Mar 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Republicans find impeachment alternative in Robert Hur

Rep. Troy Nehls, wearing a dark grey suit, white shirt and yellow tie and smoking a cigar with white marble columns in the backdrop.

Rep. Troy Nehls, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

As their hopes for a vote to impeach President Biden fade, House Republicans are looking at upcoming testimony from Biden special counsel Robert Hur as a consolation prize.

Why it matters: Details from Hur's report about Biden's memory lapses are set to play a key role stage in the Tuesday Judiciary Committee hearing as Republicans look to damage Biden ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

  • "His position on Biden's mental state is obviously going to be front and center," Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said of Hur.

State of play: Even Republicans who are fervently in favor of impeaching Biden are skeptical that it will ultimately end up happening.

  • "I would impeach Joe, but we don't have the will to do it in the House. I don't even know if it goes to a floor vote. And if it did it [would] fail … we're not going to impeach Biden in my opinion," said Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas).
  • Roy told reporters he wants to impeach Biden over the border, but "I don't know, we're in an election year so in November the people will speak."
  • He added: "I think we have a duty to try to get all the facts out on all these issues so the American people know them."

The backdrop: Hur's report, released last month, said Biden was not charged for his retention of classified document in part because he would come off to a jury as a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

  • The report said that Biden demonstrated "significant limitations" in his interview with Hur, including by forgetting the year his son Beau died.
  • Biden and his team have pushed back strongly, suggesting the report paint a misleading picture of his mental state and questioning why those details were included.

What we're hearing: Four Republicans on the Judiciary Committee told Axios they expect Biden's age to be a key element of the hearing, along with claims of a double standard in the treatment of Biden and former President Trump.

  • "He wrote something in his report that caused all the Democratic spinsters to get really upset a month ago, so we should find out why that was in that report," Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) told Axios.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told reporters: "While Joe Biden broke the law regarding classified documents, he wasn't charged because he cooperated and because the elevator is not going to the top floor anymore ... so we'll probably probe both of those justifications.

Between the lines: Nehls was candid in his he belief the hearing will damage Biden politically, telling Axios: "Oh I'm sure ... I mean, why are we going to have him there? We're going to expose what [Biden] truly said in that report. The American people need to see it."

  • It should be a political win for Republicans, Nehls said, adding that he is "so glad" Biden is set to be the Democratic nominee.

The other side: Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said he expects his side to emphasize that Trump's refusal to cooperate with federal law enforcement was key to him being charged for his retention of classified documents.

  • "It's clear why he decided not to charge Biden and why Trump was charged and I think it's going to be important to tease that out, make sure the public understands it," Ivey told Axios.
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