McCarthy, in escalation, floats Biden impeachment inquiry
McCarthy had previously pumped the breaks on impeaching the president.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has begun floating the possibility of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, a sudden escalation as Republicans ramp up allegations of wrongdoing by the president and his family.
During an appearance on Fox News Monday night, McCarthy leaned on testimony from two Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers and an FBI document containing unverified allegations of corruption to suggest that Biden has used his career in government to enrich and protect his family -- a claim for which Republicans have provided no definitive evidence and the White House vociferously denies.
"When President Biden was running for office, he told the American public that he's never talked about business, he said his family has never received a dollar from China, which we now proved is not true. We now have some of the most credible whistleblowers, these 10-year IRS agents who have come forward, said the Biden family has been treated differently," McCarthy told Fox News host Sean Hannity.
"We've only followed where the information has taken us. But Hannity, this is rising to the level of impeachment inquiry, which provides Congress the strongest power to get the rest of the knowledge and information needed. Because this president has also used something we have not seen since Richard Nixon, used the weaponization of government to benefit his family and deny Congress the ability to have the oversight."
The White House fired back Monday night, accusing congressional Republicans of elevating partisan probes over important policy debates.
"Instead of focusing on the real issues Americans want us to address like continuing to lower inflation or create jobs, this is what the @HouseGOP wants to prioritize," tweeted White House spokesperson Ian Sams. "Their eagerness to go after @POTUS regardless of the truth is seemingly bottomless."
When pressed on his remarks by reporters Tuesday, McCarthy doubled down.
"When more of this continues to unravel, it rises to the level of impeachment inquiry, where you would have the Congress to have the power to get to all these answers," he said.
McCarthy's comments mark a crescendo of a drumbeat of Republican scrutiny into the White House.
The escalation comes shortly after Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., published the FBI document that included unverified allegations of corruption surrounding the work of Biden's son Hunter Biden in Ukraine for energy company Burisma.
Republicans have also accused Biden of working with Hunter in his business dealings, despite repeated White House rebuttals.
Congressional Republicans are also launching ceaseless allegations that Democrats are "weaponizing" the government by launching investigations into former President Donald Trump over his handling of classified information after leaving office and efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
Jack Smith is leading those probes as special counsel, a position designed to maximize his independence from the Justice Department.
Still, McCarthy's comments are easily the furthest he's gone after Biden.
The speaker has been the focus of a pressure campaign from lawmakers such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who have been seeking Biden's ouster since he took office. However, until Monday, McCarthy was urging his right-flank to hold off.
"I don't know that we need any more now that we've had them referred already. We're already having investigations," McCarthy said last month.
The speaker has so far sated his conference by voicing support for possible impeachment inquiries into other administration figures, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, though his comments Monday indicated another concession to the firebrands could be coming.
"I believe we will follow this all the way to the end, and this is going to rise to an impeachment inquiry the way the constitution tells us to do this, and we have to get the answers to these questions," he told Hannity.
While an impeachment effort would mark a win for some of the House's hardliners, it would likely face opposition from GOP moderates -- especially the 18 Republicans who represent districts Biden won in 2020 and are up for reelection last year.
"Impeachment shouldn't be something that is frivolous and treated in that way," Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., one of those 18 Republicans, told reporters last month as GOP lawmakers discussed a privileged resolution to impeach Biden.
ABC News' Arthur Jones II and Lauren Peller contributed to this report.