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Romney says he doesn’t see ‘any’ evidence to back House’s Biden impeachment attempt

Mitt Romney is once again making it harder for House Republicans to convince reporters and voters that the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is legitimate.

The retiring Republican senator from Utah, who notably was the only Republican to vote to convict Donald Trump in both of the former president’s two impeachment trials, appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday for an interview with host Kristin Welker.

Mr Romney, 76, is not running for reelection in 2024 and has given his age as one reason for his retirement — a not-so-subtle dig at both Mr Biden and the former president. He has long cast doubt on the legitimacy of the House GOP impeachment effort, which has uncovered much innuendo from the president’s son Hunter regarding his father’s supposed involvement in his son’s business dealings, but no direct evidence actually proving that the elder Biden was involved in or even aware of his son’s boasting.

In the interview with Welker, the Utah Republican said that Mr Biden was not responsible for the alleged crimes of his son, a known sufferer of drug addiction, who is charged with gratuitous amounts of unpaid taxes totalling more than $1m; he is also accused of lying about his drug use history on a form required to purchase a firearm.

“No, I don’t see any evidence of that at all,” the senator responded when asked if he thought it was accurate to accuse the president of “high crimes or misdemeanors”.

Then, he took a sarcastic shot across the bow of James Comer, the Republican Oversight committee chairman leading the House’s impeachment effort: “I think before you begin an impeachment inquiry you ought to have some evidence, some inclination that there’s been wrongdoing.”

It was a quick but encompassing refutation of the entire House GOP’s argument; Republicans in the lower chamber have insisted that the communications between Hunter Biden and his various associates directly implicates his father. Their efforts to have witnesses back that assertion up have wholly flopped, however, as a former close friend of the president’s son billed as a star witness for Republicans ended up testifying to the exact opposite.

Publicly, Mr Biden has made every effort to distance himself from the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into his son. He has said, and repeated himself this week after new tax charged were filed against Hunter, that he will not issue a pardon for his son.

Mr Comer himself appeared on CNN this week to answer questions about the impeachment inquiry from Jake Tapper; Tapper, during the interview, laughed off the congressman’s claim that his inquiry was not politicised.

Any successful effort to remove Mr Biden from the presidency would require two-thirds of the Senate, an impossibility without some kind of major shift in the dynamic of the probe going forward. But the effort is two-pronged; Republicans close to the former president hope that headlines and coverage of the inquiry will serve as a kind of counter-programming to news of Mr Trump’s ongoing legal woes.

The ex-president, who is the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, remains indicted in four separate criminal cases totalling more than 90 felony counts. His charges relate to a wide variety of alleged crimes including his attempts to subvert the 2020 election results and his retention of classified materials at Mar-a-Lago.