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

In current 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 celebration 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 consider could have been dedicated.

The transfer can be largely symbolic, however it will enable Republicans in Congress to save lots of face whereas ending their up to now 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 will keep away from a repeat of the humiliating course of Home Republicans, who’ve a tiny and dwindling majority, went by means of 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 understand that the Democratic-controlled Senate was poised to quickly acquit him — and even dismiss the costs with no trial.

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

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

“I’m nonetheless excited about 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 aren’t completed with their investigation, and will nonetheless change course and resolve 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 Ok. Hur into his dealing with of labeled paperwork.

Prison 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 recommended in current 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 seem like? It seems to be like legal referrals. It seems to be like referring individuals to the Division of Justice,” Mr. Comer stated in a current interview with Fox Information’s Sean Hannity. “If Merrick Garland’s Division of Justice gained’t take any potential legal referrals significantly, then perhaps the following president, with a brand new legal professional common, 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 they usually 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 celebration can 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 in the meanwhile, saying he’d been “just a little busy with appropriations.” However he stated Home management would take into account whether or not to difficulty legal referrals.

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

Consultant Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a detailed ally of President Trump, has been amongst these arguing for Home Republicans to difficulty 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 suppose {that a} adequate variety of Republicans maintain the view I do {that a} bribe will be consummated by means of a cost to a member of the family,” stated Mr. Gaetz, who has alleged that Hunter Biden’s revenue from abroad firms 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 primarily based on the Republicans’ referrals.

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

Prison referrals can 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 means of the Justice Division, which provides 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 costs,” stated Consultant Darrell Issa, Republican of California. He added that Republicans can refer the president’s members of the family primarily based 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 brink of cheap 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 just isn’t a righteous pursuit, maybe a legal referral is,” Mr. Higgins stated.

However Mr. Higgins additionally recommended Home Republicans might merely let the voters resolve.

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

Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.



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