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Week in politics: House Republicans lead impeachment inquiry; lead-up to the shutdown

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And we'll stay in the House of Representatives for a moment and take a look at what the members there were doing this week while they were not making certain the government funding - the government remained funded. We'll begin there with NPR senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: House Republicans did find time this week to lead a hearing on impeaching President Biden. Did it seem to convince many of those who've been undecided?

ELVING: The first hearing did happen this week, but it made little news because it contained little that was new. The House members who are driving this process all seemed to have seen a movie in their heads called "The Biden Crime Family." But it's not a movie most of the country has ever seen. We're told it's based on a true story, but we have yet to see the movie as they describe it. This week's event included a well-known law professor, Jonathan Turley. He's testified in Hill hearings before. Republicans called on him to testify. But this time he said he had yet to see evidence to justify impeachment. And that seemed rather the opposite of what they wanted to hear.

SIMON: Ron, what is your post-game analysis of the Republican presidential contenders who debated Wednesday at the Reagan Presidential Library?

ELVING: Millions watched the debate at the Reagan Library this week. You have to wonder how many of them saw a president, much less a Reagan-like president, amidst all that crosstalk and bickering. Half of the candidates seemed to be running for vice president if there's another Trump term in the White House. The other half were former Trump supporters who have turned against him, such as Chris Christie, Mike Pence and sometimes Nikki Haley. The latter group seemed to be staking a claim in a world that could come after Trump, hoping that such a world will be reality sooner rather than later.

SIMON: And, Ron, let's play a bit of President Biden speaking in Arizona Thursday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The MAGA extremists across the country have made it clear where they stand. So the challenge for the rest of America, for the majority of Americans, is to make clear where we stand. Do we still believe in the Constitution?

SIMON: That's just an extraordinary question in these times, isn't it?

ELVING: Yes, rather stark and fundamental and perhaps a foretaste of the Biden campaign against Trump in 2024. You know, the constitutional issue was again the theme on Friday, yesterday, when Biden attended the ceremony for the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, a man who has clashed with Trump himself. And this time it was Milley who made the point that the oath the military swears is to the Constitution and, Milley said, not to a king or a queen or to a tyrant or a dictator. And we don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator.

SIMON: Senator Dianne Feinstein left us after more than 30 years in the Senate - first became a national figure following the assassination of her - the San Francisco mayor.

ELVING: Yes. That was 45 years ago, a lifetime. All but overcome with emotion herself, she went before the cameras with the news and then took the reins of a city in shock and mourning. And in the decades since, she led a breakthrough for women in the Senate and became the longest-serving woman in Senate history. She has earned her rest.

SIMON: Ron Elving, thank you.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

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