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Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., left, and Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis.

What to know before the first impeachment inquiry hearing

The House impeachment inquiry’s first hearing is upon us. The House Oversight Committee is kicking off its made-for-TV presentation of what Republicans claim is evidence linking President Joe Biden to overseas business deals conducted by his son, Hunter Biden.

It’s a tough backdrop for the first hearing, though. Democrats are bashing the GOP for holding the hearing just days before a likely government shutdown. A number of House Republicans, led by the vocal Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), are speaking out against the probe.

And crucially, there’s still no concrete connection to wrongdoing on the part of Joe Biden.

Here’s what to watch.

The Republican argument: In a sign of the inquiry’s three-committee approach, Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) is splitting up his 10-minute opening statement with Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.), who is being waived onto the panel today.

“President Biden has lied to the American people about his knowledge of and participation in his family’s corrupt business schemes,” Comer will say in his opening statement.

Each GOP member will use their question time to focus on a specific piece of evidence. There will be a focus on bank records Comer has subpoenaed, testimony from former Hunter Biden associate Devon Archer and the disclosures Wednesday from the Ways and Means panel.

Expect Republicans to also cite wire transfers that showed Hunter Biden directly received money from a Chinese businessman in 2019. It’s a rare example of a direct transfer of funds from a foreign source to the president’s son. Hunter Biden used the elder Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home as the beneficiary address for the transaction.

Check out this Republican memo summarizing what the investigatory committees see as the legal basis of the impeachment inquiry.

The Democratic pushback: Democrats will seek to present GOP claims as debunked conspiracy theories and portray the hearing as a distraction from the looming shutdown and former President Donald Trump’s alleged criminal misdeeds.

Their argument: Biden hasn’t done anything wrong and the Comer-led probe is just lots of partisan noise.

“It’s hard to grasp the complete derangement of this moment,” ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said in a statement. “Why impeach a president who has committed no high crimes and misdemeanors, no low crimes and misdemeanors, and no crimes at all?”

We got our hands on a new memo from Democratic Oversight and Judiciary staff that takes aim at “Republicans’ false claim that President Biden interfered in the investigation and prosecution of his son, Hunter Biden.”

“Routine procedures and typical challenges—not political interference–drove the investigative decision-making,” the memo argues.

— Max Cohen

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.