The Impeachment of President Biden

Dr. Malcolm Cross

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, is beginning to discuss the possibility of impeaching President Biden.  To be sure, he is not (yet) calling for Biden’s impeachment, conviction, and removal from office.  But he is advocating an “impeachment inquiry” to determine if there are, in fact, grounds for Biden’s actual impeachment.  So why is this happening, and what are the most likely outcomes of the process McCarthy wants to start?

Nobody should be surprised at the rising talk of impeaching President Biden by the GOP-dominated House of Representatives.  The two impeachments of President Trump have whetted the appetite of Republican representatives for revenge.  Moreover, once the government does anything, its actions may establish a precedent making it easier to repeat the initial action.

In fact, Republicans began discussing the possibility of impeaching Biden in 2020, following the first impeachment of Trump and before Biden himself was even elected President.  For example, former GOP Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert said that Biden’s election would trigger a Gohmert-pushed investigation into the Biden family’s business affairs, to be followed by Biden’s impeachment should the facts so warrant.

Throughout Biden’s first term, Republican impeachment talk has only gotten stronger.  Biden’s chaotic withdrawal of American armed forces from Afghanistan added fuel to the fire.  And while Gohmert himself left the House of Representatives in 2022 to unsuccessfully seek the GOP nomination for Texas Attorney General, other GOP firebrands in the House—Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example—have stepped up GOP impeachment efforts.

McCarthy has tried to be careful in his phrasing of what he actually wants to do.  He says he wants not the actual impeachment and removal of Biden, at least not at this time.  But he does want an “impeachment inquiry” to determine if there are sufficient grounds for impeachment.  He claims the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to conduct a full and fair investigation of the Bidens.  Only Congress, and especially the House of Representatives, has the authority and resources to do so.

So what outcomes should be expected?

Prior to 2023, when the Democrats were in the majority in the House, neither an impeachment inquiry nor an actual impeachment would have been possible.  But by winning a majority of House seats in 2022, the Republicans have made both an inquiry and an actual impeachment more likely, especially since voting on these matters will probably be along party lines, thereby guaranteeing GOP victories.

But while only a simple majority vote in the House is necessary to impeach, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is necessary to convict and remove an impeached official.  Therefore, it is as certain as anything in politics can be that President Biden will be acquitted by the Democratic-dominated Senate and retained in office.

So why should the Republicans bother with impeachment at all?  No doubt many remain aggrieved at the impeachments of Trump and want payback.  Moreover, they hope that the process will produce enough unsavory information about the Bidens to repel the voters and make them vote for former Trump or whomever else the GOP nominates for President.  So even if Biden escapes conviction in the Senate he may meet defeat at the ballot box.

But the GOP’s impeachment efforts could backfire.  If the public thinks the House Republicans are being vindictive, they may not only re-elect Biden but also elect more Democrats to the House and Senate as well.  There is precedent.  President Clinton maintained his popularity with the public throughout his own impeachment.  On the other hand, the voting public, expressing its disapproval of Republican plans to impeach Clinton, actually reduced the number of Republicans in the House of Representatives in the 1998 midterms.

But while GOP efforts to remove President Biden in 2023 or 2024 will almost certainly fail, the House Republicans will almost certainly resume their efforts should President Biden win a second term.  Should the Democrats win back the House majority in 2024, President Biden will have a respite since a Democratic-dominated House will block whatever plans the GOP would otherwise try to implement.   But assuming the Republicans don’t botch the 2026 midterms (admittedly a big assumption, given its record of botching the 1998 and 2022 midterms) and win majorities at least in the House and probably in the Senate as well, impeachment will be back.  After all, the impeachments of President Trump have set precedents which will guide American politics for a long, long time, and the GOP’s desire for revenge, once thwarted, will only grow.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton from 1987 until 2023. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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