Senate GOP unhappy with McCarthy on impeachment inquiry: ‘It’s a fool’s errand’

Senate Republicans are unhappy with Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) decision Tuesday to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, as they worry it will backfire on their party.

“It’s a waste of time. It’s a fool’s errand,” one Senate Republican said on the condition of anonymity to speak freely and critically about the politically charged decision.

The senator said even if the House did vote to impeach Biden after an inquiry, there is no way the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would vote to convict.

“Fortunately, it’ll be dispensed with fairly quickly if they ever send articles of impeachment over to us,” the GOP senator said. “We know how this is going to end. It just creates tumult within the conference. I can see it already how people are going to react when they send a message over if they go that far.” 

The impeachment decision comes as McCarthy seeks to corral his members around a government funding strategy that would prevent a shutdown at the end of the month.

There has long been speculation that an impeachment push could be an effort to help win votes to avoid a shutdown.

“Maybe this is just Kevin giving people their binkie to get through the shutdown,” the Senate GOP member said.  

The Senate Republican added that an impeachment push is a political loser for the GOP and noted that of all the internal polling they’ve seen, not once has impeachment been listed as a priority for GOP primary voters. 

“It seems like we’re spending a lot of time on things that matter to them that don’t matter to the people I want to have a positive opinion of Republicans next November … This is not driving [general election] turnout,” the lawmaker said. “The only thing that this does is let the folks over there get on TV. It doesn’t do anything to help us with our campaigns next year … They’re all acting like children.”

Republican senators for weeks have signaled they are cool to any House impeachment effort by McCarthy.

A number of Senate GOP members said that they have not seen any alleged offense by Biden that rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and pressed that the timing of the news is unhelpful to the party as they push to fund the government by the end of the month. 

“It is frustrating, obviously,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told The Hill. “I don’t know what the evidence is, where they’re going with this. I’m going to default to the position that the House is going to do what the House is going to do, and we’ll have to react to that.”

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters that McCarthy is “under a lot of pressure” from his conference on impeachment, but maintained that the best way to change the president is via an election.

“At least over here in the Senate, we need to be focused on trying to move legislation and keep the trains running,” Thune said. “I don’t think it’d be advantageous if this thing went further with all the other things we have to do.”

Some conservatives, however, appeared open to the House push.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said that he was fully on board with the inquiry. 

Others believed it was worthwhile as part of an attempt to gain cooperation from the White House. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted to convict former President Trump twice, made that point and panned the White House for having “coddled” Hunter Biden.

“The inquiry follows the fact that Hunter Biden was shaking down foreign entities for millions of dollars. That’s just ugly, and the White House has been silent about that, has invited Hunter Biden to a state dinner and has not indicated what the president knew,” Romney said, reiterating that there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the president. 

McCarthy’s move to direct the leaders of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee to head up the inquiry is also coming under fire from some Senate Republicans.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who served as an impeachment manager in former President Clinton’s trial in 1998, said that the Speaker should hold a vote to kick off the inquiry — a move McCarthy said he would make earlier this month. 

“If you’re going to impeach a president, you should have an inquiry vote. The Democrats didn’t do that,” Graham said. “The way to make an inquiry legitimate is to have a vote as to whether you should have one at all rather than just the leadership deciding.”

Alexander Bolton contributed.

Tags Biden Impeachment Hunter Biden John Thune John Thune Josh Hawley Josh Hawley Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy Lindsey Graham Lindsey Graham Mitt Romney Mitt Romney Shelley Moore Capito Shelley Moore Capito