House Republicans plan to hold a vote to formalize their impeachment inquiry into President Biden, with the matter coming before the Rules Committee within the next two weeks, the panel’s chair told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the GOP conference.
Republicans met twice this week to review their probes and the benefits of a formal vote on the inquiry.
GOP members leaving the meeting said they heard from the three committee chairs leading the investigation and once again discussed whether a formal vote would help back the legitimacy of the inquiry as they face resistance from the White House to their subpoenas.
“The committee chairman sort of laid out what they have uncovered so far and some of the roadblocks they’ve hit because of failure of the White House and others to cooperate absent an official impeachment inquiry,” Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) said.
House Rules Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said he expects a vote could come before his panel as early as Wednesday of next week before heading to the full House floor.
Republicans have been divided over the political wisdom of leaning into an impeachment inquiry of Biden, who is struggling with approval ratings well below 50 percent.
Some GOP lawmakers have privately expressed reservations about moving ahead with impeachment as the panels have yet to find a smoking gun finding any wrongdoing regarding the president.
While the move would only formalize the inquiry, a formal impeachment by the House would almost certainly not lead to a conviction in the Democratic-majority Senate, and Senate Republicans have been cool to the idea.
Other GOP figures have also suggested an impeachment of Biden could backfire. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said recently an actual impeachment vote would be a political disaster.
The House GOP probe into Hunter Biden’s business dealings has also fallen short of backing their most salacious allegation — that President Biden accepted a bribe as part of his work as vice president when he was pushing Ukraine to oust a prosecutor that the U.S. and other world leaders accused of failing to address corruption.
A first impeachment hearing held by the House Oversight and Accountability Committee was largely seen as an embarrassment for the GOP, with Democrats getting multiple GOP witnesses to testify they did not believe there was currently enough evidence to justify impeaching Biden.
But a vote to formalize the inquiry would largely affirm an ongoing process, something leadership may be able to secure votes on, even from those with reservations.
“It’s very clear to me that a vote is coming and they want to make sure that they are answering member questions so that there aren’t a lot of surprises. They didn’t say a vote is coming on Tuesday. But it’s very clear to me that if they feel like they can get the votes to move forward they will perhaps as soon as next week,” one GOP lawmaker told reporters.
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said no one expressed reservations about moving forward with an inquiry, but he acknowledged there may be some holdouts in the conference.
“I didn’t hear any arguments against proceeding with an inquiry in there. So if there were those who were opposed to it, and I have some sense of one or two or so that may be, I think it’s important — sometimes the dynamic … in the conference, if you’re expecting people who have reservations to step forward and conference in a minority position, and articulate it, it’s not necessarily the most inviting environment,” he said.
“I think we ought to have conversations in environments with those people and through different personnel involved, different people who may increase levels of trust,” he said, “personally I don’t think there’s a good rational argument not to [proceed].”
The White House on Friday pushed back against Republican claims that they have failed to turn over evidence.
“Claims of ‘obstruction’ and ‘stonewalling’ are easily refuted by the facts,” the White House wrote in its memo, highlighting more than 35,000 pages of private financial records and more than 2,000 pages of Treasury Department financial reports.
Their 36 hours of testimony also include interviews with special counsel David Weiss, who is overseeing the Hunter Biden prosecution, three FBI agents, two U.S. attorneys, the head of the Department of Justice Tax Division, two IRS supervisory officials, and the general counsel at the National Archives.
Still, the pitch within the conference is that a formal inquiry would boost the GOP’s position as it seeks to wrangle remaining depositions and documents.
“We’re assuming the worst — that we’ll have to go to the courts,” House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said.
“So we’re trying to do everything we can to make sure that we’re successful at court.”