December 11, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Biden impeachment story is a Trump revenge story
It’s getting clearer and clearer.
Last week, I said that the insurgent Republicans in the US House of Representatives are probably going to impeach the president, not because Joe Biden has done anything wrong, but because Donald Trump wants them to.
The impeachment story is a revenge story.
John Bennett’s analysis is helpful in seeing this. The Roll Call columnist noted today that while the current House speaker, Mike Johnson, is about to set up a formal vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, didn’t. What changed? Bennett asked.
The “evidence” hasn’t changed. Republican investigators have been searching for a criminal link between Joe Biden to his profligate son without success. The best they have come up with is three payments Hunter Biden made to his dad to pay him back for cosigning on a truck loan. Other than that, they have innuendo and conspiracy theory.
I think the last step for members of the Washington press corps is spelling things out in plain English – that these insurgent Republicans are probably going to impeach the president because Donald Trump wants them to.
So what changed?
They have the votes!
Bennett: “Johnson has signaled through words and actions that he and other House GOP leaders were confident they would have ample Republican votes on the floor to formally authorize the inquiry.”
Or do they?
Bennett reported that Johnson isn’t the best vote-counter. Though he’s publicly “suggested he has enough moderates on board,” Bennett wrote, “his vote-counting operation has been lacking before.”
“For instance,” Bennett said, “he has had to pull spending bills from the floor multiple times; and he could not even push through the rules for some of those. He backed saving Santos just hours before 105 of the 217 Republicans voting joined all but two Democrats in voting to expel him.”
So you could say the vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry is a test of the new speaker’s credibility. GOP “moderates” in districts won by Joe Biden have avoided the entire subject of impeachment. If they vote against formalizing the inquiry, will that hurt Johnson’s standing?
I doubt it. Credibility has nothing to do with it. Johnson said as much, though you have to read between the lines. There’s no evidence of wrongdoing on Biden’s part. His son, maybe. (Indeed, he was indicted again last week on tax charges.) But nothing on Dad. Even so, Johnson said that the impeachment of the president is a foregone conclusion.
“The House has no choice,” Johnson said, because “this is not a political decision. This is a legal decision.” But if that were the case, there’d be something to base that legal decision on. There isn’t. It took a Republican strategist to spell out the truth in plain English.
Donald Trump’s “poll numbers show he’s stronger in the [2024 GOP] primary than he was nine months or six months — or even three months — ago,” the strategist told Bennett. “Trump wants, going into 2024, Joe Biden to be tarred by impeachment like he was twice.”
The impeachment story is a revenge story.
The strategist said Hunter Biden’s legal problems, which are many, are another reason for Johnson’s move to formalize the inquiry. But that’s not a reason to vote for it. As I said, there’s no Dad-related evidence of anything. His son’s legal problems do provide political cover, though.
That’s what this is. There’s no there there. It’s all makebelieve. There’s enough makebelieve, and there’s enough people who believe the makebelieve, that the insurgent Republicans are going to vote for an impeachment inquiry and, in time, the impeachment of the president.
As an astute Twitter follower told me: “There’s a very real possibility that Republicans will hold a show trial for Biden in September and October while Trump manages to delay trials for 91 felony charges. It will be an extreme perversion of justice should this farce occur.”
Like I said, it’s fate.
Trump isn’t campaigning for president so much as leading a movement of vengeance against his and his followers’ enemies. That includes Biden and everyone in his party. The day the House Democrats impeached Trump for the first time – for extorting the leader of a foreign ally in a criminal conspiracy to smear then-candidate Joe Biden – was the day President Biden’s impeachment was set in motion.
This is why “the House has no choice.”
Insurgent Republicans have to finish what Trump started.
That’s not to say it will work. So far, the Washington press corps has done a pretty good job of saying that there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden and that impeachment activities are rooted in his son’s alleged crimes, for which he’s being held accountable. (The people indicting him on federal changes work for the Biden administration!)
I think the last step for members of the Washington press corps is spelling out the truth in plain English – that these insurgent Republicans are probably going to impeach the president because Trump wants them to. The impeachment story is a revenge story.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.