House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given in to the crazies in the Republican caucus and agreed to move forward with an impeachment investigation into President Biden.
This impeachment effort will be much different than either of the impeachment investigations into former President Donald Trump in large part because it’s not actually clear what Biden might have done wrong to warrant such a significant undertaking. There were multiple credible whistleblowers and mounds of evidence against Trump in both of his impeachment trials; this impeachment effort seems to be more of an investigation in search of a problem.
As The Washington Post reports:
McCarthy said Tuesday he is directing House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, amid pressure from some hard-right members of the Republican caucus to do so.
The inquiry would center on whether Biden benefited from his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, among other issues, McCarthy said.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption and warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday morning. “That’s why today I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” [Pols emphasis]
McCarthy spoke for three minutes, did not take any questions and left the lectern shortly after making his remarks. McCarthy has previously said he would not launch an inquiry without a vote by the full house.
If you’re wondering how serious McCarthy is taking this impeachment effort, look no further than his brief comments this morning: “Allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption” is such a nebulous statement that it could apply to just about anyone in Washington D.C.
Why, then, is McCarthy doing this? It’s simple, really: There are enough right-wing MAGA lunatics in his caucus that are demanding impeachment hearings — including (not)BFFs Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert — that McCarthy risks a challenge to his speakership if he doesn’t at least go through the motions of an investigation. As POLITICO explains:
It’s a huge win for conservatives, who have pressured the California Republican for months to move existing investigations into the Democratic president into a formal impeachment inquiry. Some members of McCarthy’s right flank have openly threatened to try to strip him of the House gavel if their demands weren’t met
Remember, back when McCarthy was waiting longer than anyone since before the Civil War to get enough votes to become House Speaker, one of the concessions he made was to change the rules so that any one Member of the House could call for a vote for a new Speaker. McCarthy apparently feels like he’ll lose his gavel if he doesn’t play along with a Biden impeachment investigation.
Side Note: This is the difference between being the Republican leader in the House of Representatives and directing the GOP caucus in the Senate. In order to keep his job as House Speaker, McCarthy had little choice but to give in to the lunatics demanding an impeachment hearing for President Biden — even if nobody is really sure why Biden should be impeached. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell only needed to prove that he was still a relatively-functional human being in order to maintain his job as Senate Minority Leader.
It is also unclear just how plausible an impeachment inquiry might be for McCarthy. Let’s go back to POLITICO:
So far, McCarthy doesn’t have 218 GOP votes needed to launch an impeachment inquiry. He and other top Republicans have tried to characterize such a step as strengthening their investigative power, rather than a concrete move toward attempting to boot the president from office — semantics that matter to centrist Republicans.
So this is just a “kinda impeachment”?
Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has been speaking out quite a bit lately on his opposition to an impeachment of President Biden. Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon is also not on board, telling POLITICO:
“As of now I don’t support [an impeachment inquiry]. I think an inquiry should be based on evidence of a crime that points directly to President Biden, or if the President doesn’t cooperate by not providing documents. There’s clearly corruption with Hunter using his Dad’s name to earn tens of millions of dollars. But impeachment needs to be about the dad, not the son.” [Pols emphasis]
McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republican votes in his thin majority; Buck and Bacon drop that number to two. There are 18 other vulnerable “centrist” Republicans who are definitely nervous about this given that they represent districts that Biden won in 2020.
The other problem with McCarthy’s announcement is that it removes impeachment as a potential bargaining chip with the White House over a looming government shutdown. The impeachment stuff is making news today, but it won’t be the top story for long once it becomes obvious that McCarthy doesn’t have a way to convince House Republicans — particularly those in the “Freedom Caucus” — to avert a shutdown at the end of the month.