Kevin McCarthy’s Full Flop on opening Joe Biden impeachment inquiry with a House vote

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Kevin McCarthy

Statement: On moving forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden with a House vote.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy directed his chamber to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden related to his family’s foreign business dealings.

McCarthy did not ask the House to vote on whether to proceed with the inquiry. His Sept. 12 directive came just days after he had pledged to hold a vote to launch an inquiry, and it’s at odds with his 2019 comments, when he repeatedly criticized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for initially launching an impeachment inquiry into then-President Donald Trump without a vote.

Time to rev up PolitiFact’s Flip-O-Meter, which evaluates an official’s consistency on an issue without making a value judgment.

In his four-minute announcement at the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy alleged that Biden’s family had been offered special treatment by his administration, something the White House denies.

House Republicans have been investigating Biden’s son, Hunter, for months. Their primary focus involves money Hunter Biden received while serving on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, as his dad, then vice president, helped shape Ukraine policy. So far, this investigation has produced no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden.

We contacted McCarthy’s office for more information and did not get a response.

What McCarthy said days before announcing impeachment inquiry

McCarthy told Breitbart News, a conservative news website, Sept. 1, that he would launch an impeachment investigation only with a vote, which would need a simple majority to pass.

"To open an impeachment inquiry is a serious matter, and House Republicans would not take it lightly or use it for political purposes. The American people deserve to be heard on this matter through their elected representatives," McCarthy said. "That’s why, if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person."

However, McCarthy decided less than two weeks later to launch an investigation without a House vote.

Politically, it would have been hard for McCarthy to get enough votes to launch an impeachment investigation; the GOP has only a five-seat majority. With no Democrats expected to vote in favor of an impeachment investigation, McCarthy would have needed most of the 18 Republicans who serve in districts Biden won in 2020 to vote for it. That would have made them even more vulnerable with their constituents back home than they already are.

What McCarthy said in 2019

McCarthy’s 2023 decision stands in contrast to his criticism of Pelosi for initially forgoing a vote in 2019 as Democrats moved to impeach Trump.

On Sept. 24, 2019, Pelosi said there would be a formal impeachment investigation, charging six committees with running it. McCarthy tweeted the same day: "Here are the facts: 1. Speaker Pelosi can't decide on impeachment unilaterally. It requires a full vote of the House of Representatives."

Over the next several weeks, McCarthy repeatedly called on Pelosi to seek House approval and criticized her "unilateral impeachment," calling the process a "sham."

McCarthy submitted a resolution saying that moving forward without a vote "undermines the voting privileges afforded to each Member and the constituents they represent."

After criticism from McCarthy and others, on Oct. 31, 2019, Pelosi teed up a vote by the full House on whether to launch an impeachment investigation, and it passed.

What McCarthy has said about proceeding without a vote

In his Sept. 12 speech, McCarthy did not say why he wasn’t pursuing a House vote. He said the committees on Ways and Means, Oversight and Judiciary would lead the investigation.

Speaking to reporters later that day, McCarthy pointed to Pelosi’s actions, which altered House precedent, as his rationale for not holding a vote.

"She changed that — this is how you do it. So, I warned her not to do it that way in the process, and that’s what she did, so that’s what we do," McCarthy said.

On Sept. 13, when CNN’s Manu Raju asked McCarthy why he changed his position, McCarthy said, "I never changed my position."

McCarthy hasn’t explicitly ruled out the possibility of a future vote, which would mirror what Pelosi did.

Proceeding without a vote is legal, but it breaks from the impeachment processes for Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Our ruling

McCarthy said Sept. 1 that an impeachment inquiry into Biden would proceed with a House vote.

But on Sept. 12, McCarthy changed course, proceeding with an impeachment inquiry without a vote.

This was also a reversal from McCarthy’s 2019 stance, when he repeatedly said Democrats should not proceed on an impeachment inquiry without a full House vote.

We rate his position a Full Flop.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: McCarthy’s Full Flop on opening Joe Biden impeachment House inquiry