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Will Biden's impeachment inquiry make a difference in 2024?

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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President Joe Biden is now the subject of an impeachment inquiry heading into the 2024 campaign season after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy directed committees to investigate whether he benefitted from overseas business deals by his family.

McCarthy justified the inquiry as a “logical next step” in the monthslong GOP-led investigations into the president and his family, accusing the family of having a “culture of corruption.” He also accused the administration of giving the president’s son, Hunter Biden, special treatment in an investigation of alleged tax crimes and a weapons charge.

The decision to move toward an impeachment of the president presents political risks for Republicans trying to maintain control of the House as some of its vulnerable and moderate members have concerns about it due to a lack of concrete evidence tying the president to his son’s activities.

It also adds another dynamic in the 2024 presidential race, and could have the two nominees, Biden and former President Donald Trump, as a matchup between impeached presidents.

But whether Biden’s potential impeachment will sink in with voters that have recently gone through two impeachment hearings targeting Trump remains to be seen.

“We probably have impeachment burnout from the average American and probably even the average voter. Unless you are living by watching cable news, the partisan social media, I think most people are like, ‘can you just leave me alone?’” said Tobe Berkovitz, a former political media consultant and associate professor of advertising emeritus at Boston University.

Republicans have yet to unveil concrete evidence that the president was personally enriched or acted illegally to assist in his son’s business dealings, but GOP investigators have said the inquiry would allow them to obtain bank records and financial documents. Democrats have also claimed McCarthy's backtracking on putting the inquiry up for a full floor vote is another indication that the charges are flimsy and political motivated.

“It has to be super concrete proof, partly because the media is going to be so aggressive defending Biden and the presidency, that even sort of strong circumstantial evidence is probably just not going to cut it in terms of a serious impact on the president,” Berkovitz said.

The lack of evidence to this point in the investigation is even giving some Republican lawmakers some second thoughts, an issue Biden’s reelection campaign has pointed out in its response.

“Several members of the Speaker’s own conference have come out and publicly panned impeachment as a political stunt, pointing out there is no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden as Republicans litigate the same debunked conspiracy theories they’ve investigated for over four years,” the campaign said in a statement.

To this point, the public view of the impeachment inquiry is mostly broken down along partisan lines. A YouGov poll conducted this week found 28% of U.S. adults said the inquiry was a serious effort to find out what happened and 41% said it is politically motivated to embarrass the president. Around 45% supported opening it with 40% opposed, breaking down mostly on partisanship.

Trump has also suggested that revenge for his impeachments was a motivating factor behind launching the probe into Biden.

“They did it to me,” Trump said in an interview with former Fox and NBC host Megyn Kelly on SiriusXM radio. “And had they not done it to me, I think, and nobody officially said this, but I think had they not done it to me perhaps you wouldn’t have it being done to them.”

The president has mostly avoided going on the attack against House Republicans and brushed off the inquiry as a way for them to shut down the government.

“The best I can tell is they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government,” Biden said at a fundraiser in Virginia, adding that he was “focused on the things the American people want me to be focused on.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the inquiry was a “political stunt” and sent questions about details of the investigation to the White House counsel’s office.

“They want to be very careful about the other issues because if then all of a sudden if some concrete proof comes out, then not only do you have proof that something is wrong, but now you have a soundbite of the president lying, so I think they want to avoid the potential for that at all costs,” Berkovitz said.

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