Some House Republicans are openly admitting that they have no evidence to impeach President Joe Biden as they prepare to vote to officially launch a probe into him later this week.
When asked if Biden committed high crimes or misdemeanors, Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told reporters on Tuesday, “Probably not.”
“They’re getting millions of dollars off the Biden name,” Bacon said, but added, “that’s not to say there was a crime by the president.”
Bacon told Fox News that he changed his position from opposing the inquiry in the last two weeks because Biden’s administration has indicated it would not be providing documents if the House doesn’t hold a formal impeachment inquiry.
“Well I translate that to say, ‘We better pass an impeachment inquiry so we can get this information,'” Bacon explained.
Alleged moderate House Republican Don Bacon says he’s changed his position and he’s now for an impeachment inquiry pic.twitter.com/v3BxenQfXJ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 12, 2023
The lower chamber of Congress is set to vote formally to approve the inquiry on Wednesday. Ahead of the vote, the resolution to authorize the inquiry was considered by House Rules Committee on Tuesday.
NEGUSE: What is the specific constitutional crime that you are investigating?
RESCHENTHALER: High crimes, misdemeanors, and bribery
NEGUSE: What high crime and misdemeanor are you investigating?
RESCHENTHALER: Look, once I get time, I will explain what we’re looking at pic.twitter.com/6Vv3N9GVkE
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 12, 2023
A separate resolution the committee will consider would assert that any subpoenas issued after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the investigation in late September — but before the full House vote — carry the same legal weight as subpoenas issued after the vote.
House Republicans have a slim margin for error in the vote as they can only afford to have three dissenters within their ranks — down from four due to Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. expulsion — to approve the impeachment probe if all members are present and Democrats vote no.
Several of the 17 Republicans in district Biden won in 2020, along with other center-right lawmakers, have been skeptical about proceeding with the inquiry. Speaker Mike Johnson, who recognized many Republican representatives don’t believe Biden has committed impeachable offenses, has floated the vote as an opportunity to imbue the investigation with greater powers.
The GOP, like Bacon, has also argued that the move is now necessary in order to get around what they claim is the Biden administration’s stonewalling of the inquiry.
“The concerns are very real, and the evidence is stacked up to a level where I believe going forward in a formal impeachment inquiry is justified,” Rep. John Duarte, R-Calif., one of the 17 Republicans told the Washington Examiner. “We need the complete set of facts. And I am going to support the committee to get the complete set of facts.”
Despite plans to move forward with the vote, more Republicans are saying there isn’t enough evidence to impeach Biden, who has been under congressional scrutiny since the GOP assumed control of the House earlier this year.
Republican Main Street Caucus chair Dusty Johnson, South Dakota, said Monday that “there’s not evidence to impeach,” but said the vote this week was not about whether the party would impeach the president or not.
“I’m not an expert,” he told reporters. He declared that “we have had enough political impeachments in this country” and said he’s willing to go along with leadership’s direction because he believes the Biden administration has failed to comply with everything.
“I don’t like the stonewalling the administration has done,” Johnson added. “But listen, if we don’t have the receipts, then that should constrain what the House does.”
Republicans have argued that the formalization of the probe will give the party greater purchase in potential legal battles over compliance with subpoenas in the investigation. The party is already involved in a high-profile sparring match with Hunter Biden, the president’s son, over his testimony in the inquiry. The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed the younger Biden to testify behind closed doors, but he has previously refused to sit for deposition, instead offering to testify in a public hearing.
GOP investigators haven’t produced any evidence that directly links the president to his family’s overseas business activity, which have been a key factor in the probe. Witnesses in the investigation have also negated allegations of a bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Biden.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., told the Messenger he views the impeachment inquiry as a “necessary step” and as a “kind of formality” to give investigators stronger tools to carry out the probe. That said, Newhouse, one of two House Republicans still serving in Congress who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, clarified that the official opening of an inquiry does not mean the chamber with ultimately vote to impeach the president.
“I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion,” he told the outlet, noting the inquiry is designed to “get the answers to the necessary questions in order to be able to make that decision.”
Bacon echoed those sentiments in an interview with the Washington Examiner, adding that “more likely than not” articles of impeachment won’t be drafted when the inquiry comes to an end.
“Frankly, my thought is, and I may be an outlier on this, I think it’s more important to have this information for the elections. Let the voters decide,” Bacon told Hill reporters. “I don’t know that you’re going to see a high crime or misdemeanor, but I think the voters deserve to know what did the Bidens do with $25 million. Where did it come in from? Where did it go? I think the voters should know what’s going on.”
Bacon explained that he didn’t believe a vote to formalize the inquiry would hurt the Republicans representing Biden-won district but acknowledged that “an impeachment is a different story.”
“With the information we have now, you wouldn’t get a single Democrat vote. It would just die in the Senate,” he told the Examiner. “We’ve seen the history. … Whatever party pushes on impeachment loses seats. And so we’d be the minority if we do it with the current information we have. You got to have high crimes and misdemeanors. We should do it right, play this by the book.”
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., has voiced his decision to vote against formalizing the inquiry, telling NBC News last week that he believes he’s the only GOP representative planning to vote no.
Democrats also pushed back against the vote on Monday.
“If House Republicans took the time to look at their local newspaper, they would know that the public isn’t interested in wasting any more time on a sham impeachment,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Viet Shelton told NBC News. “The American people want results on the kitchen table issues that matter to their day-to-day lives — not MAGA Republicans’ obsession with Donald Trump’s reckless revenge quest.”
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., on Tuesday criticized Bacon for saying he’d vote in favor of formalizing the Biden impeachment inquiry despite his admission to reporters.
“I guess the question is when are people going to stand up and end this extreme political stunt?” McGovern said. “This is not the beginning of something. This should be the end of something. You’ve been doing this for over a year, and there’s nothing there. There’s no smoke. So this is a colossal waste of time.”
Rep. McGovern: “Trump says jump, the MAGA extremists say ‘how high?’ Donald Trump asks them to impeach Joe Biden, and here we are … when this is all over, I’m confident that the American people will overwhelmingly agree that this whole impeachment stunt is a national disgrace.” pic.twitter.com/qiR2T15a0A
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 12, 2023
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