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President Joe Biden asserted executive privilege today over the audio files of his interviews with Special Counsel Robert Hur.

Republicans pump brakes on impeachment inevitability

The general consensus on Capitol Hill is that once Republicans vote to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden this week, it’s extremely likely the House will end up voting to impeach the president.

The reasoning: It’s hard to imagine in this partisan era that House Republicans open such a probe and then conclude that Biden did nothing wrong.

House GOP lawmakers, for their part, largely pushed back on that rationale Monday, saying it wasn’t accurate to assume Biden’s impeachment is inevitable.

“I’m sure there’s some people that would just as soon skip this part, but I don’t know that that’s a foregone conclusion,” Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) said.

Notably, Newhouse is one of only two Republicans left in the House who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his conduct during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Newhouse added he supports the Biden inquiry being opened “so we can get the questions answered and make an intelligent decision on impeachment.”

“If we don’t have the receipts, that should constrain what the House does” on impeachment, Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) said.

And Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) said that Republicans shouldn’t “short-circuit due process.” Garcia said the GOP should only move forward with impeachment if the evidence and testimony warrant it.

House Republicans are set to vote as soon as Wednesday to formally authorize the Biden impeachment inquiry. GOP leadership decided to go down this route because of alleged obstruction from the White House, a charge the Biden administration firmly denies.

“I think everybody just needs to relax,” Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) told us. “We’re not voting on impeachment. We’re voting on the impeachment inquiry to look at the evidence.”

These comments run at odds with public statements from House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), who told Newsmax earlier this year that he “would vote to impeach [Biden] right now.”

But the prospect of breaking the alleged “stonewalling” tactics of the White House has become a common defense for Republicans voting to authorize the impeachment inquiry.

“When the president refuses to provide documents like he did last week, and says it’s because you don’t have a formal inquiry, that forces our hand,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), a vulnerable incumbent in a Democratic-leaning district, told us.

It remains to be seen if voters in districts that supported Biden in 2020 will punish their Republican representatives for their impeachment stances. Democrats are already planning to hammer the endangered GOP incumbents for focusing on going after Biden over kitchen-table issues.

And with what could be down to a two-seat majority early next year, it’s unclear if House GOP leaders will even have the votes to impeach Biden.

“I can defend an inquiry. I can’t defend impeachment right now,” Bacon said.

To date, Republicans haven’t found conclusive evidence of wrongdoing by Biden as it relates to his family’s business dealings.

— Max Cohen

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