Republicans, seizing on Biden's son Hunter's controversial international dealings, have yet to provide evidence of corruption on the part of the president, and the Democratic-led Senate is unlikely to convict him even if the inquiry leads to a true impeachment trial .

Regardless, the procedure gives Republicans a new, high-profile platform to attack Biden as he campaigns for re-election — and to divert attention from the federal criminal trials facing his almost certain opponent, Donald Trump.

The 221-212 vote followed strict party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats against.

Conservatives accuse Biden's troubled son, Hunter, of influence peddling — effectively trading on the family name in pay-to-play schemes during his business dealings in Ukraine and China.

The charges against Hunter Biden relate to incidents that occurred before his father became president, and the White House has emphasized that there was no wrongdoing.

Biden himself responded immediately after the vote, accusing Republicans of stalling on important fronts — like government funding — while obsessed with scoring political points ahead of the election.

“Instead of doing anything to help improve the lives of Americans, they are focused on attacking me with lies,” Biden said in a statement.

“Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time on this baseless political maneuver that even Republicans in Congress admit is not supported by facts.”

Republicans insist the work has merit.

“While President Biden continues to obstruct lawful subpoenas from Congress, today’s vote by the full House of Representatives authorizing the inquiry puts us in the strongest position to enforce these subpoenas in court,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson, and other members of the Republican leadership.

“The American people deserve answers,” they said in a joint statement. “This impeachment inquiry will help us find them.”

– 'Zero evidence' –

Hunter Biden, whose chaotic personal life and business dealings have become a magnet for right-wing conspiracy theories and media investigations, issued an angry statement in Washington.

“My father was not financially involved in my business,” he said.

Yale-educated lawyer and lobbyist-turned-artist whose life was marked by personal tragedies, alcoholism and crack addiction, Hunter Biden was speaking to reporters from Capitol Hill, after refusing to attend a closed-door hearing led by Republicans just there. inside. .

Egged on by Trump – who was impeached twice, including for his attempts to overturn the results of his 2020 election loss to Biden – the Republican Party began investigating a possible impeachment of Biden earlier this year. Hearings began in late September, leading to the decision to hold Wednesday's vote.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer charged Wednesday that investigations so far have “revealed how Joe Biden knew about, participated in and benefited from his family profiting from the Biden name around the world.”

Experts interviewed during the process, however, said there was no evidence to justify Biden's impeachment.

And Democrats say Republicans are playing pure politics.

“There is no evidence that President Biden has engaged in any wrongdoing,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Tuesday.

The U.S. Constitution provides that Congress can remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Impeachment by the House, which is the political equivalent of a criminal indictment, would trigger a Senate trial, with the president losing office if convicted — an unlikely scenario for Biden, given Democratic control of the House.

Although three US presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Trump in 2019 and 2021 – none have ever been removed from office by the Senate.