The Biden administration has spent the August congressional recess ramping up its defense strategy in preparation for what increasingly appears to be an inevitable impeachment push from the Republican-controlled House.
According to an exclusive article from NBC News purportedly based on statements from eight unnamed sources, President Joe Biden has established a cohort of 24 “lawyers, legislative aides and communications staffers” over the past several months to defend him in case of a formal impeachment inquiry.
NBC categorized the administration’s planned strategy as “aggressive” and “vigorous,” and said the team had spent the last month looking into past statements from Republicans to create messaging showing any impeachment process as a “sham.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, however, told Fox News Sunday that impeachment was “a natural step forward” based on what House Republicans had learned so far.
“Only because Republicans took the majority have we found out what President Biden told us when he was running for office is not true,” McCarthy said, according to a transcript from Fox News. “He said he never had any dealings with his son’s business and that he never even talked to them. We’ve now found out that not only did he call in to the meetings, he went to dinner. And after the dinner, Hunter Biden got a new Porsche that there was $3.5 million transferred. We now found out as he was a sitting vice president, the family created 20 shell companies. They received 16 of 17 payments from Romania while he was vice president. We now found that the money would flow to nine family members.”
“We also have a DOJ that gave us tried to give a sweetheart deal to Hunter Biden, and the judge said no,” McCarthy added. “So if you look at all the information we’ve been able to gather so far, it is a natural step forward that you would have to go to an impeachment inquiry.”
The speaker said the Biden family had to answer to the American people for what “looks like a culture of corruption.”
White House staffers, needless to say, disagreed.
“Comparing this to past impeachments isn’t apples to apples or even apples to oranges; it’s apples to elephants,” one White House aide told NBC. “Never in modern history has an impeachment been based on no evidence whatsoever.”
According to a source NBC described as “familiar” with the administration’s defense strategy, the team has looked into then-President Bill Clinton’s defense when the Republican-controlled House impeached him in 1998.
During that impeachment process, Republicans lost five seats in the November 1998 House elections, and then lost two additional seats in the 2000 election (perhaps unsurprisingly, as Texas Gov. George W. Bush lost the popular vote by a narrow margin to Vice President Al Gore).
Both Clinton and former President Donald Trump saw significant boosts to their approval ratings during the impeachment proceedings that occurred while they were in the White House.
Biden apparently hopes to see Republicans pay a similar political price this time around, should they proceed with impeachment.
That question is by no means settled. A number of Republicans, particularly those from districts that Biden won in 2020, have expressed skepticism about the appropriateness of impeachment.
“We’ve got to get back to a point where impeachment is what it was intended to be,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who represents a district Biden won, according to NBC News. “I feel like, you know, both in the last cycle and in this cycle, we’re converting into essentially a vote of no confidence in the British Parliament. And I don’t want to see our country go down that path.”
Nebraska Republican Don Bacon said investigations should continue, but it was still “too early” to launch formal proceedings.
“We should have more confidence that actual high crimes and misdemeanors occurred before starting a formal impeachment inquiry,” he told NBC.
If the House does go forward with a formal impeachment process, the Biden White House says it will probably help the president more than hurt him.
“I wouldn’t say anybody here is rooting for that to happen, like, ‘Please impeach, because this is going to help us,’” another unnamed source told NBC. “But if they do it, if they go through with it, I think there are going to be political ramifications for the Republican Party.”