WASHINGTON — When it comes to the politically treacherous push to impeach President Joe Biden, House Republicans have been careful with their words.
Republican lawmakers say they’re only interested in an impeachment inquiry to investigate the White House – not necessarily formal impeachment proceedings against Biden to remove him from office.
If the claim sounds familiar, that’s because it is. That’s what House Democrats said in 2019 when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced an impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump. Pelosi had long faced calls from Democratic lawmakers to open an impeachment inquiry, but the former speaker publicly downplayed the prospect.
Before the House, then controlled by Democrats, began its impeachment inquiry into Trump over his dealings with Ukraine, Pelosi stressed that investigations “may take us to a place that’s unavoidable, on impeachment, or not.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., former House Majority Leader, also said at the time that an inquiry is “not” an impeachment, but an investigation.
Today, Republicans control the House, and GOP lawmakers calling to bring an impeachment inquiry against Biden are echoing their Democratic colleagues when they controlled the chamber in 2019.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has chided reporters for asking questions about impeachment, accusing them of conflating an inquiry with a formal impeachment process.
“There is a big difference” between an inquiry and impeachment, McCarthy said. An impeachment inquiry, he added, is “simply an investigation, and providing Congress the power to do that investigation.”
McCarthy said Democrats have an ‘obsession’ with impeaching Trump
In October 2019, when the House approved rules for the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry against Trump, Pelosi argued that an inquiry was not a surefire path towards impeaching the then-president.
“Once the inquiry proceeds, we’ll decide whether we’ll go forward with impeachment. That decision has not been made,” Pelosi said at a press conference.
At the time, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., now chair of the House Oversight Committee, argued that instead of beginning impeachment proceedings for a long-shot chance of ousting Trump, Democrats should have placed more attention on defeating him in the upcoming presidential election.
“If they’re confident that Donald Trump is a terrible president, if they’re confident he is a corrupt president, then they have the right to make that case over the next 12 months,” Comer said on C-SPAN at the time.
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