The House Republican move to start impeachment proceedings against President Biden is an evidence-free nod to party extremists, said Washington Rep. Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.
“It’s just a ridiculous step,” Smith told “The Takeout.” “This is just another example of how extreme and partisan this Republican majority it.”
Asked if Republicans have produced evidence of corruption linking Mr. Biden to his son Hunter Biden, Smith replied, “No, they’ve had a couple of people who have said they believe that it happened, and then they’ve investigated at incredible length, and they’ve found no evidence whatsoever to back it up.”
Smith acknowledged what he called “an incredibly complicated relationship” between the president and his son. House Republicans have alleged Hunter Biden’s various business dealing enriched the Biden family and have suggested, without providing hard evidence, that the president profited. Republicans have established that the elder Biden did participate in phone calls Hunter held with business associates, which the president had originally denied.
Look, money doesn’t just disappear in the modern world,” Smith said. “If Joe Biden as vice president or at any point in his career had been given the amount of money that they’re claiming he had been given, it would be somewhere. They haven’t found it because it didn’t happen. It’s 100% clear that no part of that relationship has led to any money winding up in Joe Biden’s pocket. That is absolutely obvious at this point.”
Smith also said he expects a partial government shutdown due to the inability of House Republicans to pass spending bills or agree on a short-term measure to keep the government operating a full strength.
“I could well be wrong about that,” Smith said, “but the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, they are insisting on a lot of things in order to vote to the keep the government open. More big picture, I worry that the right wing of the Republican Party no longer believes in democracy. They believe in getting their way. If they don’t get their way, they will destroy whatever they have to destroy to show people that they’re not happy about it.”
As an example, Smith pointed to Alabama GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who has blocked military promotions over a Pentagon policy that reimburses service personnel for travel from states with restrictive abortion laws to states with more permissive access to abortion and abortion-related services.
“My suggestion for Tuberville,” Smith said, “is Joe Biden’s president. He won the election. If you don’t like his policy, go to work on getting him un-elected next year. Support your candidate, but don’t impede the ability of the United States military to do its job. Keep in mind that the government’s not paying for any reproductive care services. They’re not paying for abortions. They’re merely allowing a person in the military to travel from one place to another. You can have that debate, but you don’t have to shut down the United States military because you didn’t get your way.”
Smith also voiced strong support for Mr. Biden’s request for $21 billion in new assistance for Ukraine, with $13 billion devoted to additional military equipment and munitions.
“The only way to get to a peaceful resolution is to convince Putin that he has been stopped,” Smith said. “As long as he thinks that his Marxist goals of basically taking over Ukraine are still on the table, he’s going to keep fighting. Which is why the counteroffensive is so important to blunt the attack from Russia. If Ukraine is able to retake territory, that puts us in the best position to get to peace. If we pull the rug out from under them right now, Putin will keep fighting. It will lengthen the war.”
Smith also, spoke at length about his years-long battle with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. He chronicled his arduous journey in a new book, “Lost and Broken.” The worst of it began in 2016 after this third hip surgery.
“I was in massive amounts of pain,” Smith said. “I was on a whole bunch of different drugs. The anxiety was worse than ever. I was on anti-anxiety meds as well as anti-pain meds and I just wasn’t getting any better. And so the story I tell is how did I get to that point? And then crucially, how did I get out of it?”
At times, Smith said the combination of pain, anxiety and depression made him wonder if he could get out of bed.
“Every day I woke up in utter fear,” Smith said. “I knew I had to get out of bed because if I didn’t, I was going to waste away lying there. But I was in pain. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I could do.”
Smith said the anxiety began in 2005, disappeared for some years and returned when pain and depression began to trigger feelings of dread.
“The analogy I draw is like every day, you know, a homicidal maniac was running at me with a machete,” Smith said. “That’s how I felt constantly.”
Smith’s book also explains how it took years of searching to find the right treatments to tame the three ailments.
“It took me a very long time and a whole series of therapists to get to those answers,” Smith said.
“I’m outstanding,” Smith said. “It’s long story, but I understand my brain. I understand my body. I’m as healthy both mentally and physically as I’ve probably been, since I was 12 years old.”
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com