Skip to content
I-word looms: McCarthy faces internal pressure to step up efforts at Biden on Afghanistan


While Republicans would have no way of impeaching Biden while they were still in the House minority, and any GOP-initiated impeachment lawsuit would go nowhere unless the Senate also changed hands. Hands halfway through, the constituent pressure could persuade more reluctant members of McCarthy’s conference to support an escalation of the party’s messages against Biden. McCarthy, who endorsed former President Donald Trump’s call to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, has already pledged a “judgment day” that includes inquiries and hearings into Biden’s handling of the US withdrawal if Republicans win the majority.

If the House rocks next year, however, then McCarthy will need the near-unified support of the Tories in order to secure the speaker’s hammer. And notably, as the California Republican tries to stay focused on getting Americans out of Afghanistan safely, most of the pro-impeachment energy comes from his right flank.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus discussed whether to endorse the call for Biden’s impeachment in a meeting last week, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the confab. While some weren’t ready to commit to impeaching Biden, almost all members agreed that “doing nothing is not an option at this point,” according to a Freedom Caucus member at the meeting who spoke frankly on condition of anonymity.

Freedom Caucus members “were preparing to call for resignation and / or impeachment” last week, the GOP lawmaker said, but were also realistic about the Democratic line of succession. Some Republicans say privately that they have brought up the rise of Vice President Kamala Harris to voters as a reason they are not behind impeachment.

The group is planning a press conference on Tuesday to urge President Nancy Pelosi to recall Congress in session early so lawmakers can vote on a GOP resolution supporting the impeachment of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as GOP resolutions calling upon resignation of Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

McCarthy has previously called on Pelosi to bring the House back to session ahead of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan on Tuesday, telling GOP members in a letter on Sunday that Republicans would try to force ground action by filing a discharge petition on a bill that he said would “give our military the support they need to bring the Americans home.” The House GOP also plans to use the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) debate to highlight issues with the US withdrawal.

US officials said Monday evening that after the army pulled out, dozens of Americans remained in Afghanistan and wanted to leave in an unstable situation as the Taliban took full control of the country.

Alabama Representative Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said on Monday the party already had 50 NDAA amendments on Afghanistan, targeting American equipment that could have been left behind. and the closure of Bagram Air Base prior to the withdrawal, among other issues.

This may not be enough for some in the GOP.

There is a school of thought in McCarthy’s lecture that Democrats have opened the door to politically motivated impeachment efforts by prosecuting Trump, strengthening the case for a conservative base now seeking the same against Biden.

But other GOP lawmakers vividly remember their own condemnation of Democrats who twice impeached Trump – the first for his contacts with Ukraine, in a party line vote, and the second for his role. in the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, in which 10 House Republicans joined.

A senior Republican House official, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity, did not rule out supporting impeachment across the board – especially if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates further, as it does. many party members warned him. The danger lies in the rush to this final phase, said the Republican, who puts McCarthy’s party at risk of open hypocrisy after blasting Democrats.

“Some people will want to do it just for the show, to basically show that they are doing something. But the great tragedy about all of this is that this is exactly what we said would happen when Democrats armed impeachment last time around, ”the GOP lead lawmaker added. “The Republican base is going to demand it as soon as we get a majority, if not now … So everyone will be in a real stalemate.”

While McCarthy may still be swayed by the Conservatives’ growing interest in impeachment, he gets a reprieve as Freedom Caucus members debate among themselves whether to accept an impeachment appeal.

Some members of the Conservative group fear that efforts to mobilize House Republicans in this fashion will fail if first-year Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) Becomes the main face of an impeachment-Biden push. Greene has previously presented resolutions calling for Biden’s impeachment that met with little success at the GOP conference, and her controversial reputation has some colleagues fearful that she is dissuading other members outside the Freedom Caucus from joining. .

Other House conservatives have so far focused their anger on diplomatic and military officials like Blinken. And still others in the GOP warn against turning Afghanistan into political football and want to tackle the dangerous situation on the ground first.

Republicans “want accounts for this. It’s not necessarily about removing someone; we want accounts, ”said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.).

“It’s too early,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Whose district is less red than some of his colleagues. “Also, when I think of impeachment, you know, these are serious crimes and misdemeanors. What I see is blatant incompetence and weakness. So we’re going to have to work our way through what that means. “

For now, Republicans are focusing on messages about Afghanistan, with McCarthy urging members to schedule events in the district with local veterans and communicate their reluctance to local media.

McCarthy has held several press conferences this month to hammer home the Biden administration for his messy withdrawal. But the GOP leader has at times appeared to contradict himself on the messages: he told reporters on Friday that the United States should not negotiate or recognize the Taliban, even though the Trump administration’s approach he supported included negotiations with the militant group negotiated by former Secretary of State Mike. Pompeo.

The party is also working to overcome perhaps its biggest obstacle to keeping Afghanistan in the public mind during the mid-terms – the 15 months between us and the next election – by starting its monitoring engines even before. to have won the majority. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) Told their colleagues on a conference call last week that they had already made requests for preservation of documents.

“Blinken will testify before the committee,” said McCaul, the top Republican on the House foreign affairs committee. “And I want to make sure that these documents are preserved, whether it’s President Meeks and myself, or whether it’s me as subpoenaed President.”