Several months ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy began floating impeachment trial balloons, taking the midsummer pulse of his conference in closed-door meetings about exactly which Democrat they would prefer to launch an inquiry into: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, or President Joe Biden.
By late July, when McCarthy cracked open the door on a potential Biden inquiry, Politico wrote:
Speaker Kevin McCarthy raised impeachment during a closed-door GOP meeting on Wednesday, cautioning his members that Republicans would launch a probe only when — and if — they secured the evidence to justify one, according to three lawmakers in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But after months of searching for Biden wrongdoing to no avail, it was apparently time to move. As The New York Times observed, far from launching the inquiry based on evidence, McCarthy simply bowed to pressure from his right-wingers who are threatening to oust him and shut down the government.
McCarthy may have survived the day, but Senate Republicans and some House GOP moderates are freaking out.
Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, who holds one of the 18 Republican seats Biden won in 2020, stated a novel concept: “I think an inquiry should be based on evidence of a crime that points directly to President Biden," he said.
"[W]hat crime has the president committed?" Bacon wondered. "[W]e should dig that stuff up before we go down this path,” he added.
Other “Biden 18”members struck a more optimistic note on the question of due diligence.
“I think we’ve got enough substantiation for it to move forward, we’ve got critical mass,” said Rep. Mike Garcia of California, who represents a district Biden carried by double digits in 2020. “What I tell my constituents is we seek clarity, right, I think that’s what most Americans want is clarity. So let’s go get all the facts and data behind it."
Polling of voters in the 18 Biden districts suggests Garcia's rationale is going to be a tough sell. A Public Policy Polling survey of Biden 18 voters conducted last month found 56% thought opening an impeachment inquiry into Biden would be a "partisan political stunt," while just 41% said it would be a serious effort to investigate important problems. Fifty-six percent also said they thought opening such an inquiry would be more about damaging Biden politically than finding the truth, compared with 41% who said the opposite. In both instances, that yawning 15-point chasm should be a flashing warning sign to a Republican in enemy territory.
While some House Republicans, including the speaker, don't seem particularly concerned about risking their majority next year over a baseless inquiry, Senate Republicans spent the day breathing into a bag.
“It is frustrating, obviously,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia told The Hill. “I don’t know what the evidence is, where they’re going with this. I’m going to default to the position that the House is going to do what the House is going to do, and we’ll have to react to that.”
And one GOP senator who was granted anonymity to speak on the matter gave The Hill an earful. “Maybe this is just Kevin giving people their binkie to get through the shutdown,” the Senate Republican said.
Calling the inquiry "a fool's errand," the Republican senator added, “It seems like we’re spending a lot of time on things that matter to them that don’t matter to the people I want to have a positive opinion of Republicans next November."
The GOP senator concluded, "It doesn’t do anything to help us with our campaigns next year."
Nope, it sure doesn't.
Kerry talks with Drew Linzer, director of the online polling company Civiqs. Drew tells us what the polls say about voters’ feelings toward President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and what the results would be if the two men were to, say … run against each other for president in 2024. Oh yeah, Drew polled to find out who thinks Donald Trump is guilty of the crimes he’s been indicted for, and whether or not he should see the inside of a jail cell.