House Republicans barrel toward Biden impeachment inquiry — but some hesitate

House Republicans are barreling toward an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, with some saying the conference should pull the trigger as soon as next month when Congress reconvenes.

“It’s a must,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) told The Hill in an interview. “I mean, if not now, when?”

“We got enough not just to start to inquiry, but we got enough to impeach him,” he added.

Other GOP lawmakers, however, say they are not ready to take the plunge.

“I think before we move on to [an] impeachment inquiry, we should … there should be a direct link to the president in some evidence,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told The Hill in an interview. “We should have some clear evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor, not just assuming there may be one. I think we need to have more concrete evidence to go down that path.”

While the impeachment train has not yet left the station, the engines are fired up.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has been flirting with taking the step for weeks, last week gave his clearest sign yet that the House may start an official inquiry this fall when he told Fox Business the chamber could launch an impeachment inquiry when it reconvenes in September.

Asked by Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday about whether he has the votes to launch an inquiry, McCarthy said: “When we go back, we will discuss this.”

The House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), has worked to keep its investigation into the Biden family’s foreign business dealings front and center during the August recess, releasing transcripts of committee interviews and sending requests for information.

“If you look at all the information we have been able to gather so far, it is a natural step forward that you would have to go to an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said Sunday.

Members visiting their districts over the August recess say they are frequently asked about impeachment. Lawmakers voice concerns about evidence gathered through GOP investigations, in addition to the appointment of a special counsel in the Justice Department’s probe into Hunter Biden, the president’s son. And mounting indictments against former President Trump are further fueling frustration among the conservative base.

McCarthy, as well as other members, stress they will not pursue impeachment for political purposes and that they will be judicious in their investigation — even as they argue the various indictments against Trump are unfair.

“I just want to be very clear that it’s not political. They’re not afraid to punch at our guys. They threw two impeachments at Trump,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas). “I believe that’s political, and sometimes you gotta punch back. But I want to be very clear on this: This isn’t a political response.”

McCarthy said whether he launches an inquiry in September hinges on whether the Biden administration expeditiously produces documents and information that House Republicans are seeking — a claim scoffed at by Democrats, who say that the administration has been forthcoming and are unsure of what information Republicans are waiting on.

But McCarthy’s declaration, nonetheless, pleased some in the right flank.

“I would hope that he would take that action and that he would follow through on the concerns that he’s raised,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus. “With every passing day, it seems there’s more indication of the apparent criminal actions by the Biden crime family.”

“I think it would be challenging for any reluctant Republicans, in the face of the growing evidence, to vote against impeachment of this president if the apparent evidence continues to be confirmed and expanded upon,” Good said.

The House Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees have been probing various aspects of the foreign business dealings of Biden’s family members during his vice presidency.

The committees have created a paper trail of bank transactions and showcased whistleblowers who allege that the Department of Justice (DOJ) slow-walked the tax crimes investigation into Hunter Biden — who now faces a special counsel investigation after his plea deal fell apart. 

The Oversight panel has highlighted testimony from former Hunter Biden associate Devon Archer alleging Hunter many times put his father on speakerphone in front of foreign business associates — arguing President Biden lied when he said he never talked to his son about his business. Archer did, however, testify he was “not aware” of any wrongdoing by then-Vice President Biden, and the conversations were limited to pleasantries.

Republicans have not shown that President Biden directly financially benefited from any of his family’s business activities, but a recent Oversight GOP staff memo argued they do not have to show direct payments to demonstrate corruption.

Many lawmakers say they would support opening an impeachment inquiry to give the House GOP greater leverage in investigations. McCarthy has stressed that point to members, emphasizing that opening an impeachment inquiry does not mean the House is taking a vote on impeachment itself, but it would give them increased powers to investigate. 

With the U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss being elevated to special counsel to oversee the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, some lawmakers are expecting the DOJ to eventually try to block GOP requests for information by citing the ongoing investigation.

“If DOJ is going to use the excuse of, ‘We’re in an active investigation, so we’re providing you nothing’ — now, four years later, they’ve decided to investigate this? — I mean, I have a real tactical problem with that. So the inquiry helps us there specifically with DOJ, then I can see myself being willing to support it,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.). “I think it’s a procedural game on their end.”

But to Armstrong, it is not yet clear whether the House would have better success investigating the Bidens if it chooses to “galvanize” the conservative enthusiasm by opening an inquiry, or if it would be better to continue pursuing multipronged probes from the Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees.

“The question is, what tactical advantages does that give House Republicans in getting the information we’re asking for?” said Armstrong, a member of the House Oversight Committee. “If it helps us do that, then we should do it. And if it doesn’t, then we should be very cautious of it, because there are positives and negatives politically. There’s positives with our base, and there’s negatives with a lot of people in flip seats.”

Bacon said McCarthy, before the August recess, told GOP lawmakers during a conference meeting he was opposed to an impeachment inquiry and needed more direct evidence pointing to the president before launching an investigation.

The moderate Republican now wants to know what changed in McCarthy’s perspective.

“I think it’s gonna be something he’s gonna have to sell us on,” Bacon said of opening an inquiry. “Because when we … before we went on break, he said he was opposed to an inquiry.”

“So I just want to know, he’s gonna have to make the case exactly what switched,” he added.

Members in July said McCarthy told them in a House GOP conference meeting he was not yet taking the step of opening an impeachment inquiry as the committees continue their investigations, but he talked about how an official inquiry could help them in their probes.

White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations Ian Sams tore apart the House GOP’s potential impeachment push.

“Speaker McCarthy has decided the truth should not get in the way of his and House Republicans’ relentless efforts to smear the President. They are prioritizing their own extreme, far-right political agenda at the expense of focusing on what really matters to the American people: working together to make their lives better,” Sams said in a statement. “Instead of pursuing this shameless and baseless impeachment stunt, House Republicans and Speaker McCarthy should join the President to work on continuing to bring down inflation and lower costs, create jobs, and grow the economy. That is, after all, what the American people sent their leaders to Washington to do.”

As House Republicans mull an inquiry and its timing, they are also consumed with intraparty battles over appropriations and are demanding policy changes as a condition of keeping the government open. The House is in session for 12 more days before the end of the fiscal year.

Roy warned that even if the conservative base wants an impeachment inquiry against Biden, spending political capital to get that accomplished in place of other priorities will not be satisfactory.

“Republicans cannot hide behind impeachment as the victory that they need, quote, ‘politically,’ because it’s not about that. Impeachment is a thing you do because it’s righteous, and it’s important for the rule of law,” Roy said.

“Impeaching Biden, as righteous as it is based on the corruption we’ve seen, will do nothing for the individual right now suffering, unable to buy a car, pay for their gas, send their kids to a school [that] will teach them that God is real and America’s great,” Roy said.

Tags Bob Good Chip Roy David Weiss Don Bacon Hunter Biden Ian Sams James Comer Joe Biden Kelly Armstrong Kevin McCarthy Maria Bartiromo Ralph Norman