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EDITORIAL: GOP walks the impeachment tightrope

The evidence implicating President Joe Biden in influence peddling keeps piling up. There’s less evidence that impeachment proceedings will be an electoral boon for the GOP.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy opened an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. He wants House committees to examine the “culture of corruption” that swirls around the Biden family. That includes the business affairs of Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and potential connections to President Biden himself. That could include bribery charges.

Republicans are also likely to scrutinize whether the Biden administration gave Hunter Biden special treatment. Officials offered and then retracted a plea agreement for Hunter Biden that would have sent him to a diversion program for a gun charge and given him broad immunity in other matters. After the public learned the details, a judge pressed prosecutors and the deal fell apart.

The first response from Democrats and many in the media was to assert that there’s no evidence of corruption.

House Republicans have “turned up no evidence of wrongdoing,” Ian Sams, a White House spokesman, wrote on X. The Associated Press reported, “House Republicans have aggressively investigated Biden and his son, claiming without evidence that they engaged in an influence-peddling scheme.”

But Republicans have uncovered plenty of concerning evidence. That includes bank records showing $20 million flowed to the Biden family and its associates through a number of shell companies. Republicans exposed an FBI form from a confidential source implicating President Biden in a scheme involving the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Witnesses have confirmed that President Biden spoke to his son during Hunter Biden’s business meetings. Republicans have also uncovered that the Treasury Department flagged as suspicious more than 150 transactions involving the Biden family and its business associates.

Then, there’s Hunter Biden’s laptop. One email outlined a potential ownership arrangement for a holding company that would own half of an investment group started with $10 million of Chinese money. “The equity will be distributed as follows,” an email from James Gilliar, a former business associate of Hunter Biden, read. The list included “10 (percent) held by H for the big guy.” Tony Bobulinski, another former Hunter Biden business associate, later identified the “big guy” as Joe Biden.

“I hope you all can do what I did and pay for everything for this entire family for 30 years,” Hunter Biden wrote in a text to his daughter in January 2019, according to texts from the laptop. “It’s really hard. But don’t worry, unlike pop, I won’t make you give me half your salary.”

“Pop” is obviously a reference to the elder Biden. The laptop had evidence that Hunter Biden paid for some of President Biden’s household expenses.

Even if you think there are alternative explanations that paint the president in a more favorable light, evidence of President Biden’s unseemly behavior is plentiful. Little wonder a recent CNN poll found that a majority of the public, 61 percent, already believes President Biden had some involvement with Hunter Biden’s business affairs. Forty-two percent believe the president acted illegally. Another 18 percent said President Biden’s behavior was unethical, but not illegal.

That doesn’t mean an impeachment inquiry will be smooth sailing for the House GOP. It’s not even clear if McCarthy has support from all his members. His slim majority will present challenges going forward. Nor is a formal inquiry necessary to uncover evidence of President Biden’s misdeeds. Look at what Republicans have exposed so far.

Mr. McCarthy has put himself in a double bind. Opening this official inquiry without eventually impeaching President Biden would be the political equivalent of acquitting him. But impeaching President Biden — knowing a Democrat Senate is all but certain to acquit — reeks of futility and political payback for the Democratic treatment of Donald Trump.

Playing politics may excite the Republican base, but it does little for the swing voters who decide elections. They’re interested in lower gasoline prices and closing America’s porous southern border. They’re interested in fiscal sanity and a strong defense. Republicans would be better served keeping their focus on drawing contrasts with President Biden’s failed policies.

Keep investigating President Biden. But talk of impeachment is premature and driven by a desire for retribution in the wake of the Democratic House’s vindictive efforts to remove Mr. Trump. That won’t move the country forward.

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