Report: Stefanik briefs Trump on Republican impeachment strategy

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (file photo).
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (file photo).(wwny)
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 11:36 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Rep. Elise Stefanik has briefed former President Donald Trump on the Republican strategy in launching an impeachment inquiry of President Biden.

That’s according to the New York Times, which reported Wednesday that Trump has spoken weekly over the past month to Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican,

Stefanik represents part of the north country, in New York’s 21st Congressional District.

Stefanik’s phone calls with Trump are hardly surprising; she is a close ally of the former president and was the first member of Republican leadership in the House to publicly call for an impeachment inquiry.

The Times reported Stefanik talked with Trump Tuesday, after Speaker of The House Kevin McCarthy ordered the impeachment inquiry. Trump thanked Stefanik, the newspaper reported.

Appearing on Fox And Friends Wednesday, Stefanik was asked about Republican support for the impeachment inquiry.

“I think every member - certainly in the Republican conference - is going to look at those facts in a very studious way and say it’s important to be transparent for the American people,” she said.

During the interview, Stefanik said Republicans have uncovered $20 million “from China, Russia, Ukraine, Romania going into the Biden family.”

The New York Times examined Republican claims, including the $20 million, and concludes “Republicans have records that reflect that the Bidens, including Hunter Biden and the president’s brother Jimmy Biden, received millions of dollars from overseas business interests, but that total includes money that went to associates, not exclusively to family members.

“They have produced no evidence that any of the business relationships — such as Hunter’s seat on the Burisma board — were illegal.”

Stefanik also cites “very reliable, confidential human sources that has worked for decades with the FBI, that there was a bribery scheme when it came to Burisma and the Obama Administration’s policy for Ukraine.”

The scheme she refers to is an allegation that Joe Biden, while serving as vice president, pressured Ukraine to drop a probe into Burisma, an energy company where Hunter Biden was on the board.

The former CEO of Burisma reportedly claimed he paid $5 million to both Joe and Hunter Biden, something he later denied.

The BBC notes “The justice department investigated the claim for eight months during the Trump administration, but ultimately abandoned its probe due to ‘insufficient evidence.’”

Stefanik said Wednesday the impeachment inquiry would give House Republicans maximum ability to investigate the Bidens.

“We know that the Biden Administration and the Department of Justice are going to fight this tooth and nail because they don’t want the truth and the facts to come out to the American people,” she said.

“But the impeachment inquiry gives us the most power, Constitutionally, in court, and I think that’s very important.”

Past the “impeachment inquiry,” any impeachment of Biden faces an uncertain future; Republicans hold a 10 vote majority in the House, but for a variety of reasons, the practical majority McCarthy has is less than that, so he can’t afford to lose many votes.

At the same time, there are Republicans around the country who won seats in Congress in 2022, in districts where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump for president. At least some of them would have a difficult time politically voting to impeach.

Nowhere is that more true than in New York, where an unexpectedly strong showing by Republicans helped fuel the Republican takeover of the House.

So it’s not surprising to hear statements like the one issued by Mike Lawler, a Republican who represents a congressional district on the edge of New York City, after beating the Democratic incumbent in 2022.

While agreeing Republicans have found “credible evidence, including the use of shell companies to hide payments of over $20 million from foreign agents and whistleblower testimony from IRS and DOJ officials, alleging undue political influence and interference,” Lawler said in a statement “Impeachment should not be, and must never be, political in nature or a tit for tat revenge game, and should only be used if the facts and evidence warrant it. As of today, the House has not met the high bar of impeachment.”