Johnson defends vote to formalize Biden impeachment inquiry amid White House ‘impasse’: ‘We have no choice’

House Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday defended a vote scheduled this week to formalize the impeachment inquiry into President Biden, arguing that unlike what Democrats did with the “sham impeachment” of former President Trump, Republicans are committed to the “rule of law.” 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram pressed Johnson on an expectation from the GOP base to bring an impeachment vote sometime in the spring ahead of the 2024 presidential election. 

Johnson explained that House Republicans have “come to this impasse” in their investigations into President Biden’s alleged involvement in his son, Hunter Biden’s business dealings, and are “hitting a stone wall because the White House is impeding that investigation” and not allowing witnesses to come forward and thousands of pages of documents. The vote on a resolution to formalize the House impeachment inquiry, which is currently set for Wednesday, is not the same as a vote to impeach.

“We have no choice to fulfill our constitutional responsibility. We have to take the next step. We’re not making a political decision. It’s not. It’s a legal decision,” Johnson said at the House Republican Conference press conference on Tuesday. “So people have feelings about it one way or the other. We can’t prejudge the outcome. The Constitution does not permit us to do so. We have to follow the truth where it takes us and that is exactly what we’re going to do.” 

HOUSE OVERSIGHT DEMOCRAT QUIETLY MEETING WITH GOP LAWMAKERS IN EFFORT TO QUASH IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY: SOURCES

House Speaker Mike Johnson at the House Republican Conference press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 12, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Noting some frustration about the time being invested in the impeachment probe, Johnson argued, “this is the way the founders anticipated that something like this would go.”

“There shouldn’t be any such thing as a snap impeachment, a sham impeachment like the Democrats did against President Trump. This is the opposite of that,” Johnson said. “And that’s why people are getting restless, because they want things to happen quickly. If you follow the Constitution and you do the right thing, you cannot rush it. You have to follow the facts.” 

Biden at White House

President Biden, right, denies involvement in Hunter Biden’s business dealings. (JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Piggybacking off Pergram’s question about pressure for Johnson to bring the impeachment vote while Republicans hold a slim majority, another reporter asked Johnson, “If you get into the spring and decide not to impeach the president based on the inquiry, you would be comfortable with that decision essentially absolving him months before a presidential election?” 

“We’re not going to prejudge the outcome of this,” Johnson responded. “We can’t because, again, it’s not a political calculation. We’re following the law, and we are the rule of law team. And I’m going to hold to that as my commitment.” 

CONGRESS AIMS TO HOLD VOTE TO INITIATE BIDEN IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

Hunter Biden at Delaware court

Hunter Biden exits federal court in Delaware on July 26, 2023. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Wednesday’s vote will allow the House Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means committees to continue their investigations into the Biden family business dealings, House Majority Whip Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., explained, stating that the “Biden administration has been stonewalling our investigations.”

The Justice Department has refused to allow two attorneys to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Emmer said at the press conference. The White House sent House Oversight and Accountability Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., and House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a letter stating, “they have no intention of complying with our subpoenas and requests for interviews without a formal vote,” according to Emmer, who also stressed how the National Archives has “withheld thousands of pages of documents and emails.”

Johnson at House GOP presser

House Speaker Mike Johnson addressed the Biden impeachment inquiry at a press conference on Dec.12, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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“It’s clear the House will have to defend our lawful investigations in court, and passing this resolution will put us in the best position possible to enforce our subpoenas and set forth a clear process,” Emmer said. “As we have said numerous times before, voting in favor of an impeachment inquiry does not equal impeachment. We will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead. And if they uncovered evidence of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors, then and only then will the next steps towards impeachment proceedings be considered. No one in this country is above the law, and that includes President Joe Biden.” 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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