Why impeachment will backfire spectacularly on the GOP
Everything led by Trump is a disaster for Republicans. And the impeachment move against Joe Biden is yet another.
Yesterday, the House voted to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden, with all Republicans voting for it and all Democrats voting against it. Just a few weeks ago, the GOP leadership didn’t have the votes, particularly among the vulnerable Republicans in districts President Biden won in 2020.
Many of those Republicans are even more vulnerable today. In particular, New York’s highest court this week ordered new congressional maps, thrusting New York Republicans in Biden-won districts into turmoil and near certain defeat—and yet they voted for the inquiry.
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The reason is crystal clear: Donald Trump, who wants retribution, and the mega-MAGA in the party made it known that if any Republican voted against the impeachment inquiry, that person would face a primary from a MAGA-backed Republican and lose. Many clearly decided they’d take their chances, dismal as they are, in a general election rather than be taken down for sure in the primary.
House Speaker Mike Johnson had been more equivocal in his first days as speaker regarding the impeachment inquiry, publicly stating the GOP was following the facts and the process would play out. In a closed-door meeting at the time, per the Washington Post, he "indicated that there is insufficient evidence at the moment to initiate formal impeachment proceedings.”
But then, like Kevin McCarthy, Mike Johnson made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, which was surely ordered by Trump. That was just as Johnson was facing an onslaught of attacks from the MAGA extremists in the House after he’d moved to make a deal with the Democrats to keep the government open.
And over the next few days, Johnson not-surprisingly flip-flopped and announced an impeachment inquiry vote would come, putting Oversight Committee chair James Comer, Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and all the other MAGA extremists in the driver’s seat, all of them following Trump’s orders.
Any way you look at it, there is no plan. It makes no sense if they want to keep the House and expand their power.
Johnson’s initial instincts were right, because it would be nothing but a disaster for the GOP. I’ve spoken on my SiriusXM program with journalists covering Capitol Hill as well as with Democratic lawmakers. I’ve asked all of them what the plan would be for the GOP moving forward. And they’re all stumped, because it’s all just groping in the dark, walking further and further out on a limb.
And that’s what Trump makes people do. As has been discussed ad nauseam, there is no evidence to open an impeachment inquiry, no evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. That is something even many in the GOP—particularly the vulnerable ones in Biden-won districts—admit. Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon said it outright—but gave some bogus excuse about White House non-cooperation for changing his mind and voting for an inquiry. Per the Messenger:
A number of House Republicans are openly admitting that there is no evidence to impeach President Joe Biden, even as they prepare to vote to officially authorize the probe later this week.
"Probably not," Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told reporters on Tuesday morning when asked if Biden committed high crimes or misdemeanors. "They're getting millions of dollars off the Biden name. That's not to say there was a crime by the president."
Now that they’ve voted for the inquiry, what next? They’ve already shown no evidence, and they’re not going to find anything now, as they’ve been able to get all the documentation they need—and none of it shows anything, unless you use their cherry-picked information and distorted claims( which are easily disputed) that are then spun into a fantasy world of high crimes.
Do they then move on to actual impeachment articles after finding nothing else, pushing out their warped fiction? Or do they admit they’ve found nothing? The latter will be the truth, but admitting that will be a disaster for them with their base—which is now salivating—and certainly with Trump.
Already, the polls are shaky for them regarding impeachment, with the majority of voters saying they believe Biden didn’t commit crimes in both an AP poll and even a Fox poll. And that’s with most voters not paying attention—yet. As the Washington Post notes, “Perhaps most inauspiciously for Republicans, those who say they’ve actually consumed news about the inquiry were significantly more opposed to [impeachment]." Business Insider, looking at more polls, writes, “Americans are over impeachment, as independents flee.”
If they move forward with actual impeachment articles based on what they’ve got, it will be, as Mike Huckabee said, “a political disaster.” But there’s no reason to believe that if Trump and MAGA House members used threats to get the Don Bacons and the New York Republicans to vote for an inquiry, they wouldn’t use the same threats to get them to vote for a bogus impeachment that infuriates the public. And again, if they conversely don’t impeach, it’s going to cause outrage in the base and political meltdowns among MAGA in the House, the likes of which we haven’t seen.
So how does it make sense, even in their bizarre universe?
Zachary Petrizzo, who covers Trumpworld for the Daily Beast, told me yesterday that most of the MAGA extremists in the House really don’t care about keeping control of the House. It’s all about scoring points for themselves—promoting themselves for the future, using their platform to perform—and doing whatever Trump tells them to do because he is more important to their future aspirations than keeping control of the House.
I also asked Democratic Congressman Mark Takano of California what his GOP colleagues’ plan is—if there is a plan.
“My imagination—where do I imagine it goes? Who knows?” he responded. “Who would have thought they would undo their own speaker and take 21 days to replace that speaker? And now we’ve come to a standstill. Anything can happen because they’re extreme and they’re not reasonable. There are others who are so committed to Donald Trump or so afraid of him. And they do his bidding.”
So it appears they truly are making it up as they go, fueled by a mix of anger and self-promotion—with no real plan to “win” or keep the House—and constantly bowing to Trump out of fear, adoration, or both.
That means, just like in 2018, and just like in 2020 and 2022, following Trump will lead to a lot of pain for the GOP. I can’t say, however, that the impeachment proceeding is a great thing for the president, for Democrats, or for the country, even if it severely hobbles Republicans. It’s yet another assault on our democracy, trivializing an important tool to keep presidents in check and making it about score-settling. It’s another example of the impact Trump has had on damaging our democratic institutions.
But it will not help the GOP or Trump. And the sooner we get the GOP out of power—and keep Trump from gaining it—the sooner we can restore protections for democracy in the United States.