The impeachment inquiry House Republicans have launched against President Joe Biden is a transparent, shameless and embarrassingly weak attempt at political retribution.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has launched the probe not because it has merit but because the most extreme members of his party demanded it to damage Biden’s re-election prospects. They threatened to shut down the government and boot McCarthy from the speaker’s chair if he refused to play along (and don’t be surprised if they do it anyway).
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Biden acted improperly regarding his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine — a line of inquiry based on repeatedly debunked claims. And the audacity of focusing on Ukraine is not lost on those who recall then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment in 2019. Trump was accused of pushing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son while withholding $400 million in congressionally approved military aid. Given how Trump’s 2019 efforts blew up in his face, it is odd that House Republicans would want to go there again.
Several years of investigations by multiple Republican-led House committees have turned up nothing on the president. Republicans even acknowledge this.
“I think before we move on to (an) impeachment inquiry, … there should be a direct link to the president in some evidence,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told The Hill. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a thoroughly conservative member of the House Freedom Caucus, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post dismantling the case for impeachment. “Republicans in the House who are itching for an impeachment are relying on an imagined history,” he wrote.
Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, told Forbes he is “not seeing facts or evidence at this point” that justify an impeachment inquiry. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., told CNN, “There is a constitutional and legal test that you have to meet with evidence. I have not seen that evidence.”
In 2019, Trump hoped that just the mere announcement of an investigation would hang a cloud of wrongdoing over Biden’s head, according to testimony from former U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland before the House impeachment committee. And now, by converting House Republicans’ fruitless committee investigations into an impeachment inquiry, Republicans aim to ensure that Trump won’t be the only candidate on the 2024 ballot with an impeachment-stained record.
The sketchy launch of this impeachment inquiry is a telltale sign that it lacks merit. McCarthy’s longtime position had been that launching an impeachment inquiry without a full vote of the House renders the inquiry “devoid of any merit or legitimacy.”
At the beginning of this month, McCarthy told Breitbart News: “If we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person.” Just 11 days later, McCarthy reversed himself and made the declaration.
In the modern era, the House has launched a presidential impeachment inquiry only when it had concrete allegations against the president:
—In 1974, when the House launched its impeachment inquiry of Richard Nixon over Watergate, the Senate Watergate Committee and the special prosecutors investigating the break-in and cover-up had already produced reams of damning material.
—In 1998, Democrats howled when House Republicans impeached then-President Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice. But however politically driven that impeachment was, at least the House had the 453-page Starr Report in its hands when it decided to launch its impeachment inquiry.
—In 2019, Trump’s first impeachment inquiry was launched after a whistleblower alleged that Trump had abused the powers of his office by extorting Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
—In 2021, the House impeached Trump a second time on a single article of impeachment that charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” against the U.S. government and “lawless action at the Capitol” without need for an inquiry or hearings, as House members had gathered plenty of evidence as direct eyewitnesses to the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
The Constitution sets a relatively low bar for the House to impeach a president, and the bar is even lower for an impeachment inquiry. But the Republicans still don’t meet it: you need some evidence of wrongdoing, and they don’t have any.
This baseless impeachment inquiry is a disgraceful misuse of what the Constitution intended as a fundamental tool of accountability.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Tom Moore is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund where he focuses on democracy and government reform. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
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