Can Republicans Play Hardball On Impeaching Biden?

Can Republicans Play Hardball On Impeaching Biden?

Say what you will, but Democrats are not afraid to fight. Yet after four years of scorched-earth, Republicans apparently still don’t get it. Why would anyone vote for that?
Bob Anderson
By

“The president is not going to be removed from office,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell when asked about the growing calls for the impeachment of President Joe Biden as a result of his failures with the Afghanistan withdrawal. Noting that Democrats control both the House and Senate, he bluntly told a Kentucky group it’s “not going to happen,” and added, “I think the way these behaviors get adjusted in this country is at the ballot box.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chimed in on the question already brewing before the Afghanistan debacle, saying it “is so serious it should only be taken” in extreme cases. “If Biden takes an illegal action, we would move impeachment. But we’re not going to move … for political purposes.”

Those views embody the prevalent position of Congress over a two-centuries-long period in which only two presidents were impeached. The common understanding across political parties was that the constitutional requirement of “high crimes and misdemeanors” meant just that: “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

That all gave way to a new threshold during the Donald Trump presidency, though, one that could accurately be called the “Nike Rule”: “Just do it.”

No Limits: ‘Treason,’ Anyone?

From the beginning, Democrats’ lack of restraint and reason was on full display. In an opinion article entitled “Impeach Trump,” a cryptic one-line argument was presented: “It’s not too early to start.” It was published in The New York Daily News on March 2, 2016—almost a year before Trump was sworn in as president.

Just six months after his inauguration, the first article of impeachment was formally filed in the House of Representatives. Three months later, a second charge came. Shortly thereafter, a batch of five new articles were filed. And so it went—for four years.

Along the way, the press was aflush with articles such as these:

Those were published articles. It got much worse on social media.

Say what you will, but Democrats are not afraid to fight. They battle day in and day out, and they don’t break ranks. If anything, they compete to one-up each other in their zealous pursuit of enemies.

Despising Trump’s very existence, they skipped past censure and went straight for the jugular—impeachment. Not only were they not content to allow an election to handle matters, they actually tried him after he had left office.

In the end, the mob was barely sated with a charge of “incitement of insurrection.” Some argued for treason—a crime punishable by death—but to their dismay found it was legally limited to the enabling of a foreign enemy, not a domestic one, as was alleged to have arisen on January 6, 2021. So there was no gallows.

Clearly, there is no limit on the bombastic rhetoric from Democrats, nor are they embarrassed by any of it. Yet Republican leaders still prefer to play the game by different rules that disadvantage their voters. Even after watching the 45th president be pummeled for years by false allegations, corrupt investigations, and endless calls for impeachment—capped by the actual deed pulled off, not once but twice, in his last 14 months in office—they still seem oblivious to the change in war tactics.

They fight like noblemen of old, standing at attention in line in an open field, ready to trade musket balls with the enemy—as they’re picked off from behind trees, one by one. Perhaps they never heard Gen. George Patton’s admonition that “no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.”

The Constitutional Case Against Biden

Although the Afghanistan matter is drawing the most attention at this time, other known abuses of power should not be overlooked. Congress has a duty to act when high crimes are committed, and there’s strategic value in pursuing multiple issues, as Democrats have shown.

The truth is that Republicans do not have to sacrifice ethics or the Constitution in seeking an impeachment of Joe Biden. There is ample evidence of Constitutional abuses, derelictions of duty, and possible crimes, including the following:

  • President Biden abused his powers by directing the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to target political opponents under the guise of protecting the United States from “domestic violent extremism.”
  • President Biden abandoned his oath of office and his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed by refusing to enforce statutes that govern immigration.
  • President Biden directed private companies to restrict the speech of Americans, thereby corruptly using a proxy to violate their First Amendment rights.
  • President Biden unconstitutionally enacted a ban on evictions without the approval of Congress and in defiance of the Supreme Court.
  • Biden abused his powers as an official of the U.S. government to induce foreign investments and payments to his family and himself.

Also, of course, there is Afghanistan, for which a persuasive case can be made for impeachment based on dereliction of duty—or worse. Impeachment of Biden can coexist and possibly further punishing the military and administrative brass whose heads should roll over the disaster as well.

Consider that every move Trump made over four years was critiqued through a lens that portrayed him as a “Putin puppet.” But what about the “the Big Guy?”

Are his equity holdings abroad affecting his decision-making? Why would a president allow China, Russia, and others the chance to rip apart our Blackhawk helicopters and other weapons, revealing classified technology? Is that action itself criminal? As our sailors on nuclear submarines can attest, even the release of pictures of classified equipment is a felony offense. Democrats would not ignore or merely comment on any of this if a Republican were president. As Joe might say, “It’s a big f—ing deal.”

There’s also the video of Biden regaling an audience with the story of his quid-pro-quo with the Ukrainians. Fire the prosecutor “or you’re not getting the billion dollars,” he said. It perfectly mirrors the unsubstantiated charge lobbed at Trump in his first impeachment. As Democrats have made clear, impeachment powers are also not limited to the president’s time in office, and this was a textbook definition of “abuse of power.”

Who with “corrupt motives” recently withheld another $100 million that Congress had appropriated to help “Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression?” That would be Biden—holding up the funds as a reward to the Russians for moving some troops to boost his political capital before the G-7 summit.

In addition, Democrats charged that President Trump had obstructed justice by directing agencies and offices to “defy lawful subpoenas” issued to obtain documents for their investigation. Has Biden unconstitutionally directed officials in Arizona, via the Department of Justice, to defy a lawful subpoena in the production of documents—and routers—related to an investigation of his election?

Democrats would have a field day with any of these. Republicans? They’re too busy coming up with all the reasons they can’t do anything while demanding that voters hand them back control of Congress—but for what? More excuses?

Why Impeach?

Republican leaders are clearly nervous at the mere mention of “impeachment.” Besides their natural inclination to avoid dust-ups that might wrinkle their pressed suits, there is also the pragmatic concern: “Why do this, only to end up with a Kamala Harris presidency?”

The answer lies in another question: Did Democrats ever slow down their impeachment efforts over the “ultra-conservative” VP who would take Trump’s place? No, because their efforts were more focused on Sun Tzu than Mike Pence. They knew that chaos creates opportunity, and “opportunities multiply as they are seized.” Impeachment was just a tool to drive the chaos. Pence would never be president.

If a Harris presidency were to occur, is there any reason to believe the policies would differ substantially from those of the Biden administration, whoever that actually is? And would any president unimpaired by cognitive issues be better able to avoid foreign policy meltdowns?

The Process Is the Point

Democrats figured out the secret to winning a political war: being political. Wield every weapon possible—allegations, investigations, and cries for impeachment. It all discombobulates the opponent, weakens the support of allies, and slows forward movement.

Although presidents historically benefit from a post-election mandate, pushing through key legislation while the iron is hot, Trump’s first 100 days were a “honeymoon from hell.” A full repeal of Obamacare never happened, and other legislative priorities were stalled.

The president commented in October 2017 that the Democrats “are very good at, really, obstruction.” They were just getting started. The next month, that batch of five new articles of impeachment were filed against him, built around a theme that he was a danger to the country. Democrats were already waging an effective political war—without control of the House or the Senate.

Can Republicans play this kind of hardball? Do they understand the value in it?

‘The Supreme Art of War’

McConnell must know there is no shortage of potential impeachment charges. It’s time to learn to battle. Democrats were never shy to act on the slightest rumor from a partisan whistleblower, or the worst interpretation of a perfectly legitimate phone call, or to twist the unruly actions of a few people into a full-blown “insurrection.”

Nor did they wait on majority status to launch their fusillade of impeachment attacks. In the end, they sought to tar and feather the president, even as he packed his bags to leave the White House. And they did, trumpeting, “the president is impeached for life!”

Sun Tzu advised that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” So far, Democrats have done just that to their noble adversaries across the aisle.

Can GOP leaders awaken and summon the will to fight, to give their voters something to vote for in 2022 and 2024? Can they hold Biden accountable? Several members are stirring, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy may be getting the message from voters, so perhaps momentum is building. Take it from Democrats, congressman, it’s not too early to start.

Bob Anderson is a partner and CFO of a hotel development company and a former aerospace engineer who worked on the International Space Station and interned in Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) at the Pentagon. He is also a licensed commercial pilot.
Photo White House / Flickr

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