House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Faces Decision on Impeachment Inquiry
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is currently grappling with a significant choice, reminiscent of the one faced by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2019. He must decide whether to initiate an impeachment inquiry against the sitting president, Joe Biden, and whether he possesses the necessary votes and evidence to support such a move.
Four years after Pelosi announced the House Democrats’ decision to impeach former President Donald Trump, House Republicans are now contemplating a similar course of action against President Biden. This comes after months of GOP investigations into Biden’s administration and family, with Republicans alleging that they financially benefited from questionable foreign business dealings, constituting an “alleged criminal scheme.”
Impeachment Process and Challenges
McCarthy is reportedly considering commencing the impeachment process at the end of September, potentially bypassing the customary floor vote that typically precedes an inquiry. While neither the Constitution nor House rules mandate a House vote, it has been customary to initiate impeachment proceedings in this manner on over 60 occasions.
Unlike the Democrats’ approach to Trump’s second impeachment in 2021, which did not involve an official inquiry, they did launch an inquiry into his first impeachment in 2019. Trump was ultimately acquitted in both cases by the Senate.
McCarthy faces an uphill battle as he currently lacks the necessary 218 votes for a House vote on the impeachment inquiry. Some House GOP members privately express concerns about the adequacy of the evidence supporting the inquiry, despite assertions from top leaders such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates Biden’s benefit from his son Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings.
Potential Backlash and Reciprocal Attacks
If the House GOP proceeds with the inquiry, McCarthy and Republicans will likely face the same criticisms they directed at Pelosi and House Democrats. Pelosi initially hesitated to expose her party to such backlash but eventually moved forward after conducting numerous interviews over the course of a month to build their case.
Republicans had previously labeled the Trump impeachments as “illegitimate” and politically motivated, and Democrats will undoubtedly be eager to reciprocate if the House GOP takes action against Biden.
The Impeachment Process and Potential Outcomes
The impeachment process would commence in the Judiciary Committee, followed by a motion to file the articles to the House. The House can vote to impeach with a simple majority, which Republicans narrowly hold, before sending it to the Senate. Given that Democrats control the Senate, it is likely that any Biden impeachment will meet the same fate as the Trump impeachments, resulting in acquittal.
Additional Concerns for McCarthy
However, McCarthy has more than just the potential failure of impeachment on the House floor to worry about. Former President Trump has made it clear that he will closely monitor House GOP efforts and take action against any Republicans who do not support his “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) agenda, even pledging to back primary opponents against them.
McCarthy also faces ongoing tensions with hard-line conservatives, particularly those in the House Freedom Caucus. They expressed dissatisfaction with the debt ceiling deal he struck with Biden and his support for a continuing resolution to keep the government open beyond September 30.
Despite these challenges, some view the impeachment inquiry as a strategic move in terms of conference politics. As one senior Republican lawmaker anonymously told Politico, it provides an alternative focus for discontented members who may be dissatisfied with the pace of appropriations bills or feel that their demands are not being met.
The White House and President Biden have vehemently denied any involvement in suspicious activities related to Hunter Biden, bribery allegations, or questionable foreign business dealings. White House spokesman Ian Sams dismissed the idea of an inquiry as a “baseless impeachment exercise.”
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