After approving their investigation, Republicans were able to delay a vote on Biden’s impeachment

By | December 22, 2023

WASHINGTON – House Republicans are continuing their investigation into the president Joe Biden‘s family-owned businesses, with some in the Republican Party predicting a formal impeachment vote in the early months of 2024.

But there are others in the party who say the lawsuit could continue and extend well into the presidential election year, as legal battles over subpoenas for documents and depositions play out in the courts.

And there are Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill who share a third view: Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., might never bring up an impeachment vote because of a lack of evidence, a lack of Republican votes, or both.

“If I had $100 and had the chance to bet that I could make it a million dollars, I don’t know if I would risk losing that $100 in this process,” said a GOP member who previously was in the lead. “The bottom line is: I don’t know how it’s going to end.”

“One of the possibilities is that they don’t force a vote on articles of impeachment because they don’t have articles of impeachment,” added a senior Democratic aide to the House of Representatives who has been closely following the Republican Party’s impeachment efforts .

President Joe Biden (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The Republican Party’s triumvirate of top investigators — Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith of Missouri — has created a cloud of ethical doubt around the Bidens, but has not yet produced any concrete evidence. of wrongdoing or influence by the president himself.

Even Republicans admit they have not seen any evidence of Biden’s alleged high crimes and misdemeanors.

“I haven’t seen anything yet that indicates the president has done anything wrong,” Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio, a former prosecutor and leader of the centrist Republican Governance Group, said in an interview. “We have gone through the process of indicting President Biden and members of the Biden family, but we have not yet seen any evidence to support the indictment.”

Another Republican skeptic, Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska, warned that an overtly politicized impeachment could backfire on his own party.

“If this is seen as a revenge accusation or a politicized impeachment … it will hurt Republicans,” Bacon said Wednesday during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press NOW.” “If we don’t handle this properly and it looks like we’re using it as a political weapon, it’s going to come back to bite us all.”

Still, both Bacon and Joyce said they, like all other Republicans, voted earlier this month to launch the impeachment inquiry to allow investigators to get more information from the Biden family and the administration.

Echoes of Benghazi

While it would infuriate the party’s conservative base, delaying an impeachment vote — or postponing it entirely — could prove to be a politically useful strategy for the Republican Party.

Like House Republicans’ special Benghazi investigation, which dogged Democrat Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 campaign cycle (and was only halted after Trump defeated her), the newly authorized impeachment inquiry could torment Biden during the November elections, and serve as Republican Party counterprogramming for his likely opponent Donald Trump’s civil and criminal trials in New York, Washington, DC, Florida and Georgia . Trump’s case over federal secret documents will go to trial in May, while Georgia prosecutor in Trump’s election interference case, Fani Willis, wants a trial in August.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits at a table with an audience behind her.  (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images file)Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits at a table with an audience behind her.  (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits at a table with an audience behind her. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

A recent NPR/PBS/Marist poll found that Americans are now evenly split on Biden’s impeachment inquiry, with 49% supporting it and 48% opposing it. In the same poll in October, 47% supported the survey, while 52% opposed it. And nearly seven in 10 voters believe Biden acted illegally or unethically in his son’s business dealings, according to an October AP-NORC poll.

It would also be an electoral godsend for vulnerable Republicans who have been reluctant to support their party’s aggressive impeachment proceedings. Since the Republican Party’s unanimous vote on Dec. 13, the Democratic campaign arm has released stories and statements attacking the 17 Republicans representing the swing districts Biden won in 2020 for “caving to MAGA extremists and Donald Trump.”

At a recent press conference, Speaker Johnson declined to discuss the possibility of Republicans not filing articles of impeachment against Biden.

“We are not going to prejudge the outcome of this,” the speaker responded. “We can’t do that because, again, it’s not a political calculation.”

Rep. Ted Lieu of California, a member of the Democratic leadership team that served as impeachment manager in Trump’s second Senate trial, argued that the Republican Party’s Benghazi investigation was the wrong comparison. He said Biden’s impeachment inquiry is more similar to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, which boosted Clinton’s approval ratings and caused the Republican Party to lose seats in the 1998 midterm elections, forcing then-Chairman Newt Gingrich to resign.

“I believe Joe Biden’s numbers will rise as a result of this impeachment because it continues to demonstrate that Republicans are focused on priorities that few Americans care about,” Lieu said in an interview outside the Capitol.

“Democrats will focus on lowering costs and creating jobs, and they will focus on baseless impeachment,” he added. “So as long as they keep talking about impeachment, it will continue to help the Democrats and Joe Biden.”

A difficult math problem

Skepticism about the evidence from Joyce’s Republican Party, retired Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., and others is complicating an already difficult math problem for the speaker. This month, the House of Representatives resigned indicted Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., and Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, from Congress and will not return in the new year. It means Johnson can afford to lose just three GOP votes to pass anything in the chamber, including a resolution to impeach Biden, which would force a Senate trial that almost certainly will end in acquittal, given the Democratic majority.

Kevin McCarthy walks down a hallway in the Capitol, flanked by staffers (Win McNamee / Getty Images file)Kevin McCarthy walks down a hallway in the Capitol, flanked by staffers (Win McNamee / Getty Images file)

Kevin McCarthy walks down a hallway in the Capitol, flanked by staffers (Win McNamee / Getty Images file)

Johnson’s minuscule majority could be reduced to just two seats after Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, steps down in the first quarter of 2024 to become university president, and if former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi wins back his old seat in February. 13 special elections to fill Santos’ vacancy.

Conservative Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., said a vote to impeach Biden “should happen in the first quarter,” but only if the evidence is there.

“I’m talking about real evidence – not fabricated evidence,” said Loudermilk, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s two impeachments. ‘You just have to have very hard evidence.’

As with the investigative vote, Democrats are expected to be united in their opposition to a future impeachment vote. And Loudermilk predicted that if 218 Republican votes don’t pan out, Johnson won’t bring it up. There are serious concerns that if an impeachment vote fails in the House, it would amount to a Republican Party exoneration for Biden after a year-long investigation.

“I think if the evidence isn’t there, the speaker probably wouldn’t bring it up,” the Georgia congressman said. “We try to do it by the books. Democrats have lowered the constitutional bar for impeachment; we have to bring it back.”

No timeline for a vote

Major Republicans appear to be in no hurry for a quick impeachment vote.

“I don’t want to predict that,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., the new chairman of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said of the timing of a vote.

Smith, the chairman of Ways and Means, which has spent months investigating the alleged tax crimes of the president’s son, Hunter Biden, and whether Biden’s Justice Department interfered with an IRS investigation into the son, also did not provide a firm timeline.

“There’s a lot of information we need,” Smith told NBC News. “It’s difficult to put a timeline on it. It depends on how cooperative the government and the witnesses will be with us, because they have not been.”

“It should take as long as it takes to get it right,” added Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla. “So I have no preconceived idea whether that’s next week or next year.”

The House vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry was intended to help investigators enforce subpoenas to gather more evidence. Jordan, the Judiciary Committee chairman and Trump loyalist who previously served on the Benghazi Commission, already has his top targets. He wants to oust Jack Morgan and Mark Daly, two low-level lawyers in the DOJ’s tax division who, IRS whistleblowers had said initially believed Hunter Biden should be charged with criminal tax charges. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors recommended a probation sentence in exchange for the Biden son’s guilty plea to tax violations, but that deal collapsed in August.

This month, special counsel David Weiss indicted Hunter Biden on nine tax-related charges, including three felonies.

“DOJ has refused to let us talk to those guys,” Jordan said of Morgan and Daly. “So we think this official investigation has given us a better opportunity to talk to those two individuals who were the only two people in the investigation. that we haven’t dropped off yet.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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