“We’re doing these depositions this year and … then we can decide whether or not there are articles,” the House Judicial Speaker said. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told POLITICO, predicting that decision would come early next year.
But here too, an obstacle familiar to Republicans stands in their way: their slim majority. Although Republicans can draft and file articles without a blocked number of whips, impeachment proponents will need near unanimity to recommend removing Biden from office, as it is virtually assured that no Democrats will vote to impeach Biden.
Ending an impeachment inquiry without a vote — or failure — would be an embarrassing political setback for both hard-liners and the President. Mike Johnson, whom the conservatives consider their ally on the issue. But centrists remain unconvinced of the need for impeachment, and what’s more, this group is increasingly willing to oppose leadership after three weeks of fighting for president and as 2024 approaches .
“Any sort of impeachment puts our Biden people in a very difficult situation,” a Republican lawmaker involved in the investigation, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly, said in an interview. “Impeachment hurts us politically – it makes our base feel better. »
Republicans are aware that the further they move into 2024, the more the shadow of the next election looms, both for Biden and their own vulnerable members. And there’s no guarantee that the potential political benefits of keeping the conversation in the spotlight until the presidential election will negate the added pressure on Republicans in Biden’s district.
“We understand that the closer we get to an election, the more politicized these conversations become. This makes it all the more important for us to start taking action as soon as possible,” the representative said. Ben Cline (R-Va.), member of the Judiciary Committee.
Jordan estimates he and Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) have another dozen to 15 interviews they want to complete by the end of the year. At least one of those interviews is expected to extend into January: Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, who purchased Hunter Biden art. Jordan, Comer and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Jason Smith (R-Mo.) also updated Johnson on the status of his investigations into Biden last week.
And further fighting on this front could prolong the investigation even further. Comer said he wanted to hold people who don’t comply with subpoenas in contempt, although he acknowledged that was a decision for the conference to make. If anyone in the Republicans’ latest round of interviews fights a subpoena in court, it could trigger a lengthy legal challenge.
Not to mention that impeachment decisions could easily run up against two government funding deadlines in mid-January and early February. But conservatives are eager to move impeachment efforts to the next phase, with the Judiciary Committee expected to take the lead in drafting the official articles.
“I think this needs to move forward with alacrity. I always thought we should be able to move faster. … But I anticipate it will come to the judiciary soon,” the representative said. Dan Bishop (RN.C.), member of this panel.
Republicans have launched a vast investigation into the Biden family for months. They dug into some of Joe Biden and the White House’s previous statements and found examples of Hunter Biden using his last name, including invoking his father in an attempt to boost his own influence. But they struggled to find a direct link showing Biden took any official actions as president or vice president to benefit his family’s business deals.
But Republicans are not putting all their bets in one basket. They hinted they might also include allegations of obstruction in the articles of impeachment, citing any refusal of cooperation from the Biden administration.
Meanwhile, Democrats and the White House are already planning to refute this potential accusation. They cited a Trump-era Justice Department opinion that investigative actions and subpoenas initiated so far are invalid because Republicans never held a formal vote to open the investigation – and are likely to refer to requests for records and satisfied interviews.
“House Republicans have already spent a year on their costly and time-consuming so-called ‘investigation’ and have found no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. In fact, their own witnesses and the thousands of pages of documents they obtained have repeatedly refuted their false claims,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement to POLITICO.
Republican Party lawmakers have also highlighted unproven allegations of corruption as a potential subject for articles of impeachment, even though some of their colleagues doubt they will be able to find the kind of direct evidence that shows Joe Biden participated in this type of “payment for”. play » scandal of which the conservatives accuse him. Republicans on the Oversight Committee also argued in a memo earlier this year that they did not need to show direct payments to Joe Biden to prove “corruption.”
The House GOP also touted two payments from James Biden to Joe Biden — one for $200,000 and another for $40,000 — as proof of “money laundering” and the president benefiting from his family’s business deals . James Biden’s checks are for loan repayments and the White House has said it was a loan, an idea contested by Republicans. Both payments came a month or two after an account that appears to be associated with Joe Biden, based on records reviewed by POLITICO, wired James Biden $200,000 and $40,000.
“I don’t think we’re going to have a captioned video with a Chinese national handing Joe Biden the money from the bank,” said the Republican lawmaker who was granted anonymity, acknowledging that the impeachment case is ongoing. would take place over a “mountain of circumstances”. evidence.” But, they argued, some federal prosecutions had been based on similar grounds.
Centrists credited the GOP investigations with uncovering new evidence about the Biden family’s business dealings and raised questions about Biden himself. But they also warned leaders that they did not want to proceed with a vote without “compelling evidence.” Johnson, in a recent meeting with this faction of the conference, indicated that he was not yet ready to pull the trigger on impeachment, but that they should continue to follow the evidence, according to two Republicans present in the meeting.
Still, it sparked a swift reaction from his right flank, which feared Johnson was trying to quietly end the impeachment. In a statement late last week that appeared aimed at trying to clear things up, Johnson said the GOP investigators “had my full and unwavering support.”
“Now the appropriate step is to swear key witnesses under oath and question them under penalty of perjury, in order to fill in the gaps in the record,” Johnson said, adding that Republicans are heading “towards an inflection point in this critical investigation.