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Pence backtracks on impeachment comments after McCarthy's U-turn on House floor vote

The former vice president had praised the speaker for pledging to hold a floor vote on opening a Biden impeachment inquiry, but that's not what McCarthy did Tuesday.
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WATERLOO, Iowa — On Monday, former Vice President Mike Pence said he didn’t think an impeachment inquiry should “ever” be started unilaterally and praised House Speaker Kevin McCarthy because he "made it clear that if there is to be an impeachment inquiry, he would submit that to a vote on the floor of the Congress."

On Tuesday, McCarthy launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden — but without following through on his pledge to put it up for a vote. So Pence changed his tune, too. 

“While I would have preferred that Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans take a vote on initiating an impeachment inquiry, I respect the authority and the right they have,” he said Tuesday evening in Waterloo, Iowa. “I defer to their judgment because I believe in the public’s right to know.”

Earlier in the week, Pence had made a positive contrast between McCarthy’s pledge to hold a vote and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi “unilaterally” launching an impeachment inquiry into then-President Donald Trump in September 2019, over allegations that Trump appeared to link U.S. support for Kyiv to an investigation into the Biden family in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

“I watched House Democrats and Nancy Pelosi bring articles of impeachment over a phone call by the president of the United States and even move articles of impeachment after President Trump left office,” Pence said Tuesday, also referencing Trump's second impeachment over his actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. “So I think the American people understand that there’s been politics played in the past with the impeachment process."

Despite his own previous statements, McCarthy blamed Pelosi for changing the precedent on impeachment with her 2019 decision. 

“I warned her not to do it that way in the process, and that’s what she did, so it’s what we did,” McCarthy said Tuesday.

In response to Pelosi launching that 2019 impeachment inquiry, the Trump Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote a memo in early 2020 arguing that an impeachment effort launched without a House vote would lack full investigative authority.

Pence said Tuesday that he was not familiar with that memorandum.