“I know there are like 20 Republicans who are not in favor of impeaching Biden. Mainly because what he did smells bad, it looks bad, but when you ask them what crime was committed, they can’t tell you,” said the representative. don bacon (R-Neb.), a vulnerable purple district incumbent who had raised questions about unseating Mayorkas but ultimately backed that effort.

Bacon estimated that as many as 30 House Republican lawmakers could currently oppose impeaching the president because they have seen no evidence of any wrongdoing. Private briefings to update members on the investigation have not swayed holdouts, and Republicans know it only becomes more politically risky to try to impeach Biden as an election year approaches, potentially putting him at risk. give the president a boost in the polls even if they are successful.

Supervisory Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.),
in a television interview After the party lost a special election in New York last week, he said “the math continues to get worse” for unseating Biden. However, conservatives still hope to gain new momentum with Hunter Biden’s scheduled deposition next week and a hearing in March with special counsel Robert Hur, who investigated Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.

But members across the ideological spectrum acknowledge that recommending Biden’s impeachment will be much more difficult than the previous vote on Mayorkas. They hoped that removing the Cabinet official would be an easy way to vent anger over Biden’s handling of the southern border; Instead, it became the latest warning sign that the GOP’s so-far weak case against the president is going nowhere.

Asked if House Republicans could impeach Biden after initially failing with Mayorkas, Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.) said flatly “no.” Norman, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, added that the conference “should have been 100 percent” about wanting to remove the Cabinet official.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (RN.C.), in an interview with
CBS News “The Takeout with Major Garrett” Podcast, pegged the odds of Biden’s articles of impeachment getting a floor vote as “less than 50 percent.” And speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), a member of the Oversight Committee, predicted that Republicans “aren’t going to get to a point, honestly, where we’re going to be “We can remove him, especially with the small margin we have.

To be clear, the highest-profile vote against Biden was always going to be harder for centrists to swallow unless Republican investigators could show clear evidence that the president had committed a crime. But even some Republicans on the committees leading the impeachment process privately admit they have heard little from top investigators in recent weeks as those leaders quietly conduct a series of interviews.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), an impeachment skeptic on the Judiciary Committee, said he would “listen to the evidence.” But he is one member who has recently heard nothing from investigators about Biden’s impeachment.

“How many are we going to send to the Senate?” he asked about the House GOP’s broader impeachment plans. The Senate is set to hold a brief trial against Mayorkas next week that lawmakers hope will be quickly dismissed.

All Republicans voted late last year to formalize the impeachment inquiry into Biden, a victory for Republican leadership.
That came with a pretty big warning.: Many Republicans cautioned that voting “yes” on the stopgap measure did not mean they would ultimately support impeachment. Instead, they were trying to give investigators more leverage in any legal fight over blocking records and interviews.

If Republican leaders decide to move forward, the next step would be to draft formal articles of impeachment. Republicans are expected to decide next month whether to implement them, a decision likely to be made by the president. Michael Johnson in consultation with the conference.

Something more than the harsh whip count looms over that decision. The Justice Department recently accused an FBI informant, Alexander Smirnov, that he was behind a bribery allegation that temporarily became a focal point of the House investigation last year.

According to a 2020 FBI document, Smirnov recounted what he characterized as a conversation with Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, to whom he allegedly claimed to have paid a bribe to Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, an allegation that was trumped up. according to a recent court filing from the Department of Justice.

After new details emerged about Smirnov, Republican investigators began to distance their investigation from their initial allegations. that included
remove references to FBI document of a letter they sent this week requesting an interview with a White House staffer.

Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told reporters that “it doesn’t change the fundamental facts.” And Comer, in a statement after Smirnov was charged, said the investigation “does not depend” on the 2020 FBI document summarizing Smirnov’s allegations.

“We will continue to follow the facts to propose legislation to reform federal ethics laws and determine whether articles of impeachment are justified,” Comer added.

Republican investigators have compiled thousands of pages of banking and financial records and hundreds of hours of witness interviews as they searched for evidence linking actions Joe Biden took as president or vice president to his family’s businesses. While they have uncovered many instances of members of Biden’s family using his last name to try to bolster their own influence, as well as finding loopholes in past statements by Joe Biden and the White House, they have struggled to find that proverbial smoking habit. . gun.

For example, a former associate of Hunter Biden testified that he would put Joe Biden on speakerphone during dinners, or that the now president would stop by for dinners with business associates, but he also stressed that business was not discussed at those times. Rob Walker, another former Hunter Biden associate, told investigators that Joe Biden was not involved in his business dealings.

And even while recounting how Joe Biden stopped by for lunch with business partners while out of political office in 2017, Walker characterized the appearance as an exchange of “pleasants.”

Republicans have also focused on Joe Biden’s brother, James Biden, with whom they spoke behind closed doors for hours on Wednesday. James Biden has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years due to public reporting,
even from POLITICOwhich encourages companies to hire him by promoting his ties to his brother.

But those details have not been enough to convince almost all Republicans in the House of Representatives to support impeachment, where they could only lose two votes with full attendance. Some lawmakers who ultimately relented and agreed to impeach Mayorkas warn that Republican leaders shouldn’t necessarily bet that they will do the same for Biden.

“They are two separate cases,” the representative said. David Joyce (R-Ohio) said in a brief interview. Regarding the attempted impeachment of Biden, he added: “I haven’t seen any evidence. I have heard many accusations.”

Olivia Beavers contributed reporting.

By Sam