Going through the prospect that they could by no means be capable of impeach President Biden, Home Republicans are exploring a pivot to a special technique: issuing legal referrals towards him and people near him.

In latest weeks, a political and factual actuality has set in on Capitol Hill. Regardless of their subpoenas and depositions, Home Republicans have been unable to provide any strong proof of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden and lack the votes in their very own social gathering to cost him with excessive crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional customary for impeachment.

As a substitute, prime G.O.P. lawmakers have begun strategizing about making legal referrals towards Mr. Biden, members of his household and his associates, primarily sending letters to the Justice Division urging prosecutors to analyze particular crimes they imagine could have been dedicated.

The transfer could be largely symbolic, however it might permit Republicans in Congress to avoid wasting face whereas ending their thus far struggling impeachment inquiry. It has the added enchantment for the G.O.P. of aligning with former President Donald J. Trump’s vow to prosecute Mr. Biden if he wins the election.

And it might keep away from a repeat of the humiliating course of Home Republicans, who’ve a tiny and dwindling majority, went by final month with the impeachment of Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland safety secretary. After initially falling short of the votes to impeach Mr. Mayorkas, Republicans barely succeeded on the second attempt, solely to comprehend that the Democratic-controlled Senate was poised to quickly acquit him — and even dismiss the fees and not using a trial.

“There’s nothing that I’ve heard within the final couple of weeks that claims that we’re anyplace near having the votes” for impeachment, stated Consultant Kelly Armstrong, Republican of North Dakota and the writer of the resolution authorizing the impeachment investigation.

Mr. Armstrong stated he believed legal referrals had been the more likely end result. Mr. Armstrong advised Home Republicans might make referrals concerning alleged violations of the Overseas Brokers Registration Act in reference to worldwide enterprise offers by Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and advised that the Justice Division examine accusations of obstruction.

“I’m nonetheless excited by why we haven’t gotten higher solutions on the whole-of-government strategy to obstructing all of those investigations,” Mr. Armstrong stated.

Republicans say they don’t seem to be completed with their investigation, and will nonetheless change course and determine to carry an impeachment vote. They’ve scheduled a public listening to subsequent week with former enterprise companions of Hunter Biden, although Mr. Biden himself has refused to appear.

In an interview, Consultant Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the Judiciary Committee chairman, stated he was additionally demanding audio recordings of President Biden that had been a part of the special-counsel investigation by Robert Okay. Hur into his dealing with of categorized paperwork.

Felony referrals, Mr. Jordan stated, had been among the many choices “on the desk” because the Home G.O.P. strikes ahead.

Consultant James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the Oversight Committee, has repeatedly advised in latest weeks that issuing legal referrals might mark the tip of the impeachment inquiry, somewhat than an impeachment vote.

“On the finish of the day, what does accountability appear to be? It appears like legal referrals. It appears like referring folks to the Division of Justice,” Mr. Comer stated in a latest interview with Fox Information’s Sean Hannity. “If Merrick Garland’s Division of Justice received’t take any potential legal referrals critically, then perhaps the subsequent president, with a brand new lawyer basic, will.”

The shift to exploring legal referrals got here after Mr. Comer had what his aides say was an opportunity assembly final month with Mr. Trump in Florida. A spokeswoman for Mr. Comer wouldn’t touch upon what was mentioned, however stated that whereas having lunch with Vernon Hill, a banker who has donated to Mr. Trump’s campaigns, the chairman unexpectedly bumped into Mr. Trump and so they had a quick 10-minute dialog.

The potential change in technique additionally comes as Republicans have misplaced seats within the Home, making impeachment all of the extra unlikely. With the departure subsequent week of Consultant Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, the social gathering will likely be right down to 218 votes within the Home, a naked majority of the 435-member physique.

On Thursday, Speaker Mike Johnson confirmed that Republican leaders had been discussing the opportunity of legal referrals.

In a quick interview on the Capitol, he made clear that impeaching President Biden was not his prime precedence for the time being, saying he’d been “just a little busy with appropriations.” However he stated Home management would think about whether or not to situation legal referrals.

“There’s extra deliberation to be achieved on it — that’s for positive,” he stated.

Consultant Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and an in depth ally of President Trump, has been amongst these arguing for Home Republicans to situation legal referrals towards Mr. Biden and his members of the family.

“He deserves them,” Mr. Gaetz stated of Mr. Biden.

Mr. Gaetz added that it was clear that Republicans didn’t have the votes for impeachment.

“I don’t assume {that a} adequate variety of Republicans maintain the view I do {that a} bribe could be consummated by a cost to a member of the family,” stated Mr. Gaetz, who has alleged that Hunter Biden’s revenue from abroad corporations was little greater than a bribery scheme. However he added that ought to Mr. Trump win election, he might set up new personnel atop the Justice Division who might pursue prosecutions based mostly on the Republicans’ referrals.

“The D.O.J. is about to vary arms,” Mr. Gaetz stated. “It’s about to be underneath new administration.”

Felony referrals could be a politically simpler transfer for Home Republicans than impeachment. They don’t require a vote of Congress and even carry any authorized weight. Mr. Comer might merely draft a letter laying out the allegations.

The Democratic-run particular Home committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol made main headlines within the final Congress with its legal referrals of Mr. Trump. (He was later charged by the Justice Division with crimes associated to the plan to overturn the 2020 election.)

Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands, the highest Democrat on the Judiciary panel on the weaponization of presidency, stated Republicans had been merely attempting to salvage a flailing investigation. Republicans took a brutal blow when one of many key items of proof they touted was discredited by the Justice Department.

“They notice that they don’t have the votes for an impeachment as a result of they don’t have the proof,” stated Ms. Plaskett. “However they acknowledge that by a legal referral, it’s going to take a while, if there’s a referral, for it to work by the Justice Division, which supplies them further fodder throughout the election cycle. They’re simply attempting to create some form of false equivalency between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which isn’t there.”

Even some Republicans stated a referral towards Mr. Biden may not make sense, citing the Justice Department’s policy against prosecuting a sitting president.

“We don’t refer a seated president for legal expenses,” stated Consultant Darrell Issa, Republican of California. He added that Republicans can refer the president’s members of the family based mostly on proof they’ve found, “however most of what we’ve found they already knew.”

Consultant Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana, who as a member of the Oversight Committee participated within the closed-door deposition of Hunter Biden, stated he believed the investigation had “clearly” crossed the edge of affordable suspicion of the Biden household however had not but established “possible trigger” that the president had dedicated a criminal offense.

“If our investigation reveals that impeachment shouldn’t be a righteous pursuit, maybe a legal referral is,” Mr. Higgins stated.

However Mr. Higgins additionally advised Home Republicans might merely let the voters determine.

“It’s a a lot heavier raise for impeachment. So I might say that it doesn’t matter what the Oversight Committee does, the American individuals are going to have a chance in November to decide.”

Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.



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