Speaker Johnson says he believes GOP has the votes for Biden impeachment inquiry

By Andrew Millman and Alexandra Ross, CNN

CNN  — 

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Saturday he believes Republicans have the votes to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

“I believe we will,” Johnson told Fox News of a GOP-led impeachment inquiry. “I suspect no Democrats will assist in this effort, but they should.”

Johnson added Republicans “have a duty to do this” and “we cannot stop the process.”

Republican leadership and key GOP committee chairs on Friday made the case for why they believe an inquiry vote is necessary, arguing it would strengthen their legal standing in court and accusing the White House of “stonewalling” their probe into the president and his son’s foreign business dealings – a claim the White House has forcefully rebutted.

Johnson, appearing alongside House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik, claimed the inquiry wouldn’t be used as a partisan political tool.

“Elise and I both served on the impeachment defense team of Donald Trump twice, when the Democrats used it for brazen partisan political purposes. We decried that use of it. This is very different,” Johnson said.

“Now we’re being stalled by the White House because they’re preventing at least two to three DOJ witnesses from coming forward” and withholding evidence from the National Archives, he continued. “A formal impeachment inquiry vote on the floor will allow us to take it to the next necessary step, and I think it’s something we have to do at this juncture.”

A spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, Ian Sams, told CNN in a statement Saturday, “This is a baseless, politically-motivated attempt to smear President Biden with lies, and it reflects how this chaotic House GOP is focused on the wrong priorities, when they should be working on real issues Americans actually care about like the President is.”

To this point, House Republicans have been pushing to formalize their impeachment inquiry into Biden but have not had the votes to do so.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called on his committees in September to open a formal impeachment inquiry into Biden amid increasing pressure from his right flank to move ahead, though it has remained clear that the conference is divided over whether the evidence exists to impeach the president.

In response to a question about Hunter Biden’s lawyers requesting an open hearing in place of a deposition, Stefanik called the request “unacceptable” and said “the only correct response to a subpoena is a deposition.”

“An open hearing is five minutes on the Democrat side, five minutes on the Republican side. It becomes a very public press opportunity,” Stefanik said. “We want to go about this from a legal and factual perspective and the only way to go about that is through a deposition.”

“It’s the precedent,” Johnson added. “Every investigation of Congress in the modern era, the deposition has come first, and the public testimony follows. Why would we break that precedent now?”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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