Kevin McCarthy is playing a risky game threatening Joe Biden with impeachment | Opinion

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says Republicans in his chamber should launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden once representatives return in mid-September.

But some GOP members of McCarthy’s caucus say they have seen no evidence to justify impeachment proceedings against the Democratic president.

That doesn’t mean McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican who now represents Clovis in Congress, will pump the brakes. He may be leveraging the idea of impeachment against the looming government shutdown at the end of September if Congress does not pass spending bills, or at least a stop-gap measure, for the federal government’s new fiscal year.

It’s a strategy that carries risk. If there is little to no sufficient evidence of Biden’s wrongdoing, McCarthy’s gamble will be rightly seen as foolish and will put the nation through a needless political firestorm.

It would work like this: Far-right House members, whose support was critical to McCarthy winning the speakership by a razor’s edge of votes, also fervently want to bring impeachment proceedings. But they don’t like the spending bills put forth and have threatened to stymie attempts to get a budget for the new fiscal year.

McCarthy can tell those members that if the government shuts down, there can be no start to an impeachment inquiry into Biden.

“If we shut down, all the government shuts it down — investigation and everything else,” he told Fox News. “It hurts the American public.”

Some members of the hard-right group, the so-called Freedom Caucus, balk at that scenario. They contend an impeachment inquiry can happen even with a shuttered federal government.

So McCarthy could be entering a game of chicken with members of his own party.

Impeachment evidence against Biden

The Republican-led House Oversight Committee has for months been making a case that the president’s son Hunter Biden made money in foreign deals by trading on his name and proximity to the president. The committee has also accused Biden of profiting off his family’s overseas business dealings “with America’s adversaries” when he was vice president.

But some GOP members don’t see any evidence to warrant impeachment. One of those is Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska. He told The Hill that “there should be a direct link to the president in some evidence. We should have some clear evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor, not just assuming there may be one. I think we need to have more concrete evidence to go down that path.”

Assuming House Republicans muster the votes to start impeachment proceedings, the risk for McCarthy is indeed in the evidence itself. What if it is not compelling? What if it is seen as manufactured — mere politics?

What about Trump?

McCarthy played “whataboutism” when former President Trump was indicted. He turns the tables and says “what about” the supposed bad behavior of Democrats and Biden.

So here’s a whatabout for McCarthy:

Trump, unlike the practice of presidents before him, did not divest from his business interests while in office. One of those interests was the Trump International Hotel, located less than one mile from the White House. USA Today reported that for just one year, in 2017, Trump earned $40.4 million from the hotel.

“The hotel’s customers in 2017 also included officials or lobbyists for the governments of Malaysia, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, according to public disclosures and event announcements,” USA Today said.

Peter Baker of The New York Times noted in a recent story how foreign officials “were good customers for Mr. Trump. While in office, 145 foreign officials from 75 governments visited Trump properties and foreign governments or affiliated groups hosted 13 events at his hotels and resorts.”

Trump is also notable for how he had family members in his government, allowing them to make connections that would later prove valuable. After leaving White House service, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner “started a private equity firm with $2 billion in funds from Saudi Arabia and hundreds of millions more from other Arab countries that stood to benefit from U.S. policies and have an interest in a possible second Trump administration,” Baker reported.

Trading on the presidency for personal gain violates Ethics 101, yet Trump did it in spades.

Did McCarthy and GOP colleagues sound the alarms over Trump’s dealings? Did they call them “corrupt,” as they have with Biden? Not a peep.

McCarthy has said he believes Americans don’t like impeachment proceedings for strictly political purposes.

So if he brings the impeachment inquiry, Americans will judge that for themselves — and McCarthy and the GOP could be the potential losers.