The Strategy Behind An Impeachment Inquiry – An impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is all but here.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has toyed with the idea for months amid pressure from Republicans on the party’s hard-right.
In July, McCarthy said evidence was rising to the level of an impeachment inquiry before Congress went into its August recess.
However, there are strategic elements in launching a formal proceeding with any success, so that timing will be crucial.
Government funding expires at the end of September. If a Budget is not passed by the House, all government operations will be forced into shutdown, including “investigations and everything else,” according to McCarthy.
The threat of an investigative hiatus will keep hardline conservatives onside. It buys McCarthy and the House Oversight Committee – currently investigating first son Hunter and whether his father profited from his foreign business dealings – time to produce further evidence for a formal impeachment.
Joe Biden Impeachment: Lack of Evidence Means Lack of Support
A major factor in whether to impeach is based on concrete evidence.
While the optics of the then-vice president joining phone calls via speakerphone do not look great, the reality is that, so far, Republicans have been unable to prove that Joe Biden benefitted financially from his son’s foreign business dealings.
Despite GOP control of the house, fringe Republicans holding seats in Democrat states are less enthusiastic about the idea of impeachment. After all, constituents do not take politically motivated criminal investigations kindly. If the 18 Republicans who gained their seats in states which Biden won in 2020 support and unevidenced impeachment, moderate constituents will undoubtedly oust anyone who they see as merely towing the party line.
One GOP lawmaker, on condition of anonymity, told CNN: “There’s no evidence that Joe Biden got money, or that Joe Biden, you know, agreed to do something so that Hunter could get money. There’s just no evidence of that. And they can’t impeach without that evidence. And I don’t think the evidence exists.”
Ultimately, an impeachment inquiry does not need a formal vote. There is no constitutional requirement for lawmakers to do so, and without unanimous party support, senior Republicans may feel they have no incentive to convene the House.
Such a move would almost certainly prove unpopular from skeptical Republicans, and it’s only happened once in the 90 inquiries that have been launched by the House. However, it would also allow senior party figures an opportunity to produce convincing evidence which may sway the House when a vote to impeach is held. When Democrats launched their first impeachment against former president Donald Trump, House lawmakers used the opportunity to set parameters despite initial reluctance due to divisions within the party.
An impeachment inquiry is a political landmark as well as a symbolic one. Given that it could shape next year’s elections, it’s no surprise that Speaker McCarthy is treading carefully.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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