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Johnson + Comer

Inside the House GOP’s plans to open an impeachment inquiry

News: Speaker Mike Johnson will raise $4 million tonight at his first big D.C. fundraiser, according to sources involved with the planning.

This is an impressive number when you consider that many of the House GOP’s big donors have already maxed out this year to the various hard-dollar Republican fundraising entities.

Jeff Miller, a big-time GOP lobbyist and fundraiser, and Altria’s Todd Walker are the hosts. Organizers expect 200 attendees at the three events: a sit-down dinner at Altria, a VIP reception at DISCUS and a general reception at Honeywell.

The money is going to the Johnson Leadership Fund, which funnels money to Johnson’s reelection campaign, his leadership PAC and the NRCC.

Can Johnson pass an impeachment inquiry? We scooped the news Wednesday morning that House Republicans were moving to open an impeachment inquiry on President Joe Biden sometime this month.

We immediately wondered whether Johnson, whose conference includes 18 GOP lawmakers in districts Biden won in 2020, could pass a resolution authorizing the inquiry. Remember that House Republicans have an incredibly narrow four-seat majority, and impeaching the president isn’t a top priority for vulnerable GOP lawmakers.

As of now, those swing-district Republicans look ready to green-light the Biden probe. And the political reality is that if this investigation is authorized, it may prove impossible to stop the momentum for Biden’s impeachment by the House.

“I definitely would want to make sure that Biden gets held accountable to the fullest extent,” Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.) told us.

Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), a freshman who won in 2022 by less than a thousand votes, said he had “seen enough evidence” to open an inquiry. New York Republican Reps. Marc Molinaro, Nick LaLota and Brandon Williams support an inquiry as well.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who previously said he was opposed to impeaching Biden, told us he now backs a formal impeachment probe.

“I was reluctant to support it in the past, but what I heard this weekend is we’re just not getting the documents,” Bacon told us.

To the extent we sensed any hesitation from endangered Republicans, the criticism centered around the political repercussions rather than the merits of the case.

“Is it warranted? Probably. Is it politically smart? I don’t know. I don’t think so,” Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) said. “I want President Biden to be on the ticket.”

While former Speaker Kevin McCarthy unilaterally opened the inquiry in September, Republican leadership now wants to hold a floor vote in order to bolster the legal authority of their committee’s subpoenas. Earlier this month, a top White House lawyer asserted to Republican investigators that their panels’ subpoenas were “irresponsible” and “unjustified” because the House didn’t vote to open the impeachment inquiry.

Remember: During the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump in 2019, House Republicans ran this same playbook and claimed that the Democratic probe was illegitimate because they hadn’t officially voted to open the probe.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a center-right member of the House Oversight Committee, said he would advocate for an official inquiry vote during a Friday conference meeting on impeachment.

“The letter from the White House is exactly where we’re at,” Armstrong noted. “If we’re going to end up fighting in court, we should put ourselves in the best position possible.”

To be clear, there are still a number of Republicans cool on the idea, and impeaching Biden is still no sure bet. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said he’ll vote against opening an impeachment inquiry. Buck has been outspoken against pursuing such efforts. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) is also a skeptic.

Where the probe stands: Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) has subpoenaed Biden’s brother, James Biden, and son, Hunter Biden, to appear for private depositions.

Comer has also subpoenaed scores of other Biden family business associates and relatives as he attempts to gather more information on the Bidens’ financial dealings.

While Hunter Biden is publicly fighting a subpoena, James Biden’s lawyers and the Oversight majority staff are in contact over scheduling an appearance before the panel.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said his client would publicly testify. Lowell argued Hunter’s answers in a closed-door deposition could be misrepresented by Republicans. Comer has rejected this offer.

The Democratic view: House Democrats are eager to seize on this latest Republican impeachment push as further evidence that the GOP majority has done nothing to help average Americans during nearly 11 months in power.

House Republicans have struggled to achieve much of anything this Congress beyond temporarily funding the federal government and avoiding a devastating debt default. And the Biden impeachment effort is doomed to fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

White House spokesperson Ian Sams called the latest GOP impeachment move “another sad attempt by extreme House Republicans to try to distract from their own chaos and dysfunction.”

“I still feel like, in a substantive sense, [the impeachment probe] hasn’t started yet,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Oversight Democrat, told us.

Max Cohen, Mica Soellner and Jake Sherman

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