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As Biden Impeachment Flails, House Republicans Explore Criminal Referrals

Facing the prospect that they may never be able to impeach President Biden, House Republicans are exploring a pivot to a different strategy: issuing criminal referrals against him and those close to him.

In recent weeks, a political and factual reality has set in on Capitol Hill. Despite their subpoenas and depositions, House Republicans have been unable to produce any solid evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden and lack the votes in their own party to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment.

Instead, top G.O.P. lawmakers have begun strategizing about making criminal referrals against Mr. Biden, members of his family and his associates, essentially sending letters to the Justice Department urging prosecutors to investigate specific crimes they believe may have been committed.

The move would be largely symbolic, but it would allow Republicans in Congress to save face while ending their so far struggling impeachment inquiry. It has the added appeal 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 would avoid a repeat of the humiliating process House Republicans, who have a tiny and dwindling majority, went through last month with the impeachment of Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary. After initially falling short of the votes to impeach Mr. Mayorkas, Republicans barely succeeded on the second try, only to realize that the Democratic-controlled Senate was poised to quickly acquit him — or even dismiss the charges without a trial.

“There’s nothing that I’ve heard in the last couple of weeks that says that we are anywhere close to having the votes” for impeachment, said Representative Kelly Armstrong, Republican of North Dakota and the author of the resolution authorizing the impeachment investigation.

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