documents his personal possessions.
Some House Republicans contend the Justice Department has a double standard when it comes to Republicans, pointing to the Hillary Clinton email scandal and the protracted Hunter Biden investigation.
Also of interest to Republicans is a DOJ memo issued last year saying it would launch a series of efforts to address a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” aimed at school administrations, board members, teachers and staff. Republicans accused Garland of trying to suppress conservative critics of schools.
Jordan has asked the Justice Department to preserve its documents surrounding the memo.
Mayorkas and the southern border
Republicans’ have spent the past two years railing about the soaring number of encounters between law enforcement and migrants at the southern border.
In addition to blaming Biden for what they see as lax border policies, they also have repeatedly ripped Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary, whom they argue has been derelict in his duties.
Jordan told CNN last month that Mayorkas deserves to be impeached “because we no longer have a border.” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has said impeaching Mayoraks should be a “priority.” At a House Judiciary Committee in April, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., told Mayorkas many of his constituents want to see the DHS secretary impeached, adding, “They believe you committed treason.”
“We will give Secretary Mayorkas a reserved parking spot, he will be testifying so much about this,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said in September.
Mayorkas has insisted the U.S. turns back migrants who don’t claim to have a legal right to be in the country and follows laws passed by Congress regarding asylum seekers. He also has repeatedly blamed Trump administration policies for decimating the legal immigration system.
The Republicans’ inquiry into border issues is likely to include deaths of migrants at the border; the smuggling of illegal drugs, including fentanyl, into the U.S.; and the discontinuation of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers."