GOP shouldn't move forward with Biden impeachment probe unless there's a conviction: Sununu

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME

(WASHINGTON) -- While there are "very real" and "incredibly serious" allegations against President Joe Biden's family, investigations into them must "play out in court" before congressional Republicans move forward with any impeachment-related proceedings, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu argued on Sunday.

"We have to find out what all the evidence is," Sununu said in an appearance on ABC's "This Week," in a break with a push by others in his party, such as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

"If found guilty, yes, I think Congress should definitely take something up," Sununu said.

"I think they're really, really far from really figuring out what the realities there are," he continued. "But those are very serious accusations that have to be followed up, for sure."

Last week, a plea deal struck between federal prosecutors and the president's son Hunter Biden fell apart -- at least temporarily -- leading Hunter Biden to plead not guilty to tax charges. Prosecutors said in court during the plea deal hearing that their investigation of Hunter Biden was ongoing.

Separately, GOP lawmakers have highlighted an unverified FBI source report alleging that, years ago, a Ukrainian oligarch paid Joe and Hunter Biden $10 million, apparently in return for favors.

The White House adamantly denies this, saying it was investigated under the Trump administration and "debunked."

"It's clear that congressional Republicans are dead-set on playing shameless, dishonest politics and refuse to let truth get in the way," a White House spokesman said earlier this month.

Both the president and his aides have repeatedly said he didn't get involved in his son's business dealings, though conservatives claim otherwise.

On "This Week," Sununu suggested that Republicans should shift their focus to much more pressing issues in the "everyday lives of Americans," such as concerns about the border and the "opioid crisis."

"America has got amazing problems around mental health, around the opioid crisis, fighting to secure the border, having somebody in Washington, D.C., have some fiscal sanity -- because even Republicans don't do a very good job of that lately," Sununu said.

A popular four-term governor, Sununu recently said will not run for reelection next year. He had considered a run for the White House but ultimately declined, worrying that too many competitors in the GOP primary field would help Trump, of whom he remains a vocal critic.

While it's unclear what Sununu plans to do after leaving office, he said on "This Week" that "I'm going to make sure Trump isn't the candidate" in 2024 and he made his case for why other GOP candidates have a real shot despite early polls showing Trump is the front-runner.

"Of course he was going to be at the top. He's got the name ID, the recognition, all of that." Sununu said. But, pointing to some state-level polls showing Trump without a majority, he said "the fact that the majority of Republicans clearly don't want him -- that's an opportunity."

"This is not the Donald Trump of 2016. Don't fool yourself," Sununu contended. "And as more and more folks realize that, he doesn't have the energy, he doesn't have the fast ball. ... The only thing worse is the rerun of a soap opera, and that's what he's bringing."

Trump, for his part, has derided Sununu as a "nasty guy."

For other primary competitors to lead, "it's about galvanizing," Sununu advised on "This Week." "That's what it takes."

"Trump cannot actually win the votes in November of '24 -- he can get the nomination, but he can't actually close the deal against Biden," Sununu said. "So, if you're going to support Trump, you're going to hand it to the Biden and Kamala Harris administration. That is not a good thing. And that's why I think a lot of these other candidates are going to have an opportunity to surge."

Sununu said he believes that following the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary early next year, the wide GOP field will narrow down to a one-on-one race against Trump -- though that challenger is not yet set. Sununu spoke positively of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, entrepreneur and commentator Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, currently polling in second.

"I think you'll see four, five, maybe six [candidates] come into Iowa," which would be less than half of the current list, Sununu said. "Three or four or five maybe come into New Hampshire. And then everything kind of falls from there."

But if Trump does win the nomination again, Sununu, although complimentary toward No Labels, a bipartisan third-party group, indicated he would not back their prospective "unity" ticket over the bigger goal.

"The Republican nominee is not going to be Donald Trump," he insisted.

Sunday, July 30, 2023 at 1:47PM by Kelsey Walsh, ABC News Permalink