The freshman Democrat was speaking to a group of reporters in his office on Wednesday when he threw down the gauntlet for his political rivals, who still fume openly about his defeat of TV’s Dr Mehmet Oz last fall.
Mr Fetterman, famously blunt and unconcerned with the illusion of playing nice, said during his interview that he viewed the GOP’s potential plans to launch an impeachment inquiry targeting Joe Biden as a “circlejerk” for far-right Republicans that would cost the party politically.
“Go ahead. Do it, I dare you,” Fetterman told reporters on Capitol Hill. “If you can find the votes [in the House], go ahead, because you’re going to lose [in the Senate]. It’s a loser.”
“It would just be like a big circlejerk on the fringe right.”
The senator’s comments underscore a political question that has cause the GOP to descend into infighting amid the party’s continued failure to produce evidence conclusively proving that Mr Biden was at any point involved in his son Hunter’s business dealings.
The president has not been accused of wrongdoing by any credible authority, and Republicans continue to insist that there is more that needs to be uncovered. His son, Hunter, is accused of crimes so far relating only to tax debts and accusations of lying while in the pursuit of purchasing a gun.
Mr Fetterman laid out a political reality: much of the GOP, especially in the House of Representatives, remains consumed with attempts to interfere with the active criminal investigations into Donald Trump, who remains the clear frontrunner for their party’s nomination.
The Senate Republican caucus has yet to take up that same cause, with the exception of a few diehard Trump loyalists like JD Vance of Ohio, who largely owes his Senate career to Mr Trump’s heavy-handed support throughout his 2022 campaign.
"Your man has what, three or four indictments now?" Mr Fetterman said during his interview. “Trump has a mugshot, and he’s been impeached twice.”
The political fight within the GOP over impeachment spilled back into the headlines this week, as House Freedom Caucus chair Ken Buck has become one of the loudest voices against launching such an inquiry at this time. The issue of impeachment is currently not popular with Americans — only roughly a third of independents support the idea, according to a Washington Post poll, which previously registered 57 per cent support for the first Trump impeachment inquiry.
And with Republicans holding the thinnest of majorities in the lower chamber, any issue that motivates Democrats to the polls (or at the very least, turns away independents) could prove fatal for GOP hopes of holding on to control of the House next year.
“[W]e have three committees that are working very hard on uncovering evidence of Hunter Biden’s wrongdoing,” said Mr Buck on Sunday, speaking to CNN. “They are looking to see if there is a connection with Joe Biden. If they reach that point where they could find evidence of a connection, fine. I think that the Republicans will move forward with an impeachment inquiry.”
Then, he seemed to put a nail in that coffin: “Right now, I’m not convinced that that evidence exists. And I’m not supporting an impeachment inquiry.”
It’s a massive blow for the conservative right wing of the House GOP caucus, which has rallied around the issue of Mr Biden’s impeachment as Mr Trump’s legal problems deepen. Matt Gaetz, one of Mr Trump’s most loyal acolytes in the chamber, has talked openly within the last week of forcing a vote on an impeachment inquiry should House Speaker Kevin McCarthy not support it.
Mr McCarthy may, however, end up using the issue as an attempt to throw a bone to the far right — beginning an impeachment inquiry that he knows, or at least suspects, will never escalate into actual articles of impeachment passing the chamber as a whole.
In recent interviews, Mr McCarthy has signalled that he will take that avenue by suggesting that the GOP already has enough circumstantial evidence to open an inquiry, which he has painted as a simple fact-finding exercise.
“If you look at all the information we have been able to gather so far, it is a natural step forward that you would have to go to an impeachment inquiry,” he told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.
But he warned against his conservative colleagues using the looming government funding deadline as leverage to achieve that goal: “If we shut down, all the government shuts it down, investigation and everything else. It hurts the American public.”
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