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Are Republicans Backing off Impeachment?

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a community event at Sun City MacDonald Ranch in Henderson, Nevada. From Gage Skidmore.

In the first three years of Joe Biden’s presidency, Republicans in the House have introduced a couple of dozen resolutions to impeach him. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) did so on Biden’s first full day in office. None of those went anywhere or were taken up by GOP leadership. 

That changed this summer when then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced that he was letting an impeachment inquiry begin — although he was not actually calling for the president’s impeachment. McCarthy’s move was widely seen at the time as an attempt, ultimately unsuccessful, to appease House conservatives who were threatening to remove him as speaker. 

However, the first impeachment hearing was seen as something of a disaster for the GOP, with their own witnesses stating that they didn’t see impeachable offenses by the president. Not long after, the House became consumed by the ultimately successful effort by McCarthy’s right flank to remove him as speaker, and then by the long and drawn-out process of choosing his successor. 

This week, the House Oversight Committee has finally issued its long-awaited subpoena for Hunter Biden, as well as some other Biden relatives; when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was demanding McCarthy’s removal, one of his complaints was that the president’s son had not yet been subpoenaed. 

At the same time, a new report states that new House Speaker Mike Johnson might not be on board with moving forward with impeachment. 

According to the Washington Post, the impeachment effort “gathered dust on the sidelines” during the weeks-long speaker fight. In addition, Johnson, per the newspaper, “has taken a more reserved tone, both publicly and privately, urging members to conduct a thorough and fair investigation with no predetermined outcome.”

Johnson, in fact, even told a meeting of moderate Republicans this week that “there is insufficient evidence at the moment to initiate formal impeachment proceedings,” the newspaper said. 

“We’ll just go where the evidence goes and we’re not there yet,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) said, in what the Post describes as a “paraphrase” of what Johnson said during the recent meeting of the House Governance Group. “Most of us are saying, look, we can’t even get a single Democratic vote on this right now. I think the voters will reject what they are seeing when it comes to Biden [policies] — but high crimes and misdemeanors? I don’t think we’ve seen that or enough data to really make a good case and I feel like [Johnson] really agreed with us on that.”

The leaders of the House Oversight Committee have spent much of the past year spinning a tale about the “Biden Crime Family,” and have obtained numerous financial records from different relatives of the president. 

The Republicans have uncovered evidence of money that Hunter and the other relatives have made overseas across the years, but they have not uncovered any crimes. Nor have they even established that the president made any money from his family members’ overseas business deals, or that he took any official action to help any of his relatives or their business partners. Republicans have also posited that criminal investigations into Hunter Biden were slow-walked, but those claims are less than solid — and Hunter has, in fact, been indicted. 

They have also accused the president of receiving a $5 million bribe, but that allegation is extremely thin and not backed by any legitimate paper trail. If the House Republican leadership were confident that there was any truth to the bribery allegation, it’s unlikely they would be the slightest bit skittish about wanting to go forward with impeachment. 

Author Expertise and Experience:

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.

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Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.