Terry H. Schwadron
Aug. 30, 2023
We’re headed directly into another budget showdown when Congress returns next week, along with the usual unresolved stews over holding up military promotions for abortion pique, the various failures from broken immigration and a new school year without adequate numbers of teachers.
Plus hurricane season has begun, wildfire season won’t end, and none of this affects the supermarket prices drawing gripes.
Naturally, the talk of the House is about launching an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden over vague assertions involving his son, Hunter, and his ham-handed attempts to wield the family name as business influence a decade ago.
Indeed, as TheHill.com describes it, “House Republicans are barreling toward an impeachment inquiry,” quoting some of the most aggressive members basically to the point that any lack of evidence of a (vice) presidential high crime or misdemeanor is not needed at this point.
Even some Republicans, including Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., disagree on whether there is a sufficient case to be made, but anyone reading the remarks of Senate Republicans and Democrats in both houses shows that impeachment will be unsuccessful by numbers alone.
Nevertheless, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., fueled the smoldering impeachment flames by telling Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo that the inquiry’s time may have arrived. He said enough information has been unearthed by the House Oversight Committee to justify formalizing more questions.
Not only are Republicans missing the boat with gauzy assertions, but their reasoning is also faulty: This effort clearly is a wrongly sought-for electoral balancing to counter criminal charges against Donald Trump on 91 felony charges in four cases.
But nothing about a Biden impeachment inquiry is going to make those criminal charges disappear. — just as are parallel House Republican committee demands for copies of any emails between Georgia and federal prosecutors will not derail Trump’s trials.
What is the Question?
We have seen a continuing spiral of would-be evidence and aggressiveness by Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and others in declaring even the vaguest interviews or emails as damning — even when the content seems not to support the idea of bribes to former Vice President Biden.
Now, McCarthy said whether he launches an inquiry hinges on whether the Biden administration expeditiously produces documents and information that House Republicans are seeking about communications from 2014 and 2015, as well as personal bank records and other information that Biden’s allies say is not even clear.
It is too easy to see this all as direct personal politics.
McCarthy needs constantly to assuage his most aggressive Freedom Caucus members to stay in the speaker job, Republicans need to show results of their inquiries to date, and, in the background, Donald Trump is demanding that Republicans act on his behalf by slamming foe Biden. In a post on Truth Social, Donald Trump demanded that House Republicans launch the impeachment inquiry, accusing Biden of engaging in corrupt activities. “Either IMPEACH the BUM or fade into OBLIVION. THEY DID IT TO US!” read the post.
How is this not to be seen as partisan politics. But it remains the case, that even if the House votes to create a formal inquiry, which grants additional subpoena power, doing so will not erase Trump’s criminal exposure.
According to McCarthy, House Republicans visiting their districts over the August recess said they were frequently asked about impeachment over concerns about charges pending against Hunter Biden for tax nonpayment (since repaid), a gun registration charge and the delayed appointment of a special counsel after a failed plea settlement. More likely, this is frustration over sought-for balancing of Trump’s legal problems by insisting that the justice system is “weaponized” and showing that the other guy is vulnerable too.
I doubt that is as true in tight political districts, as in New York State, but the report would be the logical harvest of what Republicans and Fox News commentators have been feeding that exact audience.
Just try to follow the argument here:
“I just want to be very clear that it’s not political. They’re not afraid to punch at our guys. They threw two impeachments at Trump,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. “I believe that’s political, and sometimes you got to punch back. But I want to be very clear on this: This isn’t a political response.”
The House Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees have been probing various aspects of the foreign business dealings of Biden’s family members during his vice presidency. There is open disagreement about what financial reports, showcased “whistleblower” accounts and even testimony by Devon Archer, a Hunter business partner, offered or what any of it has to do with high crimes seen as needed for an impeachment vote. Archer, for example, testified he was “not aware” of any wrongdoing by Biden, and any conversations with Hunter and business associates were limited to pleasantries. Republicans have not shown that President Biden directly financially benefited from any of his family’s business activities, but a recent Oversight GOP staff memo argued they do not have to show direct payments to demonstrate corruption.
House members said last month that McCarthy told a Republican conference meeting he was not yet taking the step of opening an impeachment inquiry as the committees continue their investigations, but he talked about how an official inquiry could help them in their probes.
The only thing that has changed has been distribution of a Donald Trump mugshot upon his arrest in his fourth indictment on crimes in four months,
Just for perspective, when the House resumes, it will have 12 wrking days before the end of the fiscal year when government operations face the possibility of shutdown.