Leaders of the House Republican conference would like Americans to be under the impression that the party’s investigation into the possible impeachment of President Biden is a sober act, one undertaken solely in response to alarming evidence they’ve uncovered.
One problem with that framing is that they haven’t uncovered any substantive evidence implicating Biden in wrongdoing. The case is wispy, at best, centered on the actions of Biden’s son Hunter Biden, or on contested allegations about the Justice Department’s investigation into Hunter Biden — neither of which has implicated the president himself.
The other problem is that they keep presenting false or unfounded claims about the president. Even when announcing the probe last month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) resorted to a misleading pastiche of allegations that eroded under just a small amount of scrutiny. Last Thursday saw the first hearing of the investigation, but it was not a huge success for the party as witnesses said they had no evidence implicating the president. The leaders of the committees in charge of the process did their best to clean up things in a Fox News appearance later that night — an appearance in which each made claims that were demonstrably false or otherwise dishonest.
Given all of this, it’s probably not a surprise that half of Americans have no confidence in the House’s ability to conduct a fair investigation into Biden. That’s according to new polling conducted by Monmouth University — polling that was in the field before the first hearing took place.
What’s fascinating about the results of the poll is that even Republicans seem skeptical that the House will be fair in its probe. As many Republicans told Monmouth that they had “a lot of confidence” in the House to conduct the investigation (29 percent) as said they had “no confidence” at all. Among independents, a plurality indicated that they had no confidence in a fair probe.
It’s certainly possible that this lack of confidence among Republicans might somehow be a reflection of concern about Democratic members of the House somehow introducing a lack of fairness, but it’s not clear how that would happen. The question wasn’t framed in a partisan context, though 84 percent of Republicans said they had heard that “the House of Representatives” had launched an impeachment inquiry. Perhaps some segment of Republicans thought that probe was somehow under Democratic control or significant influence. Perhaps they think the probe will be weighted against Biden and accept it. Or perhaps Republican respondents recognize how the inquiry was predicated and launched.
Complicating the picture is the strong support for impeaching Biden among Republicans. More than two-thirds think he should be impeached for actions he took as president — even though most of the things that have been a focus of the Republican investigation over the course of the year occurred before Biden was even running for the Democratic nomination in 2020.
A plurality of independents say Biden should be impeached for actions he took as president, but only just over a third of the group hold that position. Just under a third think he didn’t violate his oath of office at all.
Monmouth University’s news release about its poll noted that the low Republican confidence in the fairness of the impeachment probe compares very unfavorably with sentiment among Democrats when their party launched a probe in the fall of 2019. Then, 58 percent of Democrats indicated that they had a lot of confidence in the fairness of the investigation — twice the percentage of Republicans who say the same of their party’s investigation into Biden.
Again, this may be a reflection of confusion about who’s running the probe and how. But some portion of the 3 in 10 Republicans with no confidence in the fairness of the investigation, one might assume, hold that view because the House leaders pushing for it have done so much to undercut any such confidence.