Some House Republicans are pushing to change the leadership of the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden after their initial rollout of the inquiry last week was considered a “flop” by several political observers.
According to a new report from Politico, several Republican insiders blamed House Oversight Committee chair Rep. James Comer’s (R-Kentucky) style of showcasing their argument for the inquiry’s poor performance — and some believe they’d be better off with the inquiry in the hands of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
“It’s just a place that impeachment inquiries have traditionally gone,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-North Carolina), himself a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Politico.
Although there are no concrete plans to change the leadership of the inquiry, other Republicans have indicated they are dissatisfied with Comer’s performance, citing his failure to appeal to mainstream media during the opening hearing of the inquiry last Thursday. They also claimed that Comer set the bar “too high” for impeaching Biden, making statements that appeared to suggest that anything less than Biden directly profiting from his son Hunter’s questionable business practices wouldn’t be enough to warrant his removal from office. (Notably, there is no evidence demonstrating that the president has benefited from his son’s business practices.)
“People are just not happy” with the House Oversight Committee’s performance on impeachment, one GOP aide said.
Other sources told Politico that while Comer’s performance last week was poor, Jordan has “been tested on this stuff,” citing his rigid, unyielding defenses of former President Donald Trump during his two impeachments.
But if the basis for impeachment is to convince the American public to vote against Biden in the 2024 presidential election — as some Republicans have indicated — then choosing Jordan over Comer may not make much of an impact.
In both Trump impeachments, for instance, Jordan — perhaps the most notable defender of the former president — provided a forceful (if logically unsound) argument against impeachment. However, polling in Trump’s first impeachment showed that public opinion was unchanged throughout the ordeal, with a plurality of voters throughout the process (and at times, a majority) expressing support for impeachment, according to an average of polls examined by FiveThirtyEight. In the short time span of the second impeachment, an aggregate of polling data showed consistent support for impeaching Trump and removing him from office, even though his time as president was set to expire within a matter of days, showcasing once again that Jordan’s influence in changing the trajectory of public opinion was minimal at best.
Jordans recent track record isn’t much better. As MSNBC producer Steve Benen pointed out, based on the Ohio Republican’s recent attempts to convince Americans, without evidence, that the Biden administration has been “weaponizing” the Department of Justice (DOJ), his ability to influence is not as strong as some party members may believe.
“GOP insiders are mistaken if they think Jordan would excel where Comer has failed,” Benen wrote in a recent column. “Let’s not forget that the Ohioan’s conspiratorial ‘weaponization’ committee has held all kinds of strange hearings, none of which has done Republicans any favors.”
Benen noted that conservatives also described those hearings, like Comer’s first impeachment inquiry meeting, as a “dud.” Changing leadership would be “irrelevant,” Benen added, “if there’s no underlying controversy worth examining.”
Recent polls demonstrate that any effort to convince the American public that an impeachment inquiry is justified — whether Republicans stick with Comer or attempt a “reboot” with Jordan — faces an uphill battle, and that prolonging such efforts could hurt the GOP in the long run.
In an NBC News survey published last week and conducted in mid-September, after Republicans announced they would open an impeachment inquiry into Biden, only 39 percent of Americans expressed support for the GOP’s efforts. Fifty-six percent said that Congress shouldn’t open an impeachment inquiry into Biden.
In a poll that was recently published by Monmouth University, only 34 percent of respondents said they wanted Biden impeached. A significant portion of Republican respondents opposed the attempt to impeach Biden, with 3 in 10 GOP-leaning voters indicating as much.
That poll also found that Americans overall have little faith that Republicans will conduct a fair investigation into Biden, with 50 percent saying the hearings won’t be fair “at all,” and only 15 percent saying they will.
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