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News / Politics

White House encourages House GOP to ‘move on’ from Biden impeachment effort

By LISA MASCARO and ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press
Published: March 15, 2024, 8:35am

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s top White House lawyer is encouraging House Speaker Mike Johnson to end his chamber’s efforts to impeach the president over unproven claims that Biden benefited from the business dealings of his son and brother.

White House counsel Ed Siskel wrote in a Friday letter to Johnson that testimony and records turned over to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees have failed to establish any wrongdoing and that even Republican witnesses have poured cold water on the impeachment effort. It comes a month after federal prosecutors charged an ex-FBI informant who was the source of some of the most explosive allegations with lying about the Bidens and undisclosed Russian intelligence contacts.

“It is obviously time to move on, Mr. Speaker,” Siskel wrote. “This impeachment is over. There is too much important work to be done for the American people to continue wasting time on this charade.”

The rare communique from the White House counsel’s office comes as Republicans, their House majority shrinking ever further with early departures, have come to a near-standstill in their Biden impeachment inquiry.

Johnson has acknowledged that it’s unclear if the Biden probe will disclose impeachable offenses and that “people have gotten frustrated” that it has dragged on this long.

But he insisted as he opened a House Republican retreat late Wednesday in West Virginia that the “slow and deliberate” process is by design as investigators do the work.

“Does it reach the ‘treason, high crimes and misdemeanor’ standard?” Johnson said, referring to the Constitution’s high bar for impeachment. “Everyone will have to make that evaluation when we pull all the evidence together.”

Without the support from their narrow ranks to impeach Biden, the Republican leaders are increasingly eyeing criminal referrals to the Justice Department of those they say may have committed potential crimes for prosecution. It is unclear to whom they are referring.

Still, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is marching ahead with a planned hearing next week despite Hunter Biden’s decision not to appear. Instead, the panel will hear public testimony from several former business partners of the president’s son.

Comer has also been looking at legislation that would toughen the ethics laws around elected officials.

Without providing evidence or details, Johnson said the probe so far has unearthed “a lot of things that we believe that violated the law.”

While sending criminal referrals would likely be a mostly symbolic act, it could open the door to prosecutions of the Bidens in a future administration, particularly as former President Donald Trump has vowed to take revenge on his political detractors.

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