Mar 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden impeachment push struggles under mounting GOP skepticism

President Joe Biden, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and green tie, stands in front fo a sparkly green backdrop with two four-leaf clovers.

President Biden. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

House Republicans are growing increasingly sour on the prospect of an impeachment vote against President Biden.

Why it matters: With the presidential election heating up, many GOP lawmakers think their most politically opportune route is to try to ding Biden politically without taking a risky, politically charged vote.

  • "The question of whether there is enough evidence is probably secondary to whether it's wise at this time," said swing-district Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.).
  • "With a presidential election right around the corner, it seems best that the voters decide the legal fates of both the major party candidates."

State of play: The House Oversight Committee's high-profile impeachment hearing on Wednesday mainly served as an opportunity for Democrats to taunt Republicans on the apparent unlikelihood of an impeachment vote.

  • At one point in the hearing, Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) challenged Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) to second his motion to impeach Biden.
  • "No, nothing. OK, we've got nothing," Moskowitz said after Comer met his motion with silence. "They're never going to impeach Joe Biden. It's never going to happen. ... This is a show, it's all fake."

What they're saying: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) said his eye is on Comer and other GOP committee chairs leading the impeachment inquiry, telling Axios, "Until they have a convincing argument, then no. ... On impeachment, no shots in the dark."

  • Asked if the chairs have provided that evidence, Zinke said "they have not expressed that to me or the caucus," adding, "if we're going to do an impeachment, it should be based on facts."
  • Republicans are also cognizant of the difficulties they've had in passing party-line votes with their two-seat margin: "Impeachment will be difficult with a small majority," said Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), who added that he would personally vote to impeach Biden.
  • "As we are right now … I don't think we have the votes for impeachment," said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a member of the inquiry.

What we're hearing: One House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the impeachment inquiry is "slowing" and that the likely off-ramp is criminal referrals to the Justice Department.

  • Armstrong said there are "clearly places in which we can issue criminal referrals."
  • Another GOP lawmaker made the case that "exposing the dirty laundry" in public hearings is a more desirable end-goal than impeachment.
  • "The worst thing [for Biden] is you give all the dirty laundry to the American people and there's no chance for redemption in the form of acquittal" in the Senate, the lawmaker said.

The other side: "There's nothing in the Constitution that says there is a time constraint," said House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

  • Whether there is a vote is "driven by the facts and the House of Representatives," Jordan added.

What's next: Comer, for his part, is signaling plans to continue the impeachment inquiry for the foreseeable future.

  • At the end of Wednesday's hearing, he said he will invite President Biden to testify to his committee so the public can "evaluate for themselves the president's honesty and fitness for the office he now holds."
  • The White House suggested Biden is unlikely to accept any such request for testimony.
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