You’ve heard of “infrastructure week.”
The past week wasn’t quite “impeachment week” for House Republicans.
But it came close.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., went further on impeachment for President Biden than he had before.
“This is rising to the level of impeachment inquiry which provides Congress the strongest power to get the rest of the knowledge and information needed,” said McCarthy on Fox. “This President has also used something we have not seen since Richard Nixon used the weaponization of government to benefit his family and deny Congress the ability to have the oversight.”
This suggests the House could prospectively launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden over alleged ties to his son’s business dealings.
“When more of this continues to unravel, it rises to the level of an impeachment inquiry where you would have the Congress have the power to get to all these answers,” said McCarthy.
In addition, McCarthy has more than cracked the door on impeachment with President Biden and maybe even Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“I would move to an impeachment inquiry if I found that the Attorney General has not only lied to the Congress, the Senate, but to America,” said McCarthy said earlier this month about Garland and how his office handled the Hunter Biden case.
But while McCarthy talks “impeachment inquiry,” he’s not ready to launch an actual impeachment inquiry.
“Define what this is right now,” I asked the Speaker on Tuesday.
“We’re no different from where we were yesterday,” replied McCarthy. “We continue to find more information.
But just the Speaker saying “impeachment” alters the fundamental equation.
McCarthy’s impeachment language impresses the hard right.
“When he does speak to impeachment, it carries a tremendous amount of weight,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va.
I asked Good if the Speaker mentioning this “shifted the ground?”
“I don’t think there’s any question that him speaking to that has caused a paradigm shift,” said Good.
The House must vote to launch an official impeachment inquiry. As per usual, this is about the math. It’s unclear if the House has the votes to do that. Let alone impeach the President. Or Garland. Or anyone else.
House Republicans are struggling to settle on exactly who they want to impeach.
“It’s all of the above,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C. “Look at the evidence that we have.”
Sometimes mentioned as impeachment candidates: FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss. Weiss handled the Hunter Biden prosecution. Another name: U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves.
It can be hard to keep up.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., suggested that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is the “low hanging fruit.”
A senior House Republican leadership source tells Fox that potential impeachment for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is “the furthest along.” Although that doesn’t mean that it’s that far along. It’s just that GOPers believe they have the strongest case against Mayorkas regarding the border.
Fox is told that this is something of a high-level “trial balloon.” McCarthy wants to get a sense of what GOPers want to do. And most importantly, where the votes may lie for impeaching anyone.
Thus, the math.
A senior House GOP source says Republicans leaders will try to see “if there is one (impeachment) that could pass.”
Keep in mind that House Republicans are only operating with a four seat majority. Threading the needle on anything as serious as impeachment is challenging.
“A lot of our members will make decisions on how well the argument is made,” said a Republican leadership source.
The problem for the GOP is that there is a wide swath of Republican members in rock-ribbed conservative districts who would impeach Mr. Biden and many members of his cabinet “no matter what” said one GOP source. But actually executing a successful impeachment depends on the math.
There are 18 House Republicans who represent districts which President Biden carried in 2020. A vote to impeach any cabinet figure, let alone the President, could spell a political death sentence.
So, impeachment is out there – even if it isn’t.
This sounds familiar.
Rewind to late July 2019, following the House testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller about former President Trump.
Mueller didn’t exactly deliver the goods on Mr. Trump at what turned out to be an overhyped hearing.
So, Democrats began talking about impeachment – without acting on impeachment – as they entered the customary August Congressional recess.
In 2019, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., opposed impeachment for former President Trump – until she didn’t.
But, as we often write in this space around this time of year, beware the Ides of August.
In August 2019, Pelosi observed a sea change in her caucus. A number of moderate Democratic freshmen who represented swing districts altered their views on impeachment.
Political leaders must have their finger on the pulse of their Members. This is critical. Otherwise, they look like they are being led by their members – not leading themselves. After there were more revelations about former President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Pelosi shifted her position.
McCarthy isn’t quite there yet on impeaching anyone. But he must be mindful of where his members are – and stay in front of them. McCarthy’s statements the past two weeks were efforts to “get in front” of his members, should the votes to impeach present themselves and there is a bona fide shift in that direction.
However, Fox is told that McCarthy is internally worried about overusing impeachment and protecting the institution of the House.
But all members on his right heard was “impeachment.” And that’s all the red meat they needed to take into the August recess.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., says he would vote yes on impeachment. But Comer points out a stark fact.
“The Senate’s never going to remove from office,” said Comer.
Democrats delight in the GOP impeachment milieu.
“Every week we hear a new member of the Biden administration that extreme MAGA Republicans are determined to impeach,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. “The extreme MAGA Republican majority has nothing to show for their time in office but the peddling of conspiracy theories, facilitating hate against communities all across the country and figuring out who was going to be at the top of the list of their impeachment fantasies.”
All of this could spell trouble if the GOP base expects too much.
“This is the danger, particularly for a Speaker, who has so far been trying to tamp down the impeachment expectations,” said George Washington University professor Casey Burgat. “It seems like he’s getting a lot of pushback within his individual conference to say, ‘hey, we have to escalate these investigations and impeachment is now on the table’ if it wasn’t before.”
So this will fester in August.
House Republicans are planning more investigations over the next month. Burisma board member Devon Archer appears for a closed-door, transcribed interview on Monday. Burisma is the Ukrainian firm associated with Hunter Biden.
It wasn’t quite impeachment week. But some Republicans would like August to become impeachment month.