McCarthy Tiptoes Through Political Minefield Over Biden Impeachment

Conservatives in House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s conference seek further budget cuts to back a temporary funding package as impeachment talk heats up.

When deciding whether to launch a formal impeachment probe over President Biden, House Speaker McCarthy (R-Calif.) must navigate a political minefield. Moderate members of his conference dispute whether there is enough evidence to initiate a probe, while former President Trump and supporters in the GOP base are pressing for impeachment without a lengthy inquiry.

McCarthy views impeachment as a means to appease his right side and the Freedom Caucus while attempting to maintain unity within his complex party coalition.

The Speaker maintains that initiating an investigation is not the same as impeaching Biden and would give the House excellent legal footing to obtain evidence from the Biden administration more quickly. Trump, who advocated for McCarthy in the 15-person House Speaker election, is now publicly pressuring McCarthy to act swiftly and aiding him in his fight against the four charges against him. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) are just two Republicans who have called for an immediate impeachment investigation.

McCarthy, however, does not yet have the complete backing of his conference. Moderate Republicans like Nebraska’s Rep. Don Bacon are concerned that insufficient “solid evidence” exists to begin an investigation. Republicans say that prosecutors unjustly slowed down their questioning of tax violations committed by Hunter Biden. They cite charges made by former business colleague Devon Archer and IRS whistleblowers.

Conservative operators outside of Congress are worried that an impeachment probe may backfire on Republicans, as it did during the Clinton impeachment in 1998. During the Clinton impeachment, Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the Hous, advised current Republicans to take their time and make their case publicly. Since the House agreed to launch an impeachment probe against Clinton in October 1998 after the publication of independent counsel Ken Starr’s report the previous month, such investigation today would take place far beyond the next general election.

Using Republican concerns that impeachment may backfire, the White House warned that the Republicans’ exercise in futility was sure to fail.