In Search of the ‘Impeachable Whatever’
House Republicans’ endless quest for grounds to impeach President Biden.
WAY BACK IN FEBRUARY 2020, nine months before Joe Biden was elected president and nearly a year before he took office, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa predicted that Republicans would act quickly to impeach him. The most likely reason, she said, was the conspiracy theory, which by that time had already been thoroughly debunked, that Biden as vice president had pushed for the removal of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to protect his son.
Ernst did not explain why this fabrication was an impeachable offense while, in her estimation and that of other Republicans, Trump’s threat to block aid to Ukraine unless President Zelensky dug up dirt on Biden—the substance of Trump’s then–just concluding first impeachment—was not. But Ernst nonetheless felt that “this door of impeachable whatever has been opened.”
Since then, the GOP has been on a mission to find that impeachable whatever. But the specific alleged misdeeds that would justify seeking Biden’s ouster have never been as important as the determination to impeach him.
“There has been no consensus among supporters of impeachment as to what the root offenses for an impeachment should be,” observes Wikipedia near the top of a 7,000-word entry titled, “Efforts to impeach Joe Biden.” The entry includes a chart listing the ten House resolutions to impeach Biden that were introduced in the 117th Congress (2021-22) and four (so far) in the 118th (2023-24).
The most ardent supporter of a Biden impeachment is Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the lead sponsor of six of the resolutions. Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert comes in second with two, one in each session. In June, the two congresswomen got into a spat on the House floor over their dueling impeachment resolutions, with Greene accusing Boebert, whom she reportedly called a “little bitch,” of stealing from Greene’s resolution. The Daily Beast, citing two sources, said Greene “alleged that Boebert ‘copied my articles of impeachment,’ to which the Colorado lawmaker fired back that she hadn’t even read Greene’s resolution.”
Greene’s first impeachment resolution was introduced January 21, 2021, the day after Biden was sworn in. It concerned Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, purportedly aided by his dad. “Through blatant nepotism,” it alleges, Joe Biden “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government.” Hmm, whom does that remind you of?
Other Greene impeachment resolutions in the 117th Congress called for booting Biden for extending a COVID-19 moratorium on evictions, mishandling U.S./Mexico border security, withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and endangering the nation’s energy security by selling oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to foreign nations. Afghanistan was an understandably popular subject among would-be impeachers during that session: Boebert’s impeachment offering was over the chaotic U.S. withdrawal; a resolution by Andy Weber of Texas was also pegged to Biden’s actions concerning Afghanistan.
Also in the last Congress, Rep. Bill Posey of Florida felt that Biden’s COVID-19 and border policies should force his removal from office. And Rep. Louie Gohmert cited all the foregoing reasons and more—Afghanistan, COVID-19 policy, and border security, as well as lower-profile malfeasance such as Biden’s withdrawal of approval for the Keystone pipeline and his revocation of Trump’s executive order addressing “the threat that TikTok posed to Americans”—as reasons to impeach.
Gohmert’s resolution concluded by saying Biden “has brought disrepute, contempt, ridicule and disgrace on the Presidency”—as opposed, of course, to Donald Trump.
IN THE 118TH CONGRESS, Rep. Greene’s lone impeachment resolution (so far) deals with border security. It says President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security “has willfully refused to maintain operational control of the border,” which has “directly led to an increase in illegal aliens and illegal narcotics, including deadly fentanyl, entering the United States.” The resolution also says the Biden administration is breaking the law by “releasing illegal aliens into the interior of the United States.” It accuses Biden of having “created an environment of lawlessness to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
Greene’s resolution was introduced on May 18 and referred to the House Committee of the Judiciary. No further action has been taken.
Boebert’s latest resolution, meanwhile, was introduced on June 13. It accuses Biden of abuse of power and dereliction of duty for “pursuing an aggressive, open-borders agenda by purposefully and knowingly releasing more than 2,000,000 illegal aliens into the interior of the United States without the intention or ability to ensure that they appear in immigration court to face asylum or deportation proceedings.” It says Biden has “demonstrated a failure to uphold Federal immigration law, violating his oath to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with the rule of law and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.” It’s certainly interesting how much she echoed Greene’s resolution without ever even reading it.
On June 22, Boebert’s resolution was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security as well as to the Judiciary Committee. No further action has been taken, but the fact that Republicans voted along party lines to refer this resolution to committee promptly spurred false claims that Biden was actually impeached. It doesn’t take much to get some folks to believe things that aren’t true.
The other two pending impeachment resolutions are from Rep. Posey, reprising his argument that Biden’s immigration policies constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, and Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee, over “the ongoing border crisis” and Biden’s dastardly efforts “to shield the business and influence peddling schemes of his family from congressional oversight and public accountability.”
Trump himself has repeatedly urged the impeachment of Joe Biden, whom he calls, without a trace of irony, “the most corrupt president in the history of the United States.”
THESE NEVER-ENDING AND MULTIFARIOUS EFFORTS to impeach Biden were given new energy last week when House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the information coming to light about Hunter Biden and his dad “is rising to the level of impeachment inquiry.”
As Joe Perticone reported for The Bulwark, McCarthy’s nod of approval toward the notion that Biden ought to be impeached is not universally supported, with Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado calling it “impeachment theater” and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida saying “I’m generally not a fan of impeachment. I think it makes us look like . . . a third world country.” But McCarthy’s “new openness to the cause,” Perticone notes, “represents a major step forward for House GOP advocates of the retaliatory mission to punish Joe Biden and the Democrats” on Trump’s behalf.
They agree. Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said McCarthy’s remarks have “caused a paradigm shift” in terms of the viability of a Biden impeachment. Chirped his fellow caucus member, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, “The Biden regime is coming to an end!” He added. “If we don’t have enough evidence now, I don’t know what it’s going to take.”
On Sunday, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina told Fox News that while “the evidence that we’ve seen [regarding Hunter Biden] is overwhelmingly piling up,” Republicans should not move forward without a rock-solid case. “We have to show overwhelming, undeniable evidence in order to move this thing forward, and if we can’t, then we should not.”
And if that happens, no biggie. There will always be something else to impeach Biden about.
Last Friday, Biden joked about the GOP’s apparent wide net when it comes to possible reasons for removing him from office—which, it should be noted, do not include instigating an attack on the U.S. Capitol. “Earlier this week, the Washington Post suggested Republicans may have to find something else to criticize me for, now that inflation is coming down,” the president said during a speech in Maine. “Maybe they’ll decide to impeach me because it’s coming down.”
Maybe they will.
In January 2022, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas mused that Biden might be impeached “whether it’s justified or not” if Republicans gained control of the House, which they have since done. While he wasn’t sure what Biden might be impeached for, Cruz claimed there were “multiple grounds to consider,” including “the utter lawlessness of President Biden’s refusal to enforce the border.” He said this was “probably the strongest grounds right now for impeachment, but there may be others.”
Cruz said “Democrats weaponized impeachment” by twice voting “for partisan purposes to go after Trump because they disagreed with him.” Now they must face the fact that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” In other words, the best reason Republicans have for impeaching Biden comes down to this: They started it. Following McCarthy’s remarks last week, the Hill quoted Sen. John Cornyn of Texas explaining why Biden’s impeachment may be forthcoming: “When you impeach a president twice, then what goes around comes around, unfortunately.”
With grounds like this, it’s a wonder Biden hasn’t already been impeached.
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