Speaker Johnson says vote on impeachment inquiry ‘necessary’; vote could come next week
Speaker Mike Johnson plans to move ahead with a formal vote for the impeachment inquiry into President Biden, arguing that the move is necessary because the White House has “stonewalled” investigators.
Mr. Johnson, flanked by House Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, accused the White House of blocking up to three Justice Department witnesses from testifying to House investigators and withholding thousands of pages of evidence.
“It’s become a necessary step,” Mr. Johnson told the hosts of “Fox & Friends.” “Elise and I both served on the impeachment defense team of Donald Trump twice when the Democrats used it for brazen, partisan political purposes. We decried that use of it. This is very different. Remember, we are the rule of law team. We have to do it very methodically.”
The White House has contended that the GOP’s impeachment inquiry has turned up no wrongdoing and deemed the probe as illegitimate until officially authorized by a floor vote.
In a memo Friday, White House spokesman Ian Sams argued that House Republicans have spent the better part of a year investigating the president and have failed to show evidence of misdeeds.
“In fact, their own witnesses and documents have time after time debunked their false allegations,” Mr. Sams said.
The House’s impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden was informally launched in September by then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy without a floor vote.
Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, directed the chairs of the House Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means committees to dig into bank records and other documents in an attempt to investigate “allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption” involving the president and his family’s foreign business deals.
Mr. Johnson’s stance has shifted after The Washington Post reported last month that the speaker indicated in private conversations that not enough evidence existed to justify formal impeachment proceedings.
“A formal impeachment inquiry vote on the floor will allow us to take it to the next necessary step,” said Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican. “And I think it’s something we have to do at this juncture.”
On Friday, lawmakers speculated outside a closed-door conference meeting discussing the inquiry that a floor vote could come as soon as next week, or at least before Congress leaves for its Christmas break.
Whether Mr. Johnson has the votes to advance with a formal investigation is unclear. Some Republicans have been skeptical of the three committees’ findings, while Democrats oppose the move.
Passing an impeachment inquiry vote on the floor could be even more difficult for Mr. Johnson following the historic expulsion of former Rep. George Santos, New York Republican.
Booting the disgraced lawmaker shrank the GOP’s majority to just four votes, making it tougher for the House’s top Republican to unite his fractured conference — a feat he has struggled with in his short tenure.
Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee, in a memo Friday, sought to throw cold water on the impending vote.
“Rather than accept these facts, Republicans have resorted to cherry-picking and distorting facts in order to justify continuing this sham investigation aimed at satisfying the demands for retribution of President Trump, who was twice indicted and now faces 91 felony counts,” the lawmakers wrote.