Ophélie Artaud, with AFP 15:21 p.m., September 14, 2023

The president of the United States has been targeted since Tuesday by an impeachment inquiry. Republicans accuse Joe Biden of having "lied" to the American people about his involvement in the business of his son, Hunter Biden, abroad. Europe 1 explains everything you need to know about this case, which comes one year before the 2024 US presidential elections.

"The president has done nothing wrong." This is what White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said after the announcement of the impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden. Quickly, the President of the United States himself reacted: "I get up every day (...) without focusing on impeachment. I have a job to do. I have to deal with the issues that affect the American people every day," he said. Why has this investigation been launched and, above all, does it have a chance of success? Europe 1 explains everything you need to know about this case.

Why is this procedure initiated?

First, it was Republican opponents in Congress who led this impeachment inquiry. On Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy "asked a House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry." The American right accuses Joe Biden of having "lied" to the American people about his involvement in the affairs of his son, Hunter Biden, abroad.

Republicans accuse Hunter Biden of involvement in corruption cases in Ukraine and China: according to them, the second son of the US president would have received $ 20 million from shell companies in both countries. According to the accusations, the entire Biden family, including Joe Biden, would have benefited. Also, according to Republicans, Hunter Biden would have capitalized on the network and the name of his father, who was at that time vice president of Barack Obama (2009-2017).

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If the impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden is opened for this case, Hunter Biden has other trouble with the law. The 53-year-old businessman is accused of tax fraud - he allegedly failed to file his tax returns in 2017 and 2018 on income totaling $ 1.5 million - and illegal possession of a firearm, while he was a drug addict. A case for which he should be charged by the end of September.

Is Joe Biden at risk of impeachment?

This impeachment inquiry is unlikely to succeed. First, because the Democrats are in the majority in the Senate, and therefore logically will not vote for the impeachment of Joe Biden. Also, because there is currently no evidence against Joe Biden. Contrary to what Republicans claim, there is no evidence that he received money directly from Ukrainian and Chinese companies, as CNN explains. Investigations by investigators into bank statements have failed to establish a link between the president of the United States and the corruption case involving Hunter Biden.

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From the point of view of the Democrats, this case would above all aim to deteriorate the image of Joe Biden, one year before the presidential elections of 2024. According to Joe Biden's camp, it would also be a question of forgetting the legal troubles of Donald Trump, indicted four times in recent months and favorite of the Republican primaries. "There is no evidence in this case, just an order issued by Trump to impeach" his political rival, denounced the Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

But by the way, how does impeachment proceedings work?

Specifically, the US Constitution provides that Congress can impeach a president in case of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors". The procedure takes place in three stages: first, the investigation phase, usually conducted by the House Judiciary Committee. Then, impeachment must be voted by the House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, by a majority. If all the conditions are retained, a trial is finally held before the Senate, the upper house of Congress. For the president to be convicted, two-thirds of senators must vote for impeachment. Otherwise, the Head of State is acquitted.

No president has ever been impeached in the history of the United States. Several heads of state have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Donald Trump in 2019 and 2021, but all were eventually acquitted. Only Richard Nixon preferred to resign in 1974 to avoid certain impeachment by Congress because of the Watergate scandal.