House Republican leadership isn’t happy with Rep. Lauren Boebert’s current impeachment shenanigans, but that’s not because they don’t plan to impeach Biden. They just don’t like the timing and the specifics. Speaker Kevin McCarthy knows that his members and the Republican base will demand a baseless impeachment while the party has a House majority, but he wants to at least pretend it’s not a foregone conclusion, and that Republicans only went where the evidence lead after sober consideration. (Ha ha ha.)
McCarthy’s line, offered to reporters on Wednesday, is: “What I am saying is these investigations will follow the information we get wherever it will take us.” He also repeated uncorroborated accusations against the president, though, in case you were tempted to believe that the fix wasn’t in.
House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, who is leading a series of “investigations” into the president and his son Hunter, is similarly pretending that impeachment is a giant question mark.
“We’ve never said impeachment, yes or no,” Comer told Punchbowl. “If it leads to impeachment, it leads to impeachment. Our investigation, we’ve still got several more months of work to do before I can issue a report … I don’t think what happens tomorrow [on the Boebert resolution] will have any impact. Nor will the plea-bargain deal with the president’s son.”
House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry insists, “The goal is not impeachment.” The real goal, he said, was information. “But if the information leads you to facts that require and demand accountability, that’s the only accountability.” And “yes,” Perry believes Republicans will uncover said “information” against Biden and support for impeachment will build.
Other Republicans are being even less circumspect.
“Ultimately, you’re going to see Biden impeached,” Rep. Andy Ogles told Punchbowl. “The question is when and is it soon enough for the American people?” Ogles, like Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, has introduced an impeachment resolution. Rep. Eli Crane said impeachment will “absolutely” be an outcome of the investigations.
The likelihood that McCarthy will be able to stifle the demands for Biden’s impeachment is only slightly higher than the likelihood that McCarthy will be remembered as an effective speaker. Under his leadership, House Republicans have few legislative accomplishments to tout, and the promised bombshell hearings on Hunter Biden and anything else they could dig up to undermine the president have flopped. Impeachment is what Republicans have left to pander to their base, mollify the people whose support McCarthy lobbied and traded for through 15 speaker votes, and pretend they have gotten something done.
But an impeachment could very well backfire on Republicans. They’ll be going into it, after all, with scant evidence and screamingly obvious partisan motivations. And unless they conduct impeachment hearings with a much higher level of professionalism than they’ve shown to this point, it’s going to be a clown show that reveals again and again that this is about revenge against Democrats for impeaching Donald Trump and about undermining the Biden presidency after Republicans failed to overturn the 2020 elections. Comer says his report won’t come out for “several more months,” which would likely put any impeachment proceedings into 2024. It might motivate their base, but it’s unlikely to be what independent voters want to see from the House of Representatives.
”How can you impeach someone with no evidence?” asked Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. Raskin is pretty smart, so I’m going to assume that was a rhetorical question. He knows Republicans don’t care about evidence, and if they move forward on impeachment, even voters who aren’t paying very much attention will realize that.
Joining us on "The Downballot" this week is North Carolina Rep. Wiley Nickel, the first member of Congress to appear on the show! Nickel gives us the blow-by-blow of his unlikely victory that saw him flip an extremely competitive seat from red to blue last year, including how he adjusted when a new map gave him a very different district and why highlighting the extremism of his MAGA-flavored opponent was key to his success. A true election nerd, Nickel tells us which precincts he was tracking on election night that let him know he was going to win—and which fellow House freshman is the one you want to rock out with at a concert.