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Republican strategist Scott Jennings discusses the Biden impeachment inquiry


House Republicans have launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. But what exactly is he accused of doing? The Justice Department has charged his son, Hunter Biden, with nine counts related to his failure to pay federal taxes on millions of dollars of income. Here's what Hunter said outside of the Capitol building two days ago.


HUNTER BIDEN: Let me state as clearly as I can, my father was not financially involved in my business, not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home, nor abroad, and certainly not as an artist.

FADEL: So what's this inquiry all about? We're going to ask Republican strategist Scott Jennings. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT JENNINGS: Hey. Good morning.

FADEL: Good morning. So is there any evidence that Joe Biden did anything wrong?

JENNINGS: Well, Republicans believe that Joe Biden was involved with Hunter Biden over the years. They think they've uncovered enough smoke, as it were, to launch this impeachment inquiry and see what else they can find. So Democrats, of course, dispute this. Hunter Biden disputes it. But the basic Republican viewpoint is, is that Joe Biden was the product and that Hunter Biden was the salesman, and that they abused that over the years to enrich themselves. And some of that is borne out in what you see in the Hunter Biden indictments.

FADEL: Now, every House Republican voted in favor of formalizing an impeachment inquiry, but there were some that said they don't believe the evidence is there. One even suggested his colleagues were engaging in retribution impeachment. So why did they all vote for it but also some saying they didn't believe in it?

JENNINGS: Well, I think that they believe there's a difference between an inquiry, which is just a furtherance of the investigation...


JENNINGS: ...And actually going through with impeaching Joe Biden. I thought it was sort of incredible, frankly, that they got the votes for this. But getting the votes for an impeachment, a full-blown impeachment where you send it over to the Senate, I think is going to be a much steeper climb given that about 18 Republicans in the House represent districts that Joe Biden won in 2020. And they probably believe their constituents would rather them be focused on other things.

FADEL: Is this playing politics, though?

JENNINGS: Oh, of course. I mean, there's certainly people, I assume, that want to use impeachment to muddy the waters. You've got Donald Trump facing legal issues this year, so they'd like to have Joe Biden, you know, wrapped up in some legal issues to muddy the waters with the American people. I think there are certainly some Republicans who see this as a revenge impeachment, given that Donald Trump was impeached twice. If you want to make this fly with the American people, you have to find something concrete and understandable to get the American people on your side. There is some evidence that the American people think an investigation is fine. An NPR poll this week, you know, showed 49% of Americans agreed with the inquiry. But that's different than actually going through with the full thing.

FADEL: And you think that's unlikely? I mean, Senate Republicans are even more skeptical, as you mentioned.

JENNINGS: I don't think it's unlikely that they uncover some evidence. But, of course, whether that evidence is enough is in the eye of the beholder. One thing that is a political certainty is that Joe Biden will never be convicted (laughter), no matter what happens in the current makeup of the U.S. Senate. So it is a bit of an exercise in futility.

FADEL: How does this factor into the 2024 election strategy?

JENNINGS: Well, I think for Joe Biden, it ties his White House up a little bit and certainly, you know, is a distraction. It puts the Hunter Biden stuff at front and center in the news, which they probably don't want. And for Republicans, the peril would be that they're seen as focusing on things that aren't, you know, inflation, the economy, immigration and other issues. So I do think there's some peril for both parties here as this goes down the tracks.

FADEL: Scott Jennings worked in the White House of former President George W. Bush and is a Republican strategist. Thanks for your time.

JENNINGS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering race and identity. Starting in February 2022, she will be one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First.