House Republicans leading the impeachment inquiry into President Biden gave conflicting assessments of how the vote ousting former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would impact their sprawling investigation.
For House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) the vote “doesn’t change anything,” while House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) called the decision a “setback” to efforts to impeach Biden.
The diverging comments were a reflection of the chaos in the House Republican conference, as the GOP grapples with replacing McCarthy, who last month reversed his stance on whether to formally begin an impeachment inquiry under pressure from the party’s right-wing members.
“We’re gonna keep moving forward. I mean, this doesn’t change anything. We’re going to keep moving forward, following the money,” said Comer, who has been at the forefront of pushing allegations furiously denied by the White House.
“We’re going to continue to read emails, text messages put together timelines, try to get people to come in,” he added later.
But Smith offered a starkly different assessment.
“Make no mistake: this needless and selfish action will stall and setback efforts to hold President Biden accountable for his involvement in his family’s business dealings, to cut spending, or to deliver for working class Americans,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) at one point during Tuesday’s debate dismissed the work of the inquiry, calling it “failure theatre.”
The decision to boot McCarthy comes at a critical time in the impeachment inquiry, with a first hearing called by Republicans last week to review the evidence they’ve collected getting off to a rocky start.
During the House Oversight hearing, the GOP’s own witnesses at different turns said they did not think there was enough evidence to impeach Biden, noting a failure at this juncture to connect any actions he took while in office to any of his son’s business dealings.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight panel, said the diversion between the two likely reflects the matter is an afterthought in the confusion resulting from McCarthy’s removal.
“I can honestly tell you that I don’t believe they’ve given it any thought at this point. I think that they are lurching from crisis to crisis,” he said in response to a question from The Hill.
House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is reviewing the Justice Department’s investigation of Hunter Biden, said little when asked about the future of the inquiry, saying only “We’ll keep doing our job.”
He said the GOP effort was “humiliating them,” saying the “whole country was laughing at their presentation … when their own witnesses rejected the premise of the hearing.”
“The Republicans would do themselves a favor by ending their ludicrous and embarrassing impeachment right now and say that they’ve got bigger problems to attend to. That’s what I would recommend to them,” Raskin said.
McCarthy announced a formal impeachment inquiry last month, the very first day the House came back into session after August recess, ending months of resistance to a process he said should not be political.
He did so without calling for a formal vote, pushing many to speculate the matter would not pass the House, given private and public resistance from some GOP members.
McCarthy allies have suggested that his ousting could impact the ability of the investigations to continue amid broader division in the caucus, leaving the inquiry on the back burner.
“That’s been my question the entire time is what’s the plan and there’s not a plan,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has sponsored bills to impeach numerous cabinet officials, said of the move to boot McCarthy.
“And I think that’s the most concerning part about it.”
This story was updated at 8:46 p.m.
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