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On impeachment, who’d prevail: Kevin McCarthy or his members?

If there’s a GOP majority in the House, Kevin McCarthy intends to avoid impeachment fights. His opinion may not be especially relevant.


Two unrelated articles were published around the same time yesterday. One report came by way of Punchbowl News, which sat down this week with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who’ll become House speaker if voters give Republicans power in the midterm elections.

One of the biggest challenges House Republican leadership will face if they take the majority is the rush to impeach a member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet — or Biden himself. We were surprised by McCarthy’s thoughts on impeachment. He’s opposed to impeachment as of now and thinks no one in the Biden administration has done anything so bad that deserves being subject to proceedings.

“I think the country doesn’t like impeachment used for political purposes at all,” the GOP leader said. Asked if anyone in the Biden administration has risen to the level that he would consider impeachment proceedings, McCarthy added: “I don’t see it before me right now.”

Right around the same time, Politico published an entirely different report on Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and his plans to take over the House Judiciary Committee in the event of a GOP takeover.

The eight-term Ohio Republican is on the brink of leadership-blessed power in a Republican majority, set to wield the Judiciary Committee’s powerful mallet should the GOP flip the House in November, as is likely. Jordan’s ascension will mark a new pinnacle not only for himself but for the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus — empowering its last original co-founder still in Congress to handle impeachments, immigration and more.

The Politico report went on to note that GOP leaders “are giving Jordan a leading role in potential impeachments next Congress,” adding that “Jordan, and many on his committee, already have one possible impeachment target in Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.”

The conflict between the articles was obvious: One leading House Republican is moving away from impeachment fights as another leading House Republican heads in the opposite direction.

The latter has plenty of company. This morning, for example, Rep. Jim Banks, the chair of the Republican Study Committee, spoke at a CBS News event and agreed that impeaching both Biden and Mayorkas should be on the table for a GOP majority in the next Congress, should voters put the party in power.

Assorted Republicans have spent much of the last year or so talking about launching impeachment crusades at their earliest possible opportunity. By last count, there are seven executive branch officials who’ve been targeted for possible impeachment in the next Congress, and many prominent GOP officials on Capitol Hill appear to be taking the matter quite seriously.

The obvious question — “What exactly did these officials do to warrant impeachment?” — is going largely overlooked, probably because, as McCarthy seemed to suggest, no one in the Biden administration has actually committed high crimes.

Which leads to a secondary question: Who’s calling the shots in the GOP?

After McCarthy threw cold water on the idea of impeachment in his Punchbowl News interview, that theoretically should’ve effectively ended the conversation. The Californian, after all, is the top Republican in the chamber and the man who’s likely to hold the speaker’s gavel in January.

But as a practical matter, it’s no secret that McCarthy is in a weak position. Indeed, let’s not forget that the minority leader also tried to dismiss impeachment talk in April and the party largely ignored him.

It’s not that I’m questioning McCarthy’s strategy or sincerity. In all likelihood, he really would probably prefer to see the House GOP conference avoid pointless impeachment fights that wouldn’t go anywhere in the Senate.

The problem is, however, that McCarthy is more likely to be led by his members than to lead them. His opinion on impeachment is less important than the views of House Republicans who’ll tell the would-be speaker what they expect him to do.