THE WEEK — Monday: VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY addresses NATO Parliamentary Assembly. JOE BIDEN pardons two turkeys. … Tuesday: MICHAEL FLYNN testifies before Georgia grand jury investigating DONALD TRUMP’s alleged election interference. … Thursday: Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s Parade starts at 9 a.m., the Bills-Lions game at 12:30 p.m., Giants-Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. and Patriots-Vikings at 8:20 p.m. … Saturday: Early voting starts in some Georgia counties for the Dec. 6 Senate runoff, litigation permitting .
PROBES AND PITFALLS — With NANCY PELOSI stepping aside, DONALD TRUMP launching another run for president, RICK SCOTT challenging MITCH McCONNELL for Senate GOP leader and KEVIN McCARTHY scrambling for the speaker’s gavel, one big story last week got a lot less attention than it should have.
Two soon-to-be House chairs, Oversight’s JAMES COMER (R-Ky.) and Judiciary’s JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio), detailed their plans to investigate JOE BIDEN and his son HUNTER BIDEN as well as a host of policy matters.
There’s been plenty of chatter about how much of a headache the countless GOP subpoenas could be for Biden’s White House. But when it comes to investigating Biden — and potentially impeaching him — Republicans are going to run into several problems of their own.
1. The internal politics. We’re already hearing from a host of moderate House Republicans who won in Biden districts who are dreading the prospect of overly aggressive probes. It’s not what they ran on this election cycle — and certainly not what they want to be talking about after spending their campaigns focused on the economy.
Our Olivia Beavers, Jordain Carney and Sarah Ferris are up this morning with a story about how the moderate wing of the party will try to flex its muscle to counter the hard right. That could include pushing back against Trump allies in the House, like Jordan, who are eager to see Biden probes take center stage.
It echoes the dynamic among House Democrats after they won the majority in 2019, where Pelosi spent months trying to pump the brakes on the left’s push for investigations and impeachment. This time around, McCarthy is dealing with a much more emboldened right flank that is ready and willing to use its leverage to get what it wants.
2. The public sentiment. The week of the election, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that fewer “than 3 in 10 voters said Congress should focus on a presidential impeachment investigation … or the first son’s politically uncomfortable business dealings — though there is zeal among over half of the GOP electorate for such probes.”
The sentiment shines through anecdotally, too. The market research firm Engagious conducted a focus group with Trump-to-Biden swing voters in Georgia just days after the election. “In what should be a massive red flag to Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team, none of the respondents thinks it’s necessary to investigate Hunter Biden,” reported Engagious President RICH THAU.
Here’s a sampling of comments from participants: “If it wasn’t Biden’s son, I don’t think anybody would give a damn” … “There’s so many more issues to focus on” … “We have more pressing issues at hand.”
In a similar vein, participants were also skeptical of probing infectious disease expert ANTHONY FAUCI and how the Covid-19 pandemic was handled: “What are they going to do? What’s the outcome? Why?” … “Spend millions of dollars doing it? … Ridiculous” … “That’s precious time that they’re losing that they could be spending on other issues.”
None of the focus group’s participants wanted to see investigations of the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago, either — or even the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Seven, however, were interested in a GOP probe of border issues.
“Their message was clear: Focus on today and tomorrow, not yesterday,” Thau said. (h/t WaPo’s Paul Kane, who flagged this study for us on a panel last week.)
— Related: McCarthy announced Sunday he’d travel this week to the border and that Republicans would “use every tool at our disposal — from the power of the purse to power of the subpoena” to address it.
3. The elusive evidence. Given the public skepticism, Republicans will need to amass some seriously compelling evidence if they want to justify their probes to voters. But while Hill subpoenas will go flying down Pennsylvania Avenue in no time, there’s little reason to think anything substantial will come back.