As Republicans increasingly show willingness to call for President Joe Biden’s impeachment, there’s one GOP voice that’s notably absent: Donald Trump.
At least, he’s been absent publicly.
When he hasn’t been advocating for the re-invasion of Afghanistan or fundraising off Biden’s troop withdrawal, the ex-president has been fielding phone calls from members of Congress who are trying to gin up support in the U.S. House to remove his successor. In recent weeks, Trump has talked to multiple GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss their progress—or lack thereof—on moving to impeach Biden over the tumultuous, violent withdrawal from the Afghanistan War, according to two Republican sources with knowledge of the situation.
At this time, Republicans of course have nowhere near the numbers in the House to actually impeach Biden, despite the bluster and the messaging push.
One of the sources said most of the conversations have been initiated by lawmakers themselves, as they try to recruit Trump to publicly support various legislative attempts to embarrass Biden, either by impeachment of him or members of his administration—or by invoking the 25th Amendment.
And yet, Trump has been somewhat resistant to attach his name to these efforts.
The twice-impeached former president has been prolific in calling for Biden to “RESIGN,” and has repeatedly fundraised off those demands. For now, however, Trump has been less eager to publicly back an impeachment drive on the Hill, or to even acknowledge that his GOP allies in Congress have talked to him about it.
Reached for comment Tuesday night, Trump’s spokeswoman Liz Harrington said that “this is totally false”—that the ex-president has privately discussed a potential Biden impeachment.
Still, the knowledgeable sources said Trump has privately supported some of the efforts to attempt to remove Biden, even as he’s stayed mostly quiet on impeachment, specifically.
Republican lawmakers have increasingly been moving forward with efforts to remove Biden—or at least signal to conservative voters that it’s their intention to take down the president.
On Tuesday, members of the House Freedom Caucus held a press conference outside the Capitol to push for a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley should resign over the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We call upon, most somberly, the resignation of this president, Joe Biden,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said Tuesday.
The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), said calling for the resignation was “the appropriate step prior to pursuing impeachable offenses, which ha[ve] occurred.” And Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) said that, if there were any Republicans who have doubts about impeachment, “know that you will be facing your own primaries, and no amount of precious money will be able to save you from the uprising of the American people who demand we do something now.”
Freedom Caucus members Andy Harris (R-MD) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) have also authored articles of impeachment against Secretary of State Antony Blinken over his role in the Afghanistan withdrawal, and Biggs previously offered articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over undocumented immigrants crossing the border.
The Freedom Caucus reportedly discussed formally backing an impeachment resolution for Biden last week, but failed to reach the four-fifths majority needed to take an official position on the matter.
Regardless, none of these legislative efforts threaten Biden or any of his officials at the moment. Instead, they’re simply meant to message that Biden has failed voters—and make Democratic attempts to impeach and remove Trump seem as partisan as the new GOP efforts.
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)—known to Trump as “My Kevin”—has been reluctant to explicitly back any of these efforts. When asked about this at a press conference Tuesday, McCarthy simply stressed the need for “accountability,” dodging on the question of supporting impeachment—particularly if Republicans reclaim control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
And for his part, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seems even further from supporting any sort of impeachment effort, or even a largely meaningless call for Biden to resign.