Last fall, as we were all girding ourselves for the impending “red tsunami” and contemplating what it was going to do to the remnants of the Biden agenda, I wrote that we should be prepared for the revenge of the MAGA cult and an inevitable Republican attempt to impeach Joe Biden. At that time, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia had already filed five impeachment resolutions, and it was well known that Donald Trump would not be happy if the incoming Republican majority didn’t deliver payback for the two impeachments on his record.
One of the resolutions Greene filed on Biden’s very first day in office claimed that he had tried “to influence the domestic policy of a foreign nation and accept benefits from foreign nationals in exchange for favors.” That was, of course, based upon the bogus Ukraine scandal that prompted Donald Trump’s first impeachment. Nothing would be more satisfying to Trump than to see Biden impeached for allegedly doing what Trump actually did when attempting to blackmail the Ukrainian president into smearing Biden.
Then-presumptive House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a staunch Trump acolyte, was asked by Punchbowl News before the midterm election if would pursue a Biden impeachment. He replied:
I think the country doesn’t like impeachment used for political purposes at all. If anyone ever rises to that occasion, you have to, but I think the country wants to heal and … start to see the system that actually works.
Clearly that whole “system that actually works” thing didn’t pan out, so now McCarthy is signaling that the GOP is ready to go ahead with an impeachment inquiry. Here’s what he told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday:
This was always going to happen. As Barton Gelman wrote in the Atlantic before the midterm election:
[T]here is little reason to think that McCarthy can resist the GOP’s impulse to impeach once it gathers strength. He is a notably weak leader of a conference that proved unmanageable for his predecessors Paul Ryan and John Boehner. If he does in fact reach the speakership, his elevation will be a testament to his strategy of avoiding conflict with those forces.
The chaotic and inane House “investigations” into Hunter Biden and their collective outrage about the alleged “sweetheart deal” the president’s son got for some minor offenses — paying his taxes late and lying on an application to buy a firearm — have been pointing in this direction for some time. There’s the notorious laptop, there’s an informant’s unverified claim that Joe Biden was in the room when Hunter made business deals, there’s another informant who is on the lam from the DOJ and there are a couple of IRS whistleblowers who say that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump appointee, was hamstrung by the Justice Department in going after Hunter. So far, that’s the extent of the “evidence,” if you want to call it that. (The Justice Department says the IRS claims are nonsense and says Weiss will testify before Congress when it’s back in session.)
The details of all these investigative threads are opaque but highly suggestive: It’s all unproven speculation, dubious sourcing and a lot of smoke and mirrors. But that’s the point. It’s Republican scandal-mongering 101: Throw volumes of incomprehensible minutiae into the media ether and deliver it with breathless intensity, and you can make the public believe that there must be something to it even if they have no idea what.
Donald Trump serves as the biggest possible megaphone for this stuff. He has dubbed Biden “Crooked Joe,” the most corrupt president in history, and has repeatedly slandered the “Biden crime family.” It may seem as if the ex-president has lost his touch, since he’s merely repurposing that nickname from “Crooked Hillary” and the GOP’s longstanding assault on the Clintons, but that’s no accident. Trump is drawing on all those years of character assassination against Bill and Hillary Clinton and wrapping Joe Biden in them like a cozy old sweater. Trump is also pushing McCarthy hard, not only to impeach Biden as soon as possible but also to “expunge” his own impeachments, which would mean, at least in his mind, that he can go into the 2024 election claiming that Biden was impeached and he wasn’t.
This strategy is starting to work. We can see this because that it’s not just the usual suspects who are flogging these scandals. Some high-profile GOP anti-Trump apostates are getting in on the action too. We saw former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, supposedly a 2024 candidate himself, on “Face the Nation” this past weekend talking the alleged “sweetheart deal” for Hunter Biden:
Far be it from me to second-guess a former U.S. attorney but I was under the impression that prosecutors didn’t reveal all the details about investigations in which they don’t charge someone because it’s not fair to smear people with innuendo and suspicions of wrongdoing when there isn’t adequate evidence. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to the sons of presidents. Christie has at least, to his credit, also raised the question of how Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner got a $2 billion sweetheart deal from the Saudi investment fund, which Republicans in Congress don’t want to know about.
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Then we have No Labels supporter and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a never-Trump Republican, making this startling comment:
That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone suggest that Joe Biden might face “serious legal troubles,” much less that they might be on par with Trump’s, which involve two current felony indictments and quite likely at least two more. Hogan retreated a bit when pressed on that by MSNBC’s Jen Psaki, who pointed out that Hunter Biden isn’t a government official and that there’s no conceivable equivalence between Trump and Biden when it comes to “legal problems.”
It’s fortunate for Biden that the credibility of most of his antagonists is so tattered that people who aren’t already in the right-wing echo chamber aren’t particularly likely to buy into this narrative. Oh, and speaking of serious legal problems:
According to CNN, Speaker McCarthy has been in close consultation with a former House speaker who is telling him it’s time to strike. That would be Newt Gingrich, who infamously drove the Republicans to impeach Bill Clinton, only to see Clinton’s approval rating hit an all-time high on the day of the impeachment vote. That cost Gingrich the speaker’s gavel and forced him to resign from Congress over it. It’s a mystery why anyone would want to take his advice on this issue — but then, we’re talking about Kevin McCarthy.
No wonder Joe Biden smiled when he was asked about this on Tuesday.
from Heather Digby Parton on what lies ahead