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Chairman of the House Oversight Committee James Comer

Is the Biden impeachment inquiry entering the home stretch?

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) is signaling his panel’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is entering the final phase. That got us thinking: With a looming government shutdown deadline in two weeks, could Speaker Mike Johnson entice his far-right flank to put up with a continuing resolution if he offers major action on impeachment?

The idea isn’t concrete yet, to be sure. And many Democrats we spoke to don’t see how Republicans can wrap up the impeachment inquiry so quickly.

But Johnson has made clear that he intends to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open until mid-January. This could incense a small band of conservatives who oppose CRs in any form.

And a note of caution for Johnson: We’ve been here before. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy officially launched the impeachment inquiry into Biden in September. Many saw the move as an attempt by McCarthy to throw a bone to his right-wing detractors. But the appeal fell flat and McCarthy was ousted less than a month later after passing a short-term funding bill.

Comer, for his part, has ramped up his investigative work in recent weeks by releasing records of payments from Biden family members to the president.

“We’re in the downhill phase of this investigation,” Comer told right-wing podcast host Benny Johnson recently, expressing a desire to issue a final impeachment report “as soon as possible.”

But a number of key payments are classified as loan repayments from Biden to his brother James Biden. And House GOP investigators have yet to reveal any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Joe Biden, despite claims of a “smoking gun.”

What’s next: Under Johnson, a key ally of impeachment investigator and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the House is taking a more aggressive stance on the matter. The speaker indicated to Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he believes Biden has engaged in bribery — there’s no evidence quite yet. Comer repeated the bribery claim on Hannity last night.

Johnson has also signaled he’s willing to subpoena Hunter Biden to come before Congress, arguing “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Who else thinks this probe is ending in impeachment? House Republicans themselves. Hannity asked an audience of GOP lawmakers Wednesday night to raise their hands if they thought Biden would be impeached. The whole room agreed.

House Democrats say they’re waiting for more overt cues from the majority before they start intensely planning how to respond to the next steps on impeachment.

“The last two hot flashes were about how President Joe Biden, when he was a private citizen, made a private loan to his brother, which was repaid,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the panel’s top Democrat, told us. “That hardly sounds like an impeachable offense to me. I think it’s a wild goose chase in a desperate search for something to hang their hat on.”

Comer told us last month that he wasn’t likely to hold more hearings — the first one didn’t go as planned — and would instead focus on more controlled settings like transcribed interviews or depositions.

— Max Cohen

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