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The first impeachment inquiry hearing into Biden was six hours. Here's what happened

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, talks to reporters as he leaves a House GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 19.
Kevin Dietsch
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Getty Images
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, talks to reporters as he leaves a House GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 19.

House Republicans are set to hold their first hearing for an impeachment inquiry for President Biden later this morning.

It's been an event nearly a year in the making.

Republicans promised they would try to impeach Biden as soon as they took over the House of Representatives last November. Now, their time has come.

Republicans have zeroed in on Biden's son, Hunter, and have attempted to make the case that the president benefited from his son's business dealings.

You can watch the hearing, slated to start at 10 a.m. ET, here:

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer said the hearing Thursday morning will "examine the value of an impeachment inquiry and present evidence House Republicans have uncovered to date regarding President Joe Biden's knowledge of and role in his family's domestic and international business practices."

It will involve testimony from four witnesses, three of whom picked by Republicans will weigh in on "crimes the Bidens may have committed," Rep. Comer of Kentucky said in a statement announcing the hearing.

"Based on the evidence, Congress has a duty to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden's corruption. Americans demand and deserve answers, transparency, and accountability for this abuse of public office," Comer said.

What's the evidence for impeachment?

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters about avoiding a government shutdown and launching an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
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AP
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters about avoiding a government shutdown and launching an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

In short: Not much.

Comer said that the House Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees "uncovered an overwhelming amount of evidence showing President Joe Biden abused his public office for his family's financial gain."

Among that evidence includes thousands of pages of financial records and other information. But little has been publicly presented in the way of concrete evidence for an impeachable offense by Biden.

The main allegation from House Republicans, and what's likely to be mentioned frequently at the hearing, is that when Biden was vice president he directly benefited from Hunter Biden's business deals in Ukraine and China.

There's been no clear smoking gun provided by Republicans related to any of their assertions about the Biden family.

Michael Gerhardt, a professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, previously told NPR: "This current attempt to conduct an impeachment inquiry is unlike any others I think we've had in American history, because in the past there's always been some credible evidence of wrongdoing by the president that is part of the complaint against the president. But in this situation, we don't have any credible evidence. And instead, this process seems to be what is sometimes called a fishing expedition."

Gerhardt was chosen by Democrats as their witness during the hearing.

What can we expect to hear from Republicans?

President Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance on July 26 in Wilmington, Del.
Julio Cortez / AP
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AP
President Biden's son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance on July 26 in Wilmington, Del.

A lot of the focus will, unsurprisingly, be on Hunter Biden.

Republicans are likely to repeatedly mention the ongoing criminal investigation into him and the testimony of two IRS whistleblowers, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler.

The two came forward publicly and have said that the Justice Department mishandled an investigation into the president's son. They took their complaints before the House Oversight Committee in July. Republicans have seized on this and claimed that these two agents show that pressure was placed on the DOJ to delay the investigation.

Hunter Biden has since pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to his taxes in July, after a deal with federal prosecutors fell through. A Justice Department special counsel indicted Hunter Biden on three felony charges for allegedly purchasing a gun while he was addicted to drugs in 2018.

Further, on Wednesday the House Ways and Means Committee voted in a closed-door session to release more than 700 pages of additional information that committee Republicans claim raises more questions about the Bidens.

This information is likely going to be brought up during the Oversight hearing.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith of Missouri said this information "makes clear Hunter Biden's business was selling the Biden 'brand' and that access to the White House was his family's most valuable asset – despite official claims otherwise."

How will Democrats respond?

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, told reporters Tuesday that his colleagues on the panel will focus on "facts and evidence."

He continued, "We've been working on this for seven months and there are no facts or evidence leading to any criminal culpability on the part of Joe Biden. So we'll see whether they have any actual new factual evidence that indicates any misconduct by President Biden."

As for Hunter Biden, he said: "Let the Department of Justice do its job, but let's not confuse Hunter Biden's problems that he experienced during his addiction — the way millions of families have experienced — with the behavior of Joe Biden who's been in public life for five or six decades and has no blemish there."

He also indicated he will likely emphasize at the hearing that Republicans are focusing on the Biden family rather than prioritizing from keeping the government from shutting down.

Who are the witnesses?

Former U.S Assistant Attorney General Tax Division Eileen O'Connor speaks during a press conference in 2006. She will testify at the House Oversight Committee hearing on Thursday.
Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Former U.S Assistant Attorney General Tax Division Eileen O'Connor speaks during a press conference in 2006. She will testify at the House Oversight Committee hearing on Thursday.

As described by Oversight Committee Republicans, the witnesses for the hearing include:

  • Bruce Dubinsky, the founder of Dubinsky Consulting, is a forensic accountant and "has served as an expert witness over 100 times and has testified in over 80 trials, including trials involving criminal and civil financial fraud," according to Oversight Republicans.

  • Eileen O'Connorwas the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Tax Division for six years during the administration of President George W. Bush. She was also amember of then-President-elect Trump's Treasury Department transition team, according to the Federalist Society. She is now an attorney in private practice. 
  • Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law School, "has published work in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory."

NPR's Claudia Grisales contributed to this story.

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