The GOP's impeachment push is an attack on democracy
It's about minimizing Trump's misconduct and degrading an important check on the presidency.
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Republicans have openly admitted that their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden — which will begin in earnest this week as House members return to DC from summer break — are in bad faith. They don’t just want to tarnish Biden. They want to tarnish the impeachment process itself.
As the GOP has become increasingly authoritarian and anti-democracy, Republicans have become increasingly committed to undermining and mocking forms of democratic accountability. A nakedly partisan and clownish impeachment is useful because it signals to voters that all impeachments are clown shows, and all impeachments are partisan. That exculpates former President Donald Trump and delegitimizes resistance to him should he win the presidency again.
So many impeachments, so little time
Republicans are absolutely impeachment crazy these days. During the August recess, GOP congressmen and senators regularly went on Fox and talked about impeaching a range of Biden administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and FBI Director Christopher Wray. They’ve been trying to figure out some reason to impeach President Biden basically since there has been a President Biden — and for that matter before he even took office.
Sen. Joni Ernst claimed in February 2020, before Biden had even won the Democratic nomination, that Republicans would immediately impeach him if he became president. She said the pretext should be the (evidence-less, repeatedly debunked) conspiracy theories about his role in his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed articles of impeachment on Biden’s literal first day in office. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon called for him to be impeached a few weeks later on the basis of debunked conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Republicans just kept ramping up the deranged fantasy impeachment bingo from there. By September 2022, Republicans in the then-Democratic controlled House had initiated no less than nine impeachment resolutions.
Some of these resolutions proposed impeaching Biden for (supposedly) failing to control immigration on the Mexican border. Others focused on disputes over the handling of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Still others were based on Republican claims that Biden’s moratorium on evictions during the pandemic was unconstitutional.
Republicans have, though, mostly settled on Hunter Biden as the focus of a possible impeachment inquiry, according to Speaker Kevin McCarthy, though months of investigation has still turned up no wrongdoing by the president. Oversight Committee Chair James Comer made a cottage industry this year of going on right-wing TV and paving the way for Biden’s impeachment by trying to reheat conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden and Burisma — ironically, the very same baseless allegations that played a key role in Trump’s first impeachment.
An alternate approach McCarthy recently mentioned on Fox News could focus on the “weaponization of government” — a term used to mean the use of government resources for partisan purposes. Republicans currently claim Biden is weaponizing the government against former President Donald Trump, who has been indicted for, among other things, conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and for mishandling of government documents after he left office.
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Republicans, in short, seem to want to impeach just to impeach, and then to impeach again. Many of the GOP articles of impeachment are simply expressions of policy differences. They barely even attempt to make a case that Biden has committed the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required in the Constitution.