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Top US House Republican denies deal with Trump to expunge impeachments

Top US House Republican denies deal with Trump to expunge impeachments © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy holds a media availability in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

By Moira Warburton and Josephine Walker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Thursday he did not promise Donald Trump that he would pass a measure aimed at expunging the former president’s two impeachments.

“There’s no deal,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told NBC following a report by the Politico news outlet that he had made such an agreement with Trump, the current front-runner for his party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

A Trump representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s House allies are rallying around him as he braces for a pair of potential criminal indictments for his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat – one from U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith and another in Fulton County, Georgia.

No. 4 House Republican Elise Stefanik and hardline Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene last month introduced a bill aimed at expunging Trump’s historic two impeachments, from 2019 and 2021. Both impeachments passed the then-Democratic-controlled House but in each case Senate Republicans voted to acquit him.

There is no historical precedent for expunging an impeachment, but Greene said that would not stop her from pushing the measure forward.

“We’re lawmakers. We can do things that haven’t been done before, and this one certainly needs to be done,” Greene told reporters, calling Trump’s impeachments “an embarrassment, a stain on our history, and they shouldn’t have happened.”

It is a move, however, that could make more moderate House Republicans squirm. Some of them are likely to face difficult re-election bids next year in congressional districts that are often closely contested between the two political parties.

Another Trump controversy might be the last thing they would want hovering over their campaigns.

Democrats will be vying to recapture majority control of the House, which is now narrowly held by Republicans with a 222-212 margin, in the November 2024 elections.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, called the idea of an expungement vote “a disgrace.”

NEW INDICTMENTS LOOM

Trump, the only president to have been impeached twice, said on Tuesday he had received a letter from Smith stating that he is a target of a grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat. That would be his third criminal indictment since leaving office.

There is no constitutional provision providing for the House to obliterate the two impeachments approved during a prior Congress. If such a measure were to pass, the historical record of those impeachments would remain, as would the Senate trials that were triggered by the House impeachments.

The House the first time charged Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after he asked Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden, who went on to win the 2020 presidential election, and Biden’s son on unsubstantiated corruption accusations. The second time it charged Trump with inciting an insurrection, relating to the attack on the Capitol by his supporters.

McCarthy voted against impeaching Trump both times. McCarthy on Thursday called both impeachments politically motivated and not based on evidence that Trump had committed a high crime or misdemeanor, as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

McCarthy’s remarks came after Politico reported that Trump was outraged at the speaker for withholding his endorsement of Trump’s third run for the White House. In return for delaying that endorsement, according to Politico, McCarthy promised to work to pass the legislation.

Politico said McCarthy had promised to do so before Congress leaves for an August recess.

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