California Republicans in Democratic-leaning Central Valley districts back impeachment inquiry

Two California Republicans who represent San Joaquin Valley congressional districts with Democratic majorities say they support the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

“I think that there’s been enough preliminary work here to absolutely justify going forward with an inquiry,” Rep. John Duarte, R-Modesto, told Punchbowl. “So I think it’s a great middle step. Let’s just get all the facts out and then decide what goes forward from there.”

“Impeachment is one of the highest powers available to Congress, and not something I take lightly,” Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, told The Bee Thursday.

Duarte and Valadao’s districts, newly drawn in 2022 based on census data, would have voted for Biden by more than a 10% margin in 2020.

Valadao was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He is one of two still in Congress.

“I appreciate that Speaker McCarthy is prioritizing the need for an investigation, facts, and evidence,” Valadao said. “This inquiry makes all investigative tools available to Congress so we can determine the facts and get answers on some of the allegations against President Biden and his family.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched the inquiry into Biden Tuesday over his son’s business dealings. Impeachment experts say it’s the weakest presidential inquiry in history.

“Biden’s Republican pursuers have got exactly zero, zip, bupkis, on any matter that might be impeachable,” Frank Bowman, author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump, told TIME.

The House can impeach a president or other federal officials for committing “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Conviction by the Senate can remove them from office.

Launching a presidential impeachment inquiry was rare until the 1970s. A growing partisan divide, heightened scrutiny and awareness of presidents’ actions, and a desire to limit executive powers have all led Congress to threaten impeachment more often.

The House has voted to impeach former Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Trump in 2019 and 2021. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 to avoid impeachment.

Hard-right Republicans had been calling on McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, to open an inquiry into whether Biden has benefited from the foreign business dealings of his son. Hunter Biden has been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and was indicted Thursday on federal firearms charges.

GOP leaders claim that Biden lied about his knowledge of Hunter’s work.

“Despite these serious allegations, it appears that the president’s family has been offered special treatment by Biden’s own administration,” McCarthy said Tuesday, “treatment he would not otherwise have received if he were not related to the president.”

Duarte and Valadao both had close elections in 2022, with Duarte besting former Assemblyman Adam Gray in California’s 13th Congressional District by less than a point. Valadao defeated former Assemblyman Rudy Salas in the 22nd by three points.

Both will have rematches with those opponents in 2024. Analysts say Duarte’s race is a toss-up. Some forecasters give Valadao a slight edge over Democratic opponents.

“Americans deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials,” Valadao said of the impeachment inquiry, “and I will be closely monitoring the facts that come out of this investigation.”