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McCarthy Unites Fractious GOP With Impeachment Talk

Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) flirtation with impeaching President Biden is pleasing the right wing of his conference while not scaring moderates, keeping his fractious conference together while setting up the real possibility of a third presidential impeachment in less than five years.

The increased talk of impeachment comes as the GOP dives further into investigations of Hunter Biden, who on Wednesday saw his plea agreement get placed on hold after a federal judge questioned the scope of the deal.

The drive also has heavy political implications, with attacks on Biden and his family being fertile ground ahead of the 2024 election, especially with the economy rebounding in a way that could help the White House.

But going too far poses the risk of turning off swing-district voters and endangering moderates in McCarthy’s conference. Those members back investigating Biden, but they might not support an impeachment vote. 

McCarthy’s efforts so far have threaded this needle as he insists that he will never pursue impeachment for “political purposes.”

“The Speaker has said that there may be an impeachment inquiry. That is not impeachment,” said Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who represents a district Biden won in 2020. “That is Congress continuing its responsibilities to look into the issues that have been raised.”

“Are they producing enough facts and evidence that warrant taking it to the next step? I don’t think it’s there at the moment. But these committees are doing their job,” Lawler said.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), another swing district Republican, said an impeachment inquiry effort poses an electoral risk “if it looks like it’s rushed and we’re not doing due process and due diligence.”

“But if we’re very thorough about it. … I think the voters will feel differently,” Bacon said.

In a closed-door conference meeting Wednesday, McCarthy put no timeline on starting an impeachment probe and urged members not to overstate the evidence obtained so far, according to several GOP members.

Conservatives who have been pushing for the impeachment of Biden administration officials generally offered support for McCarthy’s approach as they try to pull the Speaker to the right on a host of other policy and spending matters.

“I don’t think there’s any question that him speaking to that has caused a paradigm shift,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said of McCarthy floating an impeachment inquiry.

McCarthy and other Republicans point to numerous issues they see stemming from information compiled from IRS whistleblowers who allege prosecutors slow-walked the Hunter Biden tax crime investigation, and from financial records they obtained that show President Biden falsely denied his family made money from China.

“Let’s just say there’s a whole hell of a lot of smoke, and our job is to present the fire,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), adding he would support an impeachment inquiry against Biden.

Not all conservatives are pleased, though. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) sees impeachment talk as a distraction from the right flank’s push to get McCarthy to agree to lower spending levels in appropriations bills.

“This is impeachment theater,” Buck said on CNN Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s responsible for us to talk about impeachment. When you start raising the ‘I’ word, it starts sending a message to the public, and it sets expectations.”

Republicans have not proven President Biden was part of any of Hunter Biden’s business activities, interfered in his criminal case, or directly financially benefited from his son’s foreign business dealings. 

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has repeatedly said the president “was never in business with his son.

And Ian Sams, White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, tweeted on Monday night that McCarthy was focusing on impeachment inquiry “instead of focusing on the real issues Americans want us to address like continuing to lower inflation or create jobs.”

McCarthy suggested a potential impeachment inquiry could not center directly on those issues, but instead on the Biden administration’s cooperation with the House GOP probes.

“If the departments in government, just like Richard Nixon used, deny us the ability to get the information we’re asking, that would rise to an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said on Tuesday.

Republicans also argue the weight of a formal impeachment inquiry would give the House more power to get the information it seeks from its various investigations.

“If we don’t have access to the information, then you do have to escalate the oversight of the House,” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), another Biden-district Republican, echoed after a GOP conference meeting on Wednesday.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that when he was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee setting up impeachment of former President Donald Trump four years ago, his theory that an impeachment inquiry would give more weight to enforcing subpoenas did not pan out.

“We thought that it puts the weight of the House behind the request, not just the weight of a committee,” Nadler said. “It didn’t work.”

Democrats are scoffing at the GOP impeachment effort. Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison suggested McCarthy’s interest in impeaching Biden was a way for him to do the “bidding” of Trump — though McCarthy told reporters Tuesday he had not talked to the former president about a potential impeachment inquiry.

“I don’t think that they’ve been prevented from getting information that they want. I think the biggest problem they have is all of the information that they’ve gotten does not support their overreaching and unsubstantiated conclusions and allegations,” said Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.). “He is using that as an excuse to start an impeachment inquiry without any evidence of wrongdoing.”

And while the House GOP conference is largely lining up behind McCarthy as he floats impeachment for now, there is potential for frustrations to flare if members resist efforts to move forward on an actual inquiry in the future.

“At this point, I don’t know how there can’t be support for it. Any Republican that can’t move forward on impeachment with all the information and overwhelming evidence that we have — I really don’t know why they’re here, to be honest with you,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). 

Source : The Hill