GOP presidential candidates spar over calls to impeach Biden for alleged meddling in Hunter investigation

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley faced criticism from a fellow GOP presidential candidate after calling for the impeachment of President Biden over whistleblower claims there was intentional federal interference in the probe targeting his son Hunter.

"Somebody needs to do it," Haley told Fox News' Greg Gutfeld when asked about Congress potentially seeking to impeach Biden over the allegations as he ramps up his campaign for re-election next cycle. "If the Justice Department’s not going to do it, Congress should do it. But somebody needs to do it. It smells bad all day long.

"You’re not talking about just some guy that showed up and decided to say something," Haley added, suggesting the whistleblower was a credible source.

While the presidential candidate believes immediate action should be taken against Biden, GOP candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also in the running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, said "impeachment should not be used as a political weapon."


IRS Special Agent Gary Shapley Jr., supervisor of the Hunter Biden investigation at the IRS, revealed that during the investigation into the president's son, "we weren’t allowed to ask about ‘the big guy,'" referring to a prohibition on asking witnesses questions. 

Numerous reports suggest Hunter Biden referred to his father as "the big guy" in communications.

Shapley also conveyed the information in testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, where he noted Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors purposely chose not to obtain search warrants related to Hunter Biden.


"While the whistleblower allegations are serious and must be investigated, impeachment should not be an option until the investigation shows corrupt action by the president," Hutchinson said in a press release Friday reacting to Haley's statement. 

The Republican argued a "thorough investigation" should be conducted before there are calls for impeachment.

"Impeachment should not be used as a political weapon but reserved for serious wrongdoing," Hutchinson said. "The facts should determine what action, if any, Congress should take, and impeachment should not precede a thorough investigation." 

A spokesman for Haley's campaign reiterated the former U.N. ambassador's position. 

"Nikki believes Congress needs to get to the bottom of whether Joe Biden committed crimes or other impeachable offenses since the Justice Department refuses to do it. That process starts with a congressional oversight investigation," said Haley spokesman Ken Farnaso.

Wyn Hornbuckle, deputy director of the Justice Department Office of Public Affairs, immediately denied Shapley's shocking claims regarding the investigation.

"As both the attorney general and U.S. Attorney David Weiss have said, U.S. Attorney Weiss has full authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when and whether to file charges as he deems appropriate," Hornbuckle said in a statement. "He needs no further approval to do so." 

The whistleblower came out after Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax and a separate charge for possessing a firearm while acting as an unlawful user and addict of a controlled substance.

Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Impeachment once again looms large in Congress

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., don’t get along.

But if House Republicans try to impeach President Biden or a roster of other Biden cabinet officials in the coming months, a look at how Pelosi handled impeachment questions deserves attention.

Rewind the calendar to 2007. Democrats flipped control of the House in the 2006 midterms. Pelosi faced a wall of pressure from liberal Democrats to impeach President George W. Bush over the war in Iraq.

Pelosi resisted those calls. "Impeachment is off the table," Pelosi said at the time.


But Pelosi had a plan to wind down the U.S. commitment overseas. Pelosi instructed then-Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wisc., to start diminishing spending available for the war effort. Control of the purse strings is the ultimate power in Congress. Pelosi and Obey didn’t want to cut off troops in the field. But the plan was to dial back funding so the U.S. would leave Iraq sooner rather than later. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2019.


Pelosi had resisted calls to impeach former President Donald Trump for years over a host of transgressions. Pelosi often reminded House Democrats and her members she supported an investigation of alleged misdeeds and would "follow the facts" wherever they may lead.

Democrats were disappointed in information provided at a summer 2019 hearing with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller was coy during his testimony and failed to produce a smoking gun. But some lawmakers observed that Mueller may have left a breadcrumb of clues in his report investigating Trump: impeachment may be an option.

Still, Democrats were reluctant to go there — even though many wanted to do so.

In fact, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, regularly launched efforts to try to impeach former President Trump. While many Democrats admired Green’s gusto, they viewed his effort as an unserious sideshow.

Pelosi wouldn’t let the House be a part of such a carnival.

That was until word came of the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Information surfaced that Mr. Trump may have delayed sending previously-approved assistance to Ukraine. But he first pressured Zelenskyy to launch investigations of President Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

No love was lost between the former president and Pelosi. But Pelosi was often a master of understanding where the votes might be on a given issue. She was also mindful of protecting her members from taking a tough vote. Pelosi didn’t appear ready for impeachment yet. Certainly after Mueller’s appearance. But the Trump/Zelenskyy phone call was another matter.

In mid-September 2019, a coalition of seven Democratic freshmen House members penned an op-ed in The Washington Post. They wrote that if the allegations against Trump were true, they would consider it "an impeachable offense."


All seven authors flipped districts from Republican to Democratic control in the 2018 midterms. The seven had serious national security credentials. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., served in the Army. Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., worked for the CIA. Three served in the Navy: Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., along with former Reps. Elaine Luria, D-Va., and Gil Cisneros, D-Calif. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., was in the Air Force.

The op-ed signaled to Pelosi that centrist, Democratic freshmen from battleground districts were willing to potentially impeach the president. The speaker had protected them and others from what could become a career-defining vote. Pelosi greenlighted a formal impeachment inquiry a few days after the op-ed. The House voted on Halloween to design the ground rules for an impeachment inquiry. And just before Christmas, the House voted to impeach Trump again.

The Pelosi-led House moved to impeach Trump just hours after the Capitol riot in January, 2021.

The measure went to the floor swiftly — lacking the weeks and months of hearings which were a feature of the former president's first impeachment. In fact, the House impeached Trump days before his term expired.

Pelosi didn’t hold back on impeaching Trump that time because she had the votes. She also wanted to impeach him while he was still in office.

What is past is prologue.

McCarthy may have temporarily circumvented an immediate push by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., to impeach President Biden before the House abandoned Washington for the July Fourth recess. But this is far from the last time we will see or hear about this debate.


And the stark reality is that it may very well wind up in an eventual impeachment of President Biden.

Here are several scenarios which could unfold over the next few months:

The Judiciary and Homeland Security committees are already probing alleged misdeeds of Biden. Boebert’s resolution specifically calls for impeachment of the president because of how he’s dealt with the border. The House voted to send Boebert’s resolution to those panels, preventing an immediate up/down vote on impeachment on the floor. 

Watch to see how these committees move. If they amp things up, the House could be headed toward a true impeachment inquiry. That ultimately could result in an impeachment vote later this year. However, it is unclear if the House actually has the votes to impeach Biden.

By contrast, the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees could do nothing with the referral of Boebert’s impeachment resolution. Boebert indicated she’d force the issue on the floor again. This is a little like Al Green’s repeated efforts to impeach Trump. But if Boebert presses the issue, McCarthy could lack the ammo to again sidestep a direct confrontation over impeachment. 

That likely means Boebert reintroduces her special resolution to impeach Biden. Either the House votes on that or tables it. A straight vote on impeachment causes big problems among Republicans. Some conservatives truly want to impeach the president. Others like to talk about impeachment but don’t really want to tangle with it. Still, other GOPers see impeachment as political kryptonite and want to stay as far away from it as possible. Forcing a vote actually on an issue as explosive as impeachment ignites a GOP firestorm. Of course, voting to table it triggers a political maelstrom among a different set of GOP factions.

Here's another possibility: The committees actually shelve the impeachment effort. The committees might address the impeachment question and conduct investigations. But some Republicans already view the move to send the Boebert plan to committee as an effort to euthanize the enterprise. Some Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief. Others will go nuclear — perhaps against the speaker.

The bottom line: While not yet a formal "impeachment inquiry," the committees have wide latitude to truly investigate allegations which could be potentially worthy of impeachment. The vote to send the Boebert impeachment resolution to committee may have been a fig leaf. But chances are that the House must address impeachment for President of the United States in some form later this year.

As we speak, there are various Republicans who hope to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves.

In an interview with Fox about impeaching Garland, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., noted that "Kevin McCarthy is not against impeachment at all." Greene observed that "if we’re going to do it, it needs to be successful."

In other words, just don’t deposit a privileged impeachment resolution on the floor and expect members to vote on it, al a Boebert or Al Green.

"The speaker of the House, whether it’s Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy or anyone … they want to make sure that they have the votes to pass it," said Greene.

That’s a calculus McCarthy may need to figure in the coming months — be it for Biden or the host of other figures listed above.

Pelosi moved the impeachments for Trump once she was confident she had the votes. But McCarthy only has a four-seat majority. It’s far from clear how he’ll handle similar impeachment calls on his watch.

Oversight Dems argue GOP overlooked information undercutting Biden allegation

A Ukrainian oligarch who ran the energy company that hired Hunter Biden to serve on its board told associates of Rudy Giuliani that Burisma never had any contacts with then-Vice President Biden while his son worked at the company.

The conversation with Mykola Zlochevsky, part of the package of information received by lawmakers during former President Trump’s first impeachment, was highlighted by the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee as evidence undercutting a GOP-led probe into an alleged bribery scheme.

“Mr. Zlochevsky’s statements are just one of the many that have debunked the corruption allegations against President Biden that were first leveled by Rudy Giuliani and have been reviewed by former President Trump’s own Justice Department,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.).

The clash between the panel’s two parties rests on a series of unverified tips.

Under the Trump administration, the FBI and Justice Department were unable to corroborate a tip from a confidential source relaying a conversation heard secondhand that alleged Biden, while vice president, accepted a bribe. Comer has based much of his investigation on this tip, memorized in a FD-1023 form used by the FBI to document such interactions.

Raskin’s letter resurfaces a conversation with Zlochevsky — one arranged through a series of Giuliani associates in which the oligarch speaks of his decision to hire Hunter Biden.

“No one from Burisma ever had any contacts with VP Biden or people working for him during Hunter Biden's engagement,” Zlochevsky says in the exchange, which appears to be with Vitaly Pruss, whom the letter describes as “another long-time associate of Mr. Giuliani who was a close friend of Mr. Zlochevsky.”

However, the conversation was turned over to Giuliani by Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian who was later convicted of making illegal campaign contributions to former President Trump. 

Zlochevsky also answered “no” when asked if then-Vice President Biden or his staff “assisted you or your company in any way with business deals or meetings with world leaders or any other assistance.”

Raskin argues the information shows that Zlochevsky “squarely rebutted” allegations that are at the core of the GOP probe.

“As part of the impeachment inquiry against then-President Trump, Congress learned that Mr. Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian oligarch and the owner of Burisma, whom Republican Committee Members appear to have identified as the source of the allegations memorialized in the Form FD-1023, squarely rebutted these allegations in 2019,” he wrote.

“Despite being interviewed as part of a campaign by Mr. Giuliani and his proxies in 2019 and 2020 to procure damaging information about the Biden family, Mr. Zlochevsky explicitly and unequivocally denied those allegations.”

Raskin, however, also pointed to comments from Trump-era Attorney General Bill Barr that there "are a lot of agendas in the Ukraine, there are a lot of cross-currents, and we can’t take anything we receive from the Ukraine at face value.”

Comer has called on the FBI to release the form that lawmakers reviewed in a secure location weeks ago.

“If Ranking Member Raskin thinks there is nothing to the FD-1023 form, then he should join us in calling on the FBI to make it public,” Comer said.

“This unclassified record stands on its own and memorializes a confidential human source’s conversations with a Burisma executive dating back to 2015. The Burisma executive claims then-Vice President Biden solicited and received a $5 million bribe in exchange for certain actions.” 

In the conversation, Zlochevsky also says that they never asked Hunter Biden to make any outreach to the State Department.

“We never approved or asked him to conduct those meetings on behalf of Burisma,” he says.

Still, he makes clear that Hunter Biden’s hiring, as well as that of his former business partner Devon Archer, was part of an effort to help strengthen ties between Burisma and the international community.

“We wanted to [b]uild Burisma as international company. It was very important to have strong board. So when we review resumes of biden and archer they both had great resumes. We also thought it would help in Ukraine to have strong international board figures with great relationships in the United States and Europe,” Zlochevsky says.

“We believe it was worth it. It had it own advantages and disadvantages. But it general we believe our company benefited greatly from this relationship.”

GOP divided on first impeachment target

The growing zeal among House Republicans to launch impeachment proceedings has hit an early snag: There's no agreement on which Biden administration figure to target.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this week threw his support behind a possible impeachment inquiry into Attorney General Merrick Garland — just days after the GOP conference sparred internally over a resolution from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) to impeach President Biden.

And a possible Biden impeachment came on the heels of an announcement from House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) that the panel would kick off the formal investigation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas needed to proceed with an impeachment inquiry.

Since the GOP takeover of the House, much of the impeachment energy has been focused on Mayorkas, with disagreements over the border fueling several impeachment resolutions in the weeks after lawmakers were sworn in.

But a drop in border crossings in recent months has largely taken the issue out of the national headlines, while at the same time, new accusations surrounding the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation into Hunter Biden have heightened the GOP’s outrage at Garland. It was the latter issue that prompted this week’s surprise statement from McCarthy. 

“If the whistleblowers' allegations are true, this will be a significant part of a larger impeachment inquiry into Merrick Garland's weaponization of DOJ,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter.

In May and June alone, lawmakers introduced 11 different impeachment resolutions for top Biden officials, five of them sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). Aside from Biden, Garland and Mayorkas, Greene also has her sights on FBI Director Christopher Wray and Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. 

But until recently, McCarthy in many respects had pumped the brakes on some of the conference’s loudest impeachment cheerleaders.

He’s repeatedly said impeachment can’t be seen as a political endeavor and, as recently as Friday, said that any efforts have “got to reach the constitutional level of impeachment.”

Mayorkas targeted initially 

In a trip to the border late last year, widely expected to be a warning shot that Republicans would kick off an impeachment of Mayorkas, McCarthy instead called for his resignation and signaled any plans to boot the secretary would be part of a lengthy process.

“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate; every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said last November.

But he’s facing impatience from far-right members of the conference, many with hopes of playing a central role in any impeachment efforts, which would quickly devour the political oxygen in Washington and command the national media spotlight.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) who introduced the first Mayorkas impeachment resolution last year but trailed another such bill this year, said it's not clear when such a measure would move forward or whose name would be on it.

“I introduced mine first — and then I introduced it forth again. … I’ve probably ticked off the leadership too much for them to allow mine to be the one, to be the vehicle. But I still think mine is most comprehensive,” he said.

“I don't know if we'll introduce a new one or just try to amend this one as it moves forward. But I just think that more and more people are starting to come around to the necessity to impeach the guy.”

Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), who introduced the first Mayorkas impeachment articles this year, would also like to be involved.

“I was the first one out of the gate, but I don't really care. You know, success has 1,000 fathers,” he said.

“I’d like to lead the effort, but even if I could just be a lieutenant of someone who does if it's not me, I’m perfectly content with that as well. Because we are a team — we're supposed to be, the 222 of us — and I definitely think he needs to be replaced.”

Border issues draw attention to Biden

The Mayorkas bills have been complicated by Boebert’s resolution, which House Republicans voted to refer to the House Homeland Security Committee, as well as House Judiciary, for consideration. 

Green has been steadfastly focused on Mayorkas, earlier this month laying out a five-phase plan for an investigation into the secretary. Those findings would be turned over to leaders of the Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who would then decide how to move forward.

Though Boebert’s resolution, like those focused on Mayorkas, deems impeachment a fitting response for what Republicans see as a mishandling the border, Democrats have dismissed the plan as trying to boot someone from office over a policy disagreement rather than high crimes and misdemeanors.

It also means a shift for the House Homeland Security Committee, which must now wrap Biden into an investigation that had been squarely focused on the effects of specific border policies carried out by Mayorkas's department. 

“We kicked off this five-phase investigation digging into what I believe is Mayorkas’s failures. We just started the ‘dereliction of duty’ phase a week ago. We've had a committee hearing, we've had two subcommittee hearings, we’re doing our transcribed interviews with all the sector chiefs and things like this,” Green told The Hill.

“Now, the House has obviously asked us to add Biden's actions to the stuff that we're looking into. We'll do that for sure.” 

Boebert’s resolution is just one of five pertaining to Biden, and it's not clear how quickly it may advance, if at all.

“I would hope that it would be this year — and very soon,” Boebert told reporters last week. 

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), who also has a resolution to impeach Mayorkas, stressed that the founders intentionally set a high bar for its usage.

“I believe they should go through thorough and proper, vigorous debate to assigned committees,” he said. 

“The founders established the highest thresholds for impeachment, and intended it to be almost impossible to impeach a president and very difficult to impeach a secretary.”

Hunter Biden’s case takes over 

The border issues that would serve as the basis for either a Mayorkas or Biden impeachment have taken a back seat recently to news that Hunter Biden agreed to a plea deal in connection with an investigation into his failure to pay taxes.

The crux of the matter for the GOP is a whistleblower complaint to the House Ways and Means Committee, where IRS investigator Gary Shapley claimed the investigation was slow-walked by the office of U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump appointee assigned to the matter under the former president.

Shapley said Weiss’s office relayed they were told they could not bring charges in D.C., where he believes the strongest case could be had regarding Hunter Biden’s tax evasion. He alleged that Graves, the U.S. attorney for D.C., would not allow Weiss to bring charges in his district.

Weiss, Garland and Graves have all countered Shapley’s testimony.

“I want to make clear that, as the Attorney General has stated, I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges,” Weiss told House Judiciary members in a June letter.

Garland went further, saying critiques on the Hunter Biden investigation undermined faith in the department.

“I certainly understand that some have chosen to attack the integrity of the Justice Department, and its components, and its employees, by claiming that we do not treat like cases alike. This constitutes an attack on an institution that is essential to American democracy and essential to the safety of the American people. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Garland said Friday.

“You've all heard me say many times that we make our cases based on the facts and the law. These are not just words. These are what we live by.” 

Mike Lillis contributed.

McCarthy races to repair relationship with Trump

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is racing to mend fences with former President Trump after the GOP leader questioned Trump’s strength as a 2024 presidential contender — a comment he quickly walked back amid blowback from Trump world.

The Speaker’s cleanup effort — which has so far included a direct call to Trump, a subsequent media interview declaring Trump to be the strongest candidate, and an email blast to would-be donors amplifying that message — has illustrated the political dangers facing GOP leaders as they seek to balance Trump’s vast popularity against the baggage of his legal and ethical travails heading into the elections.

McCarthy’s scramble also reflects the influence Trump continues to wield among Republicans in the House, where more than 60 GOP lawmakers have already endorsed him in the presidential primary.

And it’s highlighted the fragile relationship between Trump and McCarthy, who needed the support of the former president to win the Speaker’s gavel in January and wants to remain in Trump’s good graces amid an internal battle with GOP hard-liners still wary of McCarthy’s commitment to conservative priorities.

More House coverage from The Hill

All of those factors appeared to collide during an interview with CNBC on Tuesday morning, when McCarthy — while noting that Trump can beat Biden in 2024 — said he was unsure if the former president was the “strongest” candidate to do so, sparking pushback from some on the right and reportedly angering those in the former president's orbit.

McCarthy quickly entered cleanup mode. Within hours, he had told the conservative Breitbart News in an interview that “Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016,” sent out sent out fundraising blasts that declared Trump “Biden’s strongest opponent” and, according to The New York Times, placed a call to Trump for a conversation that sources characterized as an apology.

The stunning episode — which played out in less than 24 hours — highlights the delicate balancing act McCarthy is forced to perform when it comes to matters involving Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner who helped him secure the Speaker’s gavel in January and still holds a firm grip on much of the House Republican conference.

But whether or not McCarthy’s efforts Wednesday were enough to land him back in Trump’s good graces remains to be seen.

Politico reported Wednesday that Trump’s team — which is known for controlling who is allowed to raise money off the ex-president’s name — asked McCarthy to remove his fundraising pitch that mentioned Trump, a blast that was part of his damage control.

Trump himself, however, has not yet commented on McCarthy’s 180.

A Trump-world source acknowledged there was “certainly annoyance” with McCarthy’s comment on CNBC but added that Trump was “pleased” with the Speaker’s Breitbart interview, suggesting that reports of severe tensions were exaggerated.

“I think some of this has been overblown. While there was certainly annoyance over his comment, it wasn’t lost on people that the bulk of the interview was McCarthy defending Trump, and most importantly, Trump himself was pleased with the interview McCarthy gave Breitbart yesterday,” the source said.

Sign up for the latest from The Hill here

Congressional Republicans also sought to downplay the rift.

Rep. Ken Buck (Colo.), one of the GOP lawmakers who revolted against Republican House leadership earlier this month, suggested that McCarthy meant it would be difficult to name Trump the strongest candidate now, when the Republican field is still developing.

“Does another candidate rise and show that sort of personality, that sort of strength of character that he would be willing to take on the swamp? That’s yet to be seen. And I think that’s what Kevin was saying, is this is a long time that we’re gonna see between now and the primary elections,” Buck told CNN in an interview Tuesday night.

“And so it’s hard to say that Donald Trump is gonna be the strongest candidate in the future. It’s really a hypothetical and calls for speculation. But right now, Donald Trump is definitely the strongest candidate,” he added.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.)

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) arrives for an event at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. (Greg Nash)

Like McCarthy himself, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — a close ally of both Trump and the Speaker — pinned the conflict on the media, accusing reporters of blowing GOP divisions out of proportion.

“The media’s specialty is dividing Republicans. It’s time for Republicans to stop being sucked into playing the dumb game. Defeat the Democrat’s America Last agenda and save America,” Greene wrote on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Democrats, for their part, see McCarthy’s backtrack as more evidence of the strong influence Trump has on the Speaker and his GOP conference.

“Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, they control the Republican Party and, you know, you can see it every day,” Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) told The Hill on Wednesday. “Kevin McCarthy can barely hold on to his Speakership, and so he is going to, you know, bow down to whatever Donald Trump wants him to do — I mean, you saw a good example of that in that back-and-forth.”

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.)

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) speaks during a Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs hearing with a quotation from the Office of the Inspector General behind him at the Capitol on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

The relationship between Trump and McCarthy has been complicated since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, for which Trump was impeached. McCarthy, then the House minority leader, voted against that impeachment but also accused Trump of bearing “responsibility” for the rampage.

Yet when most Republicans, including those in Congress, made clear they were sticking behind Trump, McCarthy quickly reversed course, visiting Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida a few weeks later to patch things up — a recognition that he needed Trump’s support to rise to the Speakership. 

The more recent squabble between Trump and McCarthy comes after somewhat of a honeymoon period between the two top Republicans.

Shortly after McCarthy secured the speaker’s gavel in January — following a 15-ballot vote — the California Republican thanked Trump for helping him win the top job, telling reporters, “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence.”

In a now-infamous photo, Greene is seen handing a phone on a call with “DT” to Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), one of McCarthy’s detractors.

And earlier this month, when McCarthy struck a deal with Biden to raise the debt limit, Trump did not join other conservatives in criticizing the deal — as other 2024 GOP candidates did — sparing McCarthy from the challenge of wrangling enough votes amid Trump's opposition.

McCarthy, meanwhile, has appeared to pay back the favor in his first six months as Speaker, catering to Trump’s best interests on a number of occasions.

His committee chairmen launched an investigation into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after he indicted Trump, requested information from special counsel Jack Smith as he closed in on his own charges and, just last week, McCarthy endorsed an effort to expunge Trump’s first and second impeachments.

“It should never have gone through,” he said of both impeachment votes. 

Brett Samuels contributed.

Science! Study Finds Conservative Women Are More Attractive Than Liberals And All We Can Say Is – Duh

Conservative women have more attractive faces than their liberal counterparts, according to a Danish study published earlier this year.

Danish and Swedish researchers used “deep learning” artificial intelligence to assess identifiable features such as masculinity and attractiveness in a study of over 3,000 Danish politicians.

“Politicians on the right have been found to be more attractive than those on the left,” they observed.

Those traits were well-defined in female politicians. They note that conservative women’s faces appeared “happier” while faces that showed “contempt” were correlated to left-wing ideology.

“These results are credible given that previous research using human raters has also highlighted a link between attractiveness and conservatism,” the study’s authors explained.

RELATED: Power Women – The Most Attractive Republican Ladies

Conservative Women Are More Attractive

I mean, it’s always good to have scientific data to back it up, but this study is telling us something we can readily see with our eyes.

Who needs artificial intelligence when we’ve all driven past that car with the Biden/Harris bumper sticker, looked at the driver, and said, ‘Yea, she looks exactly as I expected.’

But good on them to confirm the data points using AI, heat maps, facial expression coding, and such. I tend to trust the scientists behind this study a lot more than those that push global warming and vaccine hoaxes.

RELATED: Florida Republican Threatened Trump-Backed Candidate Luna With Russian ‘Hit Squad,’ Secret Recording Shows

Politicians on the Right Are More Beautiful

The “previous research” backing up their findings includes a link to a 2017 study that concluded: “Politicians on the right look more beautiful in Europe, the U.S., and Australia.”

That study, published in the Journal of Public Economics, found “voters use beauty as a cue for conservatism.” That revelation has all sorts of implications, doesn’t it?

The Political Insider published a list of the most attractive GOP women in 2022. That list included:

  • Anna Paulina Luna
  • Lauren Boebert
  • Kristi Noem
  • Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard, though not a Republican, recently left the Democrat Party and has showcased rather conservative views in the time since.

Meanwhile, Boebert and Luna have been more than just hot – they’ve been on fire of late, championing conservatism in ways that make them even more attractive.

Boebert recently became the first House Republican in 24 years to initiate impeachment proceedings against a sitting President. She managed to leverage a procedural tool last month to force a vote on an impeachment resolution.

Republicans managed to sideline the measure but you just know she’s going to keep fighting.

Luna vowed to go after California Democrat Adam Schiff, introducing a resolution for his role in promoting the Trump-Russia collusion hoax.

POLL: Are conservatives hotter than liberals?

By voting, you agree to receive email communication from The Political Insider. Click HERE for more information.

It took a couple of tries due to weak-kneed Republicans unwilling to fine Schiff for his lies, but Luna’s censure effort eventually passed and he became just the third lawmaker in 40 years to suffer such a public rebuke.

It doesn’t take artificial intelligence to recognize that these women are pretty hot conservatives.

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
The Political Insider ranks #3 on Feedspot’s “100 Best Political Blogs and Websites.”

The post Science! Study Finds Conservative Women Are More Attractive Than Liberals And All We Can Say Is – Duh appeared first on The Political Insider.

Trump Plans To Bypass Congress And Starve ‘The Deep State’

By Philip Wegmann for RealClearWire

Sources close to former President Trump say he has a plan for keeping Congress from ever again forcing him into “disgraceful” and “ridiculous” spending situations. If he returns to the White House, Trump will seek to resurrect authority that Congress stripped from the presidency almost a half century ago.

What President Nixon squandered, his campaign promises, Trump will restore, namely the impoundment power. “A lot of you,” the former president told a New Hampshire crowd Thursday, “don’t know what that is.” Indeed, few now remember it.

Impoundment, if restored, would allow a president, in theory, to simply refuse to spend appropriations by Congress. More than just an avenue to cut spending, Trump sees that kind of authority as key to starving, and thus crushing, the so-called “deep state.”

But such a move would fundamentally alter the balance of power, and any effort to restore the long-forgotten authority virtually guarantees a protracted legal battle over who exactly controls the power of the purse. Trump welcomes that fight. Some budget experts believe he won’t get anywhere.

Regardless, advisors close to the former president tell RealClearPolitics they are drawing up plans to challenge the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act in court, and if that fails, to lean on the legislature to repeal it. The latter would require passing a law to surrender power, something lawmakers are loath to do.

Congress already went to war with another president who had expansive views of his own authority. And Congress won.

Inflation in the 1970s, the Nixon White House complained, was the result of a profligate “Credit Card Congress.” The California Republican warned Capitol Hill not to spend in excess of $250 billion. When his warning was ignored, Nixon simply refused to spend the appropriated money. A rebuke from the Supreme Court followed when the president impounded funding for environmental projects. But weakened by Watergate, Nixon eventually signed legislation effectively surrendering a power that had been exercised from the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson to Lyndon B. Johnson.

Russ Vought, Trump’s last director of the Office of Management and Budget, calls the concession of impoundment power “the original sin” that ensured “the executive branch no longer plays a meaningful role” in the appropriations process. Vought told RCP in an interview that the power of the purse has become “caricature,” where rather than “setting ceilings,” Congress now sets “spending floors.”

Hence, Trump’s “unhappy” signature on multiple multi trillion-dollar spending bills.

Trump promised he would “never sign another bill like this again” before putting his signature on a “crazy” $1.3 trillion spending bill in 2018. Two years later, he signed another omnibus bill, this one worth $1.4 trillion, that he called “disgraceful.” Both times, Trump justified voting for the bloated bills conservatives loathed by pointing to increased military spending.

Restoring impoundment authority, thus giving presidents an option to curb spending beyond just the veto, current Trump campaign and former Trump administration officials tell RCP that was part of the plan for a second term that never came.

Related: Trump Responds To Those Hoping He’ll Drop Out Of Race: ‘I’ll Never Leave’

The former president said he believes the 1974 law that gutted impoundment is unconstitutional, and if returned to the White House, would govern accordingly.

“Yes, there’s the effort to have it overturned in courts. Yes, there is the legislative effort, but when you think that a law is unconstitutional,” Vought told RCP, the administration ought to look “to do the bare minimum of what the courts have required,” and “to push the envelope.”

Trump did something like this, exercising what Vought called “impoundment-like authorities,” when he froze nearly $400 million in foreign aid to Ukraine, even though the funds were congressionally appropriated. The Government Accountability Office later said that in doing so, Trump violated the law. He was impeached by the House over a phone call to Ukrainian President Zelensky concerning the money.

Trump’s OMB disputed the GAO ruling at the time, saying the administration was simply its apportionment authority to spend the money according to the most efficient timetable.

“The reason why there wasn’t an impoundment was because we did not have the authority just to pocket the money and not spend it,” Vought recalled, saying that if a new paradigm was in place, the administration “potentially would have had the ability to go further and pocket the money.”

Trump believes impoundment would be “a crucial tool” in his fight with the administrative state. “Bringing back impoundment will give us a crucial tool with which to obliterate the Deep State, Drain the Swamp, and starve the Warmongers,” he said in campaign video first obtained and reported by Semafor. “We can simply choke off the money.”

His campaign pointed RCP to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, an entity that House Republicans allege has been involved in censorship of Americans, as a prime example of where dollars could be impounded.

But even some conservatives have their doubts. Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said that when it comes to cutting spending appropriated money after the fact, there “is a limited amount of wiggle room.”

“The idea that a president is going to achieve any sort of significant savings or reduction in the size of the administrative state by exercising impoundment authorities is patently ludicrous,” Kosar told RCP.

Related: Spineless: Only One GOP Candidate Vowed To Pardon Trump – And It Wasn’t Ron DeSantis

The policy wonk agrees that the reform Nixon signed into law, mandating a complex and cumbersome budgeting process, seldom works. But without repealing and replacing that law, he said, “a president flat out refusing to spend money that was clearly appropriated for a particular purpose, saying he just doesn’t want to do it, pretty much would be grounds for impeachment.”

Linda Bilmes, an assistant secretary at the Department of Commerce during the Clinton administration, agrees that the current budget process “has become so dysfunctional that it is very ripe for reforms.”

Now a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she points to the partisan gridlock and numerous government shutdowns that are a feature of the current process. “The number of shutdowns in the entirety of U.S. history before 1974,” Bilmes said in an interview with RCP, “was zero.”

Congress has been kicking around ideas for some time on how to reform the way they spend taxpayer money. Lawmakers consistently fail to pass individual appropriation bills, opting instead to approve spending all at once with a single bill, usually at the end of year and the last minute.

Even if the process is reformed, however, Bilmes said that “the basic premise of the law, which is that the Constitution provides Congress with the ultimate authority, is very unlikely to change.”

She added that although she disagrees with the idea that reducing the national debt requires gutting the Impoundment Act, there is a recent precedent for taming runaway spending. Bilmes pointed RCP to the agreements hammered out between Bill Clinton and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1990s. That is possible again. In theory.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

The post Trump Plans To Bypass Congress And Starve ‘The Deep State’ appeared first on The Political Insider.

Texas lawmakers focus on property taxes in second special legislative session

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called state lawmakers into a second special legislative session Tuesday with no talks of border security and immigration on the agenda, just hours after the first one wrapped up with the Republican-led Legislature in a stalemate over property taxes.

Abbott’s first special session agenda focused on property taxes and border security. It ended Tuesday afternoon with no deals on either issue and bitter disagreement among the chambers on how to cut property taxes and by how much.

The third legislative session of 2023 continues a series of rough patches for the GOP in America’s most populous red state, most notably with the impeachment of Republican Attorney General, Ken Paxton. Paxton is to be tried in the Texas Senate in September.


Abbott further tightened the agenda for the second round to only property taxes, adding that he'll keep calling lawmakers to the Capitol "until property tax cut legislation reaches my desk."

Although the governor can add agenda items later in the 30-day special session, the second session's agenda marks at least a temporary pivot away from immigration and border security issues that have flared again nationally ahead of the 2024 election.


On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the Texas-Mexico border to unveil an immigration policy proposal — his first as a 2024 presidential contender — that included ending birthright citizenship and completing a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, among other GOP immigration priorities. He also echoed Abbott's claims of an "invasion" along the southern border.

"I think the state of Texas has the right to declare an invasion," DeSantis, a Republican, told an audience member at an event in Eagle Pass on Monday.

During the state's regular biennial session, which ended May 29, Texas lawmakers allocated over $5 billion for border security. Days later, Abbott unveiled a new initiative — floating marine barriers that will be deployed at "hotspots along the Rio Grande River."

According to a June announcement from Abbott's office, the first 1,000 of the water-based border security device will be deployed near Eagle Pass — the same region where nine migrants died while attempting to cross the river in September.

McCarthy feels the heat as frustrated conservatives grow more aggressive

Six months into the new Congress, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is increasingly bending to the demands of the conservative fringe of his GOP conference, a dynamic highlighted this week by his surprise threat to impeach U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The Speaker has, to an extent, been successful in disarming his conservative detractors through the first half of the year, winning their support in January’s race for the gavel and sidelining them more recently in adopting must-pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

But frustrated conservatives are getting more aggressive, threatening to tank federal funding bills and risk a government shutdown while pushing harder to force the impeachment votes GOP leaders have sought to avoid. 

The dynamics reflect the bald political reality of governing with a tiny and restive House majority, one in which the conservative distrust of the Speaker runs deep and GOP leaders have little room for defections when their legislative priorities come to the floor. 

The result has been that McCarthy is compelled, more and more, to act on the demands of the small but pugnacious group of conservative firebrands who have threatened his Speakership from the first days of January and are vowing to exert their leverage to obtain their legislative objectives.

“I am maybe not on his Christmas card list,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), former head of the far-right Freedom Caucus, of his antagonistic relationship with the Speaker.

McCarthy has gradually responded to the conservative demands simply by conceding to them. 

In recent weeks, the Speaker has catered to his right flank by targeting next year’s spending at levels below those outlined in the bipartisan debt limit deal. He’s endorsed a resolution to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) after an initial vote splintered the GOP. He’s swallowed a vote to impeach President Biden — even if only to punt the issue to committee.

He’s championed resolutions to expunge the two impeachments of former President Trump. And most recently, he’s adopted a harder line on the ouster of cabinet officials, like Garland.

“If the allegations from the IRS whistleblowers are proven true through House Republican investigations, we will begin an impeachment inquiry on Biden's Attorney General, Merrick Garland,” McCarthy tweeted Tuesday

That position is a major shift for the Speaker, who has been cold to the idea of rushing into impeachments this year, warning against politicizing the process and arguing for the conclusion of congressional investigations before launching any impeachment proceedings. But impatient conservatives have other ideas. 

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) last week forced the vote on Biden’s impeachment and is threatening to bring it to the floor again if the committees of jurisdiction don’t act quickly enough for her liking. 

“I would hope that it would be this year — and very soon,” Boebert said as Congress left Washington last week for a long July Fourth recess.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has introduced impeachment articles targeting at least four administration officials, including Biden and Garland, and is warning she’ll use special procedures to fast-track those bills to the floor. 

And Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said this week Garland might be just the start.

“It’s hard to keep up with it all,” Roy told WMAL radio on Monday

“We gotta look into [Alejandro] Mayorkas,” he continued, referring to the Homeland Security secretary. “We gotta look into Biden himself. We gotta look into Hunter Biden. … The American people deserve an administration that is not above the law and lawless.”

Even more pressing than impeachment has been the internal GOP battle over deficit spending. McCarthy, as one of the many concessions to his conservative critics in January, vowed a push to cut next year’s spending back to last year’s levels — a reduction of roughly $120 billion below the spending caps agreed upon in the debt ceiling deal.

McCarthy, backed by Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas), is vowing to make good on that promise, targeting 2024 spending at 2022 levels. But the conservatives are skeptical, accusing the Speaker of using budget “gimmicks,” known as rescissions, to claim savings that won’t materialize. 

“One place I’m pretty firmly planted is, we had an agreement on fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending levels as a fundamental component of the Speaker’s contest and the agreement that resolved that. I believe that needs to be honored,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.). 

“I don’t know how, precisely, we’ll get it resolved.” 

Opposition from only a handful of conservatives would be enough to block the Republicans’ appropriations bills, raising the likelihood McCarthy will have to slash 2024 spending even further — at least in the initial round of House bills — and heightening the odds of a government shutdown later in the year, when Senate Democrats inevitably will oppose those cuts. 

In the eyes of Democrats, McCarthy has become captive to a small conservative fringe for the sake of retaining his grip on power. 

“The Speaker is catering to an extreme element in his caucus, and I don’t even think the majority of his caucus agrees with that position,” Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), head of the New Democrat Coalition, told reporters last week. 

Democrats are not the only critics. The conservatives’ threat to oppose their party’s spending bills is also frustrating more moderate Republicans and leadership allies, who say the hard-liners are ignoring the political reality of a divided government. 

“When it’s all said and done, you're gonna end up with the debt ceiling agreement,” said centrist Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). “Because the Senate’s not gonna go more conservative, and we’re not gonna let them spend more.”

Complicating McCarthy’s balancing act has been the candidacy of Trump, who remains the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination despite a long trail of legal and ethical troubles, including recent indictments over his handling of classified documents. 

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday morning, McCarthy, who has not endorsed a 2024 candidate, raised the question of whether Trump is the strongest Republican contender to challenge Biden next year. The remarks reportedly sparked an outcry, forcing McCarthy to shift gears and hail the former president’s recent poll ratings. 

“Just look at the numbers this morning,” McCarthy told Breitbart News several hours later. “Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016.”

Mychael Schnell contributed.