‘Bring it on’
Republican Speaker of the U.S. House Kevin McCarthy recently announced an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
Democrats should reply, “Bring it on.”
It’s no secret how McCarthy’s announcement came about. The hard-right wing of his party in the House had threatened to depose him as speaker if he didn’t launch an inquiry. And former President Trump has been vociferously urging Biden’s impeachment for some time, both as revenge for his own two impeachments and as a way to detract attention from his four current court indictments.
Less than two weeks before he announced the Biden impeachment inquiry, McCarthy had said he would not authorize a Biden impeachment inquiry without a vote of the full House. That would be standard procedure: to consider an inquiry only after House committees had gathered information, subpoenaed potential witnesses, and debated the proposal in committee meetings.
But it became clear that a House vote for the inquiry would likely fail, with several Republicans already speaking out against it unless more evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden emerged. So hard-right Republicans forced McCarthy’s hand.
The hard-liners also are piling on by threatening to let the government shut down on Sept. 30 (this Saturday) unless McCarthy agrees to their demands for sharp spending cuts for the 2023-24 federal budget year, which begins Oct. 1.
Under new rules approved at the start of the current House session, it now takes only one member to force a “motion to vacate” (a vote to remove the speaker). Because the House is only narrowly Republican, it would take just a handful of Republicans, plus the Democratic caucus, to then vote McCarthy out of the speakership. Whether all Democrats would vote against McCarthy in that situation is unknown.
All these factors induced McCarthy to order the Biden impeachment inquiry without further proceedings. The question, of course, is whether there’s enough evidence of supposed Biden wrongdoing to bring about his impeachment.
The answer right now is “no.” Republican investigations have been ongoing for years, with no firm evidence yet brought forth. GOP committees have been looking into supposed misdeeds by President Biden, centering on suggested financial corruption in concert with his son Hunter Biden.
Hunter Biden was indicted two weeks ago for falsely denying that he was an illegal drug abuser when he applied for a gun permit in 2018. He’s also under investigation for allegedly failing to pay taxes on about $4 million of income in 2017 and 2018.
Former President Trump fought mightily to avoid handing over subpoenaed documents during his impeachments, and has continued to do so in connection with his four current indictments. Those refusals suggest there’s fire where there’s smoke. Nothing prevents Trump from turning over documents, so long as they’re not legally classified and therefore unavailable to the public or the judicial eye.
President Biden would do well to learn from Trump’s recalcitrance: give investigators whatever can legally be revealed, and cooperate with requests and subpoenas whenever possible. Biden and his White House team insist the President has done nothing wrong. If that’s the case, he should be more than willing to prove it by cooperating with the House inquiry.
Biden can weaken his Republican opposition by cooperating. The more the inquiry shows “there’s no there there,” the weaker his opponents are shown to be. The President should jump at that opportunity.