Top House Republicans are eyeing potential impeachment charges of bribery and abuse of power against President Biden, according to senior House officials familiar with their plans, as they push forward with an inquiry that seeks to tie him to his son’s foreign business dealings.
Building up to the inquiry’s first hearing scheduled for Thursday, Republicans released records of wire transfers from a Chinese businessman to Hunter Biden in 2019 that listed his father’s address. A powerful panel voted Wednesday to release 700 more pages from the confidential tax investigation into the younger Biden, as the lawmakers grasp for evidence to fuel their impeachment case, which has yet to yield proof of either potential charge.
The vote came a day before Republicans on the House Oversight Committee were to meet to lay out that case publicly in the first impeachment hearing since Speaker Kevin McCarthy, under pressure from his right flank, announced the inquiry. They plan to present information they have found thus far about Hunter Biden’s international business deals.
Yet the G.O.P. has struggled so far to link any of that activity to the president or get anywhere close to revealing proof of high crimes and misdemeanors. Despite their review of more than 12,000 pages of Hunter Biden’s bank records and 2,000 pages of suspicious activity reports, none of the material released so far shows any payment to his father.
Leaders of the three panels carrying out the inquiry — the Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means Committees — hope to accumulate evidence that the elder Biden abused his office, accepted bribes or both, according to the officials familiar with it, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details.
The officials emphasized that the inquiry might never result in impeachment charges if the evidence they compile does not support such charges — or any other. And Republicans are privately cognizant that they currently lack enough support within their ranks to push charges through the House, and that any charges would be dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
For Thursday’s hearing, Republicans have booked a trio of conservative legal analysts to opine about the Bidens and the law, but who are not in a position to present new facts in the case.
The Oversight panel is considered the lead committee, according to the officials, and will investigate any allegations of corruption against the president and his family. The Judiciary Committee will focus on the Justice Department, while Ways and Means will handle any sensitive tax information pertinent to the inquiry.
Democrats have criticized Republicans for moving forward with an impeachment inquiry in the absence of any incriminating evidence against the president.
“Haven’t we already been doing this for the last nine months?” asked Representative Jared Moskowitz, Democrat of Florida and a member of the Oversight Committee, in an interview. “They don’t have anything on Joe Biden.”
With divisions among House Republicans threatening to lead to a government shutdown this weekend, Mr. McCarthy has explicitly tried to leverage his impeachment inquiry to persuade hard-right lawmakers to keep the government open. Thursday’s hearing is — at least in part — an attempt to make the case to right-wing lawmakers and voters that Republican-led committees are making progress in their investigation of Mr. Biden, the chief political rival of former President Donald J. Trump.
“It’s hard to grasp the complete derangement of this moment,” said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland and the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee. “Three days before they’re set to shut down the United States government, Republicans launch a baseless impeachment drive against President Biden. No one can figure out the logic of either course of action.”
Republicans are plowing ahead anyway. The inquiry is expected to stretch on for weeks, and Republicans believe it is beneficial to them politically to keep it active and grabbing news headlines to serve as a counterweight to the four criminal cases against Mr. Trump and the 91 felony counts he faces.
Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the Oversight Committee, said in an interview that his staff would continue to work on the impeachment inquiry even during a government shutdown when many nonessential workers face furloughs.
“We’ve got five staffers working on this, and they’re very passionate about it,” he said.
On Tuesday, he said his committee had obtained two bank wires totaling $260,000 that demonstrate that Hunter Biden received money from Chinese nationals in which his address was listed as the Wilmington, Del., home of his father.
At a news conference, Mr. McCarthy said the records showed that Mr. Biden “lied” when he claimed his family had not received money from China.
Hunter Biden’s legal team said there was nothing nefarious in the transaction. The payment described by Mr. Comer was a loan from a business partner, and Hunter Biden listed his father’s address because that was his primary residence at the time, his lawyer said.
“We expect more occasions where the Republican chairs twist the truth to mislead people to promote their fantasy political agenda,” said Abbe Lowell, the younger Biden’s lawyer.
Democrats have been planning a counteroffensive to the inquiry. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, met privately with Democratic lawmakers who led the two impeachments of Mr. Trump to discuss their strategy of how to defend Mr. Biden. One point of debate at the meeting: whether Democrats should attempt to defend Hunter Biden’s conduct or essentially cast him aside and make the case that while the son may have engaged in wrongdoing, his father had nothing to do with it.
The Justice Department has investigated Hunter Biden’s taxes and international business dealings for five years and indicted him on felony gun charges stemming from his purchase of a firearm while being a drug user.
Republicans have been investigating the unproven allegations against Mr. Biden with little success for years. Functionally, the House inquiry gives them no new investigative powers. But, they argue, it strengthens their argument in case the Bidens should fight them in court. Mr. Comer said he plans to issue subpoenas for the personal bank records of Hunter Biden, the president’s brother James Biden, and, eventually, the president himself.