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Comer and Jordan

The impeachment inquiry to forever

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump formally clinched their respective party’s nominations Tuesday night, setting up a long-anticipated — and for many voters, unwanted — rematch.

According to the Associated Press, Biden’s victory in Georgia put him over the top, while Trump’s wins in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington State gave him the Republican nomination for the third straight cycle.

Inside the House Republican Conference: Will the Biden impeachment inquiry ever end?

It’s the middle of March and the House Republican impeachment probe is now officially six months old. GOP investigators have interviewed Biden’s son Hunter Biden, as well as the president’s brother James Biden.

They’ve heard from the special counsel who probed Biden’s handling of classified documents. They’ve spoken to a number of key witnesses intimately involved in the business dealings of Biden’s family members. House Republican investigators have accessed “tens of thousands of pages of private financial records,” thousands of Treasury Department financial reports and “thousands of Vice Presidential-era records released by the National Archives,” according to the White House.

Yet top Republicans admit there’s still no conclusive evidence of an impeachable offense that shows Biden acted improperly while in office to enrich his family members. And no one in the House GOP leadership has a clear vision for how this all ends, including whether there will be an impeachment vote at some point.

Here’s what Speaker Mike Johnson told us when we asked him what he says to lawmakers who say it’s time to drop it or accelerate the process: “There’s a lot of thoughtful discussion going on about that and I need to get the updates.”

With Biden now having locked up the Democratic nomination, here’s some perspective on how unprecedented all this is. When House Democrats impeached former President Donald Trump over his “perfect call” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — which Republicans decried as a blatant interference in Trump’s reelection campaign — the House voted on Dec. 18, 2019. Trump’s Senate trial ended with his acquittal on Feb. 5.

The two Republican chairs running the inquiry — House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — wouldn’t say on Tuesday if they wanted to interview Biden directly or what their deadline is for finishing the investigation, releasing a report or drafting impeachment articles. Getting a Biden interview or written testimony could take weeks or even months of negotiations. The White House hasn’t received any request from Republicans for an interview, we’re told.

In a sign of the confusion surrounding the inquiry, former Oversight Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — who serves on the Judiciary Committee — told us he has no clear sense of where the impeachment inquiry is going. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), another Judiciary Republican, also expressed the same sentiment.

“If [impeachment] is a messaging of his wrongdoing, then let’s be honest, and say that we’re impeaching him as a message,” Issa said. “I don’t think we’ve been able to convince the other side of the aisle that as [Richard] Nixon needed to go, this man needs to go.”

For now, Comer and Jordan said they’re focusing on the March 20 hearing where Hunter Biden and his former business associates are invited to testify. But Hunter Biden still hasn’t confirmed that he’ll appear for that session.

Jordan also told us he’s waiting on testimony from two DOJ tax attorneys who looked into the Hunter Biden case, as well as another interview with former Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf. Comer wants access to more “pseudonym emails” between Biden and his son Hunter.

“After this public hearing, then we’ll see where we are,” Comer said. “But I would love to wrap it up.”

Most House Republicans understand that they haven’t found evidence that Biden is guilty of any high crimes and misdemeanors. And most Republicans privately admit they’ll never be able to pass an impeachment resolution with their razor-thin majority. In fact, House GOP leaders worry that one of their conservative hardliners could offer impeachment articles on their own against Biden as a privileged resolution only to see it fail, giving the president a big political win.

“I do believe we need to bring this to a conclusion,” Issa told us.

One House Republican leadership aide said this: “Jordan and Comer are becoming the chairmen who cried wolf, promising there’s a ‘there’ there over and over again and producing nothing anywhere close to an impeachable offense.”

But other GOP lawmakers insist Johnson and Republican leaders have plenty of time to make a decision on impeachment while they focus on priorities like finishing the FY2024 spending bills, Ukraine, FISA and FAA reauthorization, plus myriad other issues.

“We have a two-year term on the session,” Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said. “We have no deadline on anything until you get to noon on Tuesday in January 2025, right?”

Democrats, for their part, are calling on Republicans to end the inquiry in the wake of former Special Counsel Robert Hur’s testimony.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told us this:

— Max Cohen, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.