Senate Republicans see Biden impeachment as fraught with risk

Senate Republicans see impeaching President Biden ahead of the 2024 election as a risky political strategy that could turn off moderate voters and are hoping to wave their House GOP colleagues off from marching down that road.

GOP senators say the party is better off focused on how to improve Americans’ lives in the future instead of fighting messy battles to settle past political scores. 

“Staying focused on the future and not the past is in my view the best way to change the direction of the country and that’s to win an election,” Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) told reporters Tuesday.  

Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairwoman Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said Tuesday she would prefer to focus on national security policy, which the Senate is debating this week as it wraps up work on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  

“I’m really focused on NDAA right now. I really want to see it get done and I want a bipartisan deal between the House and the Senate. I think that’s what we’re focused on,” Ernst told reporters. “We need to get our [appropriations] bills done, too. So, that’s what we’re going to focus on in the Senate.” 

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday strongly signaled to reporters that the House could move forward with an impeachment inquiry.

“How do you get to the bottom of the truth? The only way Congress can do that is go to an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday. “What an impeachment inquiry does, it gives us the apex of the power of Congress for Republicans and Democrats to gather the information that they need.”

However, McCarthy later said no decision had been made, raising doubts about whether he’d move forward with the step.

“I wasn’t announcing it,” he said. “I simply say … that the actions that I'm seeing by this administration, with holding the agencies from being able to work with us — that would rise to the level of an impeachment inquiry. We … still have a number of investigations going forward.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) declined to comment on McCarthy's impeachment push when asked about it on his way to the Senate floor. 

Senate Republicans have generally kept their distance from the House Republican-led investigations into the Biden family’s business dealings and earlier this summer dismissed what they saw as a hastily filed motion by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) to impeach Biden for lacking evidence and due process.  

“I know people are angry. I’m angry at the Biden administration for their policies at the border and a whole host of other things, but I think we also need to look at what’s achievable,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said last month in response to Boebert’s impeachment resolution.  

“And with a Democratic majority in the Senate, I don’t think that’s achievable,” he warned.  

Cornyn on Tuesday remarked that the House standards for impeaching a president have dropped in recent years. 

House Democrats impeached former President Trump in December of 2019 and then again in January of 2021.

He told reporters that impeaching presidents is getting to be "a habit around here," and that's not a good thing.

“Unfortunately, what goes around, comes around,” he said. 

Remembering when it backfired 

Senate Republicans remember the last time a Republican-controlled House impeached a Democratic president in the fall of 1998, it backfired on their party in that year’s midterm election.   

Democrats picked up five House seats that year, marking the first time in 64 years the president’s party didn’t lose any seats in Congress during a midterm election.   

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted twice to convict Trump on impeachment charges during two separate Senate trials, said it’s not unusual for lawmakers to launch baseless attacks against a major party’s nominee for president, as happened to him in 2012.   

Romney said Biden should open up about his family’s business dealings to reassure the public.  

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“There are all sorts of accusations and allegations. I had something of that nature launched against me when I was running for president. I found the best way to respond was full disclosure and transparency. My guess is that’s the way to make it go away,” he said. “I’ll expect to see that from the Biden team.   

Romney reminded his House colleagues that the “bar” for impeachment is “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  

“That hasn’t been alleged at this stage, but we’ll see what develops. I certainly hope that that’s not going to confront us again,” he said.   

Cornyn warned Tuesday that further lowering the bar for impeachment will set a precedent for future Congresses.   

“Once a precedent is established around here, you can pretty well guarantee people will cite that as justification or lower the bar further. I don’t think it’s a healthy thing,” he said.   

Even so, Cornyn acknowledged that House investigators have uncovered some troubling evidence shedding light on Hunter Biden’s business dealings.  

“I’m very disturbed by some of the revelations in the House about the Biden family business,” he said.   

Not eager for battle 

GOP senators are not eager to get drawn into a protracted battle with Democrats over an impeachment trial that may wind up dividing their conference if House investigators fail to come up with compelling evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, the standard set by the Constitution.  

Investigations by the House Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees into Hunter Biden’s business dealings and whether he received favorable treatment from the Department of Justice have failed to gain much public traction, or even support from Senate Republicans on the other side of the Capitol.  

Trump on Monday vented his frustration with Senate Republicans for not showing much interest in pursuing Biden.  

“Why hasn’t Republican ‘leadership’ in the Senate spoken up and rebuked Crooked Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats, Fascists, and Marxists for their criminal acts against our Country, some of them against me. How long does America have to wait for the Senate to ACT?” Trump demanded in a post to his social media site, Truth Social. 

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines (Mont.) told reporters Tuesday that it’s the job of the House, not the Senate, to investigate Biden.  

“It will be up to the House to determine what the facts lead them to vote on in the future. That’s their job,” he said.  

Some Republican senators, however, argued Tuesday that House Republicans are justified in moving forward with an impeachment inquiry. 

“Considering what the House Oversight Committee is unearthing — we can’t help that the FBI didn’t do their job for five years — now they’re finding all this information out. They’re still digging and appropriately so,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who asserted that House investigators have found “pretty strong evidence of serious crimes.” 

“Whether we like it or not, we may have to deal with it,” he said. “I think the Speaker is doing what he needs to do and what’s appropriate to do, quite honestly.” 

Asked about his Senate Republican colleagues’ reluctance to wade into another impeachment fight, Cramer said: “I’m not eager to get on an airplane every Monday morning.” 

“We don’t do this for our own convenience, we do this because we pledge an oath and we have a president who clearly has over the years been running a really awful family crime syndicate,” he said. “We’ve got to look into it.” 

He said when Democrats controlled the House during the Trump administration, “We impeached the president twice with no evidence in the kangaroo court.” 

Tuberville finds himself at center of storm on abortion, white nationalism

Editor’s note: Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) says she supports Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) hold on military promotions. A previous version of this story contained incorrect information. 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has placed himself at the center of a growing storm touching on abortion, the military and white nationalism, irritating colleagues and turning himself into a more high-profile political target.

The former Auburn University football coach turned first-term Alabama senator has annoyed fellow Republicans with a hold on military promotions, earning rare criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who loathes to publicly criticize a fellow GOP senator.

He then made his troubles worse by criticizing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a local NPR interview for wanting to get “the white extremists, the white nationalists” out of the military. Pressed on those remarks, Tuberville said he’d call white nationalists “Americans.” 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pounced on those comments from Tuberville, one of former President Trump’s most vocal advocates in the Senate, labeling them “revolting.”

“Does Sen. Tuberville honestly believe that our military is stronger with white nationalists in its ranks?” Schumer said. “I cannot believe this needs to be said, but white nationalism has no place in our armed forces and no place in any corner of American society, period, full stop, end of story.”

Abortion politics

Tuberville’s battle with the military is about the subject of abortion, an issue that has repeatedly helped Democrats in elections and hurt Republicans since the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Tuberville has effectively blocked promotions for roughly 200 senior military officials in key regions over the Pentagon’s abortion policy, which allows service members to take leave and provides travel reimbursements for those who need to travel to get an abortion. That is a more common need since the end of Roe.

Tuberville has said he would lift the holds in exchange for a vote on legislation to change the Pentagon policy, but Democratic senators have been unwilling to give in on that point. Tuberville said he would lift the holds even if his bill did not pass — a likelihood since it would need 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles.

“I find the senator’s approach to the men and women who are seeking advancement in our military to really be painfully wrong,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, when asked whether Democrats would be amenable to voting to end the Pentagon abortion policy.

McConnell has made it clear he opposes Tuberville’s holds.

“No, I don’t support putting a hold on military nominations,” McConnell told reporters last week in response to a question about Tuberville’s blockade. “I don’t support that. But as to why, you’ll have to ask Sen. Tuberville.”

The military promotions in question include those in NATO and in the Indo-Pacific and would usually be passed unanimously all together. Austin argued in a letter last week the hold is also detrimental to military families and imposes “needless additional stress” on them.

Wrong direction

At the heart of Tuberville’s arguments on abortion and in the white nationalism remarks is that the military is moving in the wrong direction, specifically on recruiting and readiness.

He is quick to note the Army missed its recruiting goal in 2022 by 25 percent and attributes that to the leftward lurch in recent years and an attempt to freeze out Trump backers. 

In seeking to clean up his remarks about white nationalism to the NPR station, Tuberville’s office said he was being skeptical of the notion that white nationalists were in the military, not that they should be in the military.

Later, however, in a separate interview with NPR, Tuberville said he considered someone who was a white nationalist to be a “Trump Republican” and a “MAGA person.”

Though some Republicans have opposed Tuberville’s holds, they are largely brushing off the Democratic criticisms of his remarks about white nationalism.

One Senate Republican told The Hill the one-two punch isn’t creating internal consternation for the GOP conference, adding the remarks last week are viewed as an “isolated event” and downplayed it as “one member acting on his own.” 

At the same time, the Senate Republican said Tuberville might want to rethink his strategy.

“If you use holds strategically and you focus on an agency, there’s no reason why he can’t pick and choose,” the Senate Republican said. “I think he’d be wise to just go back and just identify the agency that Austin’s inaction is going to end up having a problem with and just create a problem for that agency versus a [Department of Defense]-wide issue. That’s going to be hard to hold up over time.” 

“That really should have been the way he went into it to begin with,” the Senate GOP member added.


Tuberville, despite the controversies, is well-liked by his conference. Commonly referred to around the Capitol as “coach,” Tuberville is seen frequently back-slapping colleagues before and after votes. Many Republicans see him as taking action with the holds that are well within his senatorial powers, regardless of whether they agree with him. 

“[Tuberville’s] serious about this. He’s very serious. It’s not just some show that’s going on,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a fellow member of the Armed Services Committee who supports his hold though she has previously said it isn't necessarily the tactic she'd use.

His long-standing hold even has support in some corners of GOP leadership. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a McConnell ally, told reporters earlier this week the opposition is warranted. 

“One of the biggest problems around here is people aren’t held accountable when they overstep their authority,” Cornyn said, referring to the Pentagon. “I regret that it’s necessary, but I think it is.”

For now, how to end Tuberville’s hold remains very much in question to members of both parties as the senator said earlier this week “nothing” will push him to compromise on the situation, short of the Pentagon reversing its policy.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Hill Tuberville should end his hold and instead seek an amendment vote on the issue via the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

However, Tuberville told reporters earlier this week he doesn’t want to hold the NDAA up with this ongoing push and added he wasn’t interested in a handshake deal with the Biden administration and Democratic leaders on the matter.

“They did that with [Sen. Joe Manchin], and they lied to him,” Tuberville said, pointing to Manchin’s attempt to get permitting reform attached to last year’s NDAA. 

The abortion issue is also creating political headaches back home for Tuberville as the Biden administration may nix plans for the U.S. Space Command’s headquarters to move from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Huntsville, Ala. Multiple reports indicate the issue, headlined by the state’s restrictive law that bans nearly abortions, is at the heart of the potential decision.

“It’s not something that’s gone over super well [in the state],” one Alabama GOP source told The Hill, noting that is especially the case in Huntsville, where 10,000 jobs could be impacted. 

Other Senate Republicans believe that if Democrats accede to Tuberville’s request for a vote on the Pentagon policy to end the hold, it’s not out of the question that another GOP member could fill his void and announce a blockade of their own. 

“I’m not sure there aren’t other Republicans who would be more than happy to step in, particularly from strong pro-life places and say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m putting a hold on all these rascals until they change this policy,’” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said.  

As of this week, Tuberville told The Hill he has yet to hear from anyone on the other side of the aisle about reaching a resolution. Instead, Democrats this week launched another effort to advance the horde of military promotions via unanimous request. 

“I will come to the floor as many times as possible,” Tuberville said on the floor. “To this point, I hope I’ve been clear. I’ve laid out the conditions for my holds and when I will drop my holds. These conditions have not been met, and I will not drop this hold until they are met.”

Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 footage sparks bipartisan outrage

Fox News host Tucker Carlson whipped up a firestorm Tuesday on Capitol Hill, sparking bipartisan backlash and igniting tensions with Capitol Police by downplaying the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on his prime-time program as “mostly peaceful chaos.”

His show divided Republicans, with a number of GOP senators ripping his portrayal of the incursion at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, who rarely offers opinions on political issues, said the Monday night show was filled with “offensive and misleading conclusions about the Jan. 6 attack.”

“The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video. The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments,” Manger wrote in a memo to lawmakers.

“Those of you who contributed to the effort to allow this country’s legislative process to continue know firsthand what actually happened.” 

The segment was the first of two installments planned for this week relying on security footage granted to Carlson by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Carlson was expected to air more clips from the footage during his show on Tuesday evening. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a scathing rebuke of Carlson and Fox on Tuesday, holding up a copy of the memo and saying he wanted to associate himself “with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol police about what happened on Jan. 6.” 

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) holds up a letter from U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger during a media availability following the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. McConnell supports Manger’s view against the released video footage to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson of the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol. (Greg Nash)

“It was a mistake, in my view, [for] Fox News to depict this in a way completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official in the Capitol” described, McConnell said.

It’s an unusual position for the host of one of Fox’s most-watched programs, who, while often a magnet for the ire of the left, seldom gets such direct criticism from those on the right. 

Carlson, who has previously criticized McCarthy on his show, suggested at the start of the year that the new House Speaker release all Jan. 6 security footage in order to win support from detractors threatening to block his path to the gavel. McCarthy later gave Carlson exclusive first access to the footage, but has denied that release came as a result of negotiations for the Speakership.

Though McCarthy and other Republicans said last week that footage released for broadcast would be subject to a Capitol Police security review, and Carlson said as much on his show, Capitol Police said it saw just one of the several clips that Carlson aired on Monday: An interior door that Carlson said was blurred as a result of security concerns.

“We repeatedly requested that any clips be shown to us first for a security review,” Capitol Police told The Hill on Monday. “So far we have only been given the ability to preview a single clip out of the multiple clips that aired.”

A senior GOP aide with knowledge of the process of releasing the footage said the Capitol Police provided a list of what would be considered security sensitive, and only one clip that Carlson wanted to air met that standard, which Capitol Police then cleared.

The same camera angle was released without any blur on the door during the 2021 impeachment of former President Trump.

“We worked with the Capitol Police to identify any security-sensitive footage and made sure it wasn’t released,” McCarthy spokesman Mark Bednar said in a statement.

A representative for Fox News declined to comment on Tuesday. 

A number of lawmakers offered pointed and direct criticism of Carlson’s first use of the footage.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), meanwhile, told multiple news outlets said that Carlson’s show on the Jan. 6 footage was “bullshit.” 

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told CNN: “To somehow put that in the same category as a permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)

Sen. Kevin Cramer is among the Republicans that have criticized Tucker Carlson airing Jan. 6 footage. (Greg Nash)

Carlson at the same time won plaudits from other Republicans who have similarly criticized and downplayed the attack. 

“When will judges begin applying justice equally? Doesn’t look like “thousands of armed insurrectionists” to me,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a tweet after thanking McCarthy and Carlson for showing the footage.

“I've seen enough. Release all J6 political prisoners now,” Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) said in a tweet as Carlson’s show aired.

Trump also weighed in on the footage, praising Carlson and McCarthy over its publication and calling the tapes the Fox host played for his audience “irrefutable.”  

Carlson aired the footage after being granted access to the trove of security tapes by McCarthy, prompting outrage from Democrats and pundits who raised concerns that the tapes could threaten Capitol security procedures and amplify conspiracy theories.

Former President Trump

Former President Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. (Greg Nash)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor on Tuesday called Carlson’s show “one of the most shameful hours we’ve seen on cable television,” saying he was “furious” with both Carlson and McCarthy. He called on Fox News and its owner Rupert Murdoch to tell Carlson to not run more footage on Tuesday evening. 

“Speaker McCarthy has played a treacherous, treacherous game in catering to the far right,” Schumer said.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who was one of the members on the Jan. 6 committee, is among those who have raised security concerns over the release of the footage, noting it could be used to map the Capitol and the evacuation path of lawmakers.

He called Carlson’s show and conspiracies about Jan. 6 pushed through his documentary a “central part of the GOP agenda and playbook as they try to get Donald Trump elected to the White House again.”

“They didn't even apparently honor their agreement with the Capitol Police to provide the clips in advance. So there can be some attempt to contextualize whatever silly potshots they're taking,” he told The Hill.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)

Rep. Jamie Raskin (Annabelle Gordon)

“The absurd part is they act like their fragmented and disoriented potshots from Capitol security footage are the only documentary record of what happened. There are thousands and thousands of hours that have already been published – not just security footage – but also [by] media that were present and insurrectionists themselves. The whole world was watching and everyone knows exactly what happened. They are involved in a fraudulent enterprise here,” he added. 

Among the unfounded theories Carlson floated in his Monday program were suggestions that federal agents helped incite the violence, though he stopped short of providing evidence to prove it. He also cast doubt on the circumstances surrounding the death of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick.

It was something Manger deemed “the most disturbing accusation from last night” in asserting his death “had nothing to do with heroic actions on Jan. 6.”  

“The department maintains, as anyone with common sense would, that had Officer Sicknick not fought valiantly for hours on the day he was violently assaulted, Officer Sicknick would not have died the next day,” the chief said.

The top-rated host last year produced and published a multi-part documentary series dubbed “Patriot Purge,” which purported to tell an alternative story of the attack and features at least one subject who suggests the event may have been a “false flag” operation. 

The publication of the tapes also comes as Carlson specifically and Fox more generally are taking intense heat from critics over revelations the company’s top executives and talent embraced and discussed Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election on air but privately cast doubt on them. 

“They believed the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted,” Carlson said Monday of the people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. “They were right. In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy, given the facts that have since emerged about that election,” he said. “No honest person can deny it. Yet the beneficiaries of that election continue to lie about what is now obvious.” 

Manger dismissed those conclusions in his Tuesday letter.

“TV commentary will not record the truth of our history books,” he wrote in his letter. “The Justice system will. Truth and justice are on our side.” 

Alexander Bolton contributed.

Senate GOP pours cold water on idea of impeaching Biden

Senate Republicans are pouring cold water on the idea that President Biden’s classified documents controversy rises to the level of an impeachable offense, heading off House conservatives looking for revenge after former President Trump’s two trials.

Even before Tuesday’s revelation that about a dozen classified documents had been found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home, GOP senators were cool to the idea of impeachment. 

“I don’t think you want to get into where it’s a tit for tat, every two years or four years you’re dealing with impeachment proceedings in the House and Senate,” Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) told The Hill. “There has to be a really good reason, obviously, the constitutional reasons and grounds for that. So we’ll see where it goes.” 

Asked whether Biden’s possession of classified documents has the potential to rise to the level of an impeachable offense, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to the Senate GOP leadership team, gave a simple answer: “No.” 

Many Republicans thought the Democrats’ first impeachment of Trump over delaying military aide to Ukraine was a partisan overreach. But that means they are also wary of doing the same thing now that their party has the House majority.

It’s just one of several tension points emerging between Republicans in the two chambers.  

Senate Republicans have mostly ignored chatter in the House about impeaching Biden’s secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, or wiping out the tax code and replacing it with a 23 percent to 30 percent national sales tax. 

Some Republicans think talk of impeaching Biden will grow in the House, even though GOP senators warn that it’s a bad idea. 

House Republicans introduced more than a dozen impeachment resolutions against Biden in the last Congress, and the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee has already initiated an investigation of Biden’s handling of classified documents, which could lay the ground for future impeachment proceedings.  

Trump has also come under criticism for a separate classified documents controversy, but House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in an interview with Fox Business argued that Biden’s handling of classified documents was more egregious because the former Republican president at least secured the classified information he held with padlocks.

“That’s much different than what we’re finding now with President Biden, and I think it is severely going to cause him a great deal of trouble in the future as we get more of the truth,” McCarthy told Fox host Larry Kudlow. 

A few Senate Republicans entertain the idea that the classified documents found at Biden’s Delaware home and former Washington, D.C., office would lead to a Senate impeachment trial. 

“This actually might be an impeachable offense. If there’s a high crime and misdemeanor standard, which there is, this is the closest thing to one in recent years,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “If the special counsel comes up with anything, realizing [Biden’s] a sitting president, I suppose they could draft up what would become articles of impeachment, depending on what they find.” 

Cramer said “I personally hate impeachments” but thinks the standard has changed since House Democrats impeached Trump in 2019 after he held up aid to Ukraine to use as leverage to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s family’s business dealings in the country.  

Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney (Utah), voted to convict on an article of impeachment during Trump’s 2020 Senate trial.  

Cramer said “Democrats created an impeachment cycle and we may be in that cycle,” calling Trump’s first impeachment “far-fetched and silly.”  

He said House Republicans now need to decide whether they want to keep the impeachment bar as low as they believe Democrats set it in 2019 or whether to elevate it to cover only the most serious crimes.  

The documents found at Pence’s home would further muddy any attempt to argue that Biden’s possession of classified documents meets the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors. 

Romney on Tuesday said it will be hard for House Republicans to credibly push an article of impeachment against Biden for keeping classified documents at his Delaware home after Pence admitted the same transgression.  

“I can’t imagine that’s where it’s going to head with so many people in the same arena,” he said.  

Some key Senate Republicans, such as Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (Fla.), are already on record downplaying Trump’s possession of classified documents at his Florida home as a “storage” issue.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday dismissed a question about whether Biden’s possession of classified documents could rise to the level of an impeachable offense.  

“I don’t have an answer to that hypothetical. I do think that the Justice Department seems to be willing to treat everybody the same and to try to retrieve the documents, and obviously it’s not a great idea to take classified documents away from the archives. We’ll see how they continue to handle it,” he said.   

Republican senators say it should be up to Robert Hur, the special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to decide whether Biden should be charged with a crime, not House Republicans, who filed more than a dozen articles of impeachment against Biden in the last Congress.  

“It could be a criminal offense,” Cornyn said. “That’s what the special counsel is for. Mishandling classified materials is very serious.”   

Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith in November to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents and whether he unlawfully interfered with the 2021 transfer of presidential power.  

Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasted some Democrats for “hypocrisy” by trying to minimize Biden’s culpability after hammering Trump for months after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in August to retrieve classified documents.  

“The thing that’s made this such a story is the hypocrisy, [Democrats] attacking Trump,” he said. “Nobody should take classified materials outside of a secure facility, period.”   

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said fellow Republicans should “be careful” about “knee-jerking to impeachment.”  

“I think the country will fatigue of that,” he said, pointing out that recent impeachment proceedings against former Presidents Clinton and Trump “have not ended up with any real result.”  

“If you start doing it on everything, I think it would be bad politically and for the mechanics of government working,” he said.  

Democrats picked up five House seats in the 1998 midterm elections as the Republican majority was in the midst of gearing up to impeach Clinton, marking a rare instance when the president’s party picked up House seats in the middle of a second term.  

Republicans picked up 14 House seats in the 2020 election after Democrats impeached Trump at the end of 2019.