The Biden Impeachment Tantrum

The inmates are running the asylum.

NBC News (“Kevin McCarthy announces House will begin an impeachment inquiry into Biden“):

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday he is directing three House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden in an effort to seek bank records and other documents from the president and his son Hunter Biden.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference, McCarthy said an impeachment inquiry is a “logical next step” of the GOP-led investigations that have been going on for months.

“This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public,” which he said “is exactly what we want to know — the answers.”

“I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations, as well,” he said.

House Republicans, McCarthy said, “uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct.”

“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption,” he said. “They warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives.”

McCarthy said Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., will lead the inquiry in coordination with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo.

A vote to launch an impeachment inquiry would be a first step in the effort to remove Biden from office; it isn’t a vote on impeachment itself.

McCarthy’s decision is a major reversal after he told the conservative website Breitbart this month that he wouldn’t open an impeachment inquiry without a vote of the full House. He doesn’t appear to have enough votes to proceed on the issue, facing skepticism from across the GOP spectrum due to the lack of evidence implicating the president in Hunter Biden’s alleged transgressions.

It also marks a reversal for McCarthy from 2019, when he inveighed against Democrats for initiating an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump before a vote, questioning the legitimacy of such an investigation unless the House were to authorize it. House Democrats eventually voted to authorize it.

The Hill (“Senate GOP says House lacks evidence for impeachment“):

Senate Republicans say the House GOP doesn’t appear to have enough evidence to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Biden and are skeptical about the prospect of setting up an inquiry with multiple committees already investigating the president and his son, Hunter Biden.

Republican senators are highly skeptical that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) could even muster enough votes in the House to pass an article of impeachment and warn it would be quickly dismissed if it ever got to the Senate, possibly without going to a full trial.

Their message to House conservatives is simple: Don’t distract from the issues where Republicans will have the upper hand in the 2024 election — the economy and border security — to pursue a fruitless impeachment effort.

“It really comes to how do you prioritize your time? I don’t know of anybody who believes [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.] will take it up and actually have a trial and convict a sitting president,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate GOP leadership team.

Cornyn noted that House Republicans could investigate the Bidens without launching a formal impeachment inquiry because they control the lower chamber.

“Since they got the majority, they got the chairmen of the various committees, they could do all of that now without going to a formal inquiry,” he said. “Members of the House don’t really care what I think. All I can tell you, it’s unlikely to be successful in the Senate.

“Rather than doing something they know is unlikely to end the way they would like, maybe they want to emphasize other things.”

Cornyn is far from alone in his assessment.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) on Monday expressed reservation about linking a bill to avoid a government shutdown to a vote on launching impeachment proceedings.

“Well, obviously they can launch [a formal inquiry] there without tying it to government funding. Hopefully they can work all that out, how they want to handle those issues in the House,” he said.

Asked if there’s enough evidence to impeach Biden, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), another member of the Senate GOP leadership team, replied: “I do not.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), for his part, said attempting to impeach a sitting president “should generally be avoided for the interest of the country.”

“It can’t become routine,” he warned.

Rubio also criticized Democrats for pushing highly partisan articles of impeachment against then-President Trump in late 2019 and early 2020 and then for holding a second impeachment trial after Trump left office in 2021.

Rubio and other Republicans warned at the time that Democrats would lower the bar for impeaching a president.

Fast-forward more than two years, and they say it doesn’t mean House Republicans should get a green light to launch an impeachment inquiry against Biden without compelling evidence of a “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“There are countries like Peru that routinely now impeach whoever the president is, and it’s become almost a national sport,” Rubio said.

WaPo (“White House slams impeachment inquiry as ‘goose chase’“):

The White House denounced Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Biden on Tuesday, asserting that the president has done nothing wrong and calling the move an “evidence-free goose chase” that will spur Democrats to rally behind Biden.

The impeachment inquiry presents a new set of challenges for Biden as he runs for reelection in what could be a rematch with former president Donald Trump, who remains the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Congress will probably have broader authority now to dig into the president’s finances and could spend more resources investigating the president and his family. An active inquiry could also impede Biden’s efforts to stay out of the political fray, undermining his effort to keep a light campaign footprint and focus on appearing presidential for as long as possible.

Some Biden supporters also worry that a drawn-out inquiry could take a personal toll on the president, especially since it may center on his son Hunter.

“Nobody wants to go through it,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a Democratic strategist who worked in President Bill Clinton’s White House when he was impeached. “There can be political upsides, but no one wants to go through it. It is certainly going to wear on the president some, and it’s also personal — and that’s just rough.”

Still, Democrats were quick to note that the move carries significant political risks for Republicans as well. Palmieri noted that Clinton hit the highest approval ratings of his presidency when he was facing impeachment proceedings, and Democrats picked up seats in the 1998 midterm elections in a voter backlash against the GOP.

Democrats said the inquiry into Biden could similarly have political consequences for Republicans, particularly because the GOP has not unearthed credible allegations against the president.

“They have no evidence, so they’re launching the next phase of their evidence-free goose chase simply to throw red meat to the right wing so they can continue baselessly attacking the president to play extreme politics,” Ian Sams, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.

CNBC (“Biden impeachment inquiry gives White House a fight it’s ready for“):

The White House’s oversight and investigations war room finally got the battle on Tuesday that they’d been arming themselves for.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement that he has directed GOP-led House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden was the long-anticipated retribution that White House aides had been waiting for, after House Democrats twice impeached Donald Trump during his term in office.

Ever since Republicans retook the House majority last year, the White House has been building a team of legal experts and spokespeople to counter the congressional inquiry launched into the president and his son, Hunter Biden.

And in recent months, as the calls for impeachment grew louder on the far right of the GOP, the new White House war room has responded by publicly refuting Republican accusations and amplifying the voices of impeachment skeptics within the GOP caucus.


Absent a smoking gun, Republicans have latched on to testimony from Devon Archer, a former business partner of Hunter Biden’s, who told the House Oversight and Accountability Committee that over a 10-year period, Hunter put his father on speakerphone while talking to business associates “about 20 times,” and that Joe Biden attended two meals with Hunter and his business associates.

Archer also told the committee the elder Biden did not discuss business matters on any of the calls and meetings. Nonetheless, the younger Biden sought to portray an “illusion” of access to the then-vice president as part of his business “brand,” he said.

The lack of hard evidence hasn’t deterred the court of public opinion, however. A CNN poll released last week found a majority of Americans, 61%, believe the president was involved in his son’s business dealings while he was vice president, with 42% believing the involvement was illegal.

McCarthy has been under intense pressure from some far-right GOP members to press for impeachment even as others warn it’s too early. With a slim 222-212 majority in the House, the whims of every member of McCarthy’s caucus count.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said she would not vote on any necessary budget bills unless the House opened an impeachment inquiry. Congress has about 12 working days to pass all 12 appropriations bills and get Biden’s signature before the government shuts down on Sept. 30. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., threatened to oust McCarthy from his speakership if impeachment proceedings did not begin.

McCarthy is in a no-win situation here, holding an incredibly thin majority and a divided caucus. He can’t hold onto his post, much less get much of anything done, without the votes of the craziest members of the coalition. Still, if he had any integrity or courage, he’d tell them to pound sand on this one.

When even one as feckless and spineless as Rubio is telling you that this is bad for the institution, you really ought to listen. This amounts to a tantrum by the MAGA wing: You impeached our guy so now we’re impeaching yours. Except that their guy committed actual crimes while in office and this one, at least as far as nine months’ worth of digging has found, has not. That should matter.

Beyond basic decency and respect for the rule of law, this simply makes no sense politically. It’s bad for incumbent Republican Representatives in all but the most MAGA districts.

FILED UNDER: US Constitution, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DK says:

    Wow, who would’ve guessed that just over a year after their abortion extremism self-own, Trump Republicans would make another an in-kind donation to Democratic voter enthusiasm efforts — this time with impeachment-to-nowhere overreach — blocking out negative coverage of Biden’s jet lagged rambling, his “historically bad polls” (that include historically average approval for a modern incumbent president), and Gov. Grishman’s widely-panned gun carry bans?

    I mean, yes, literally everyone would have guessed. I asked for rhetorical effect only.

    The last decade of American politics is definitely giving the British Royal Family soap opera a run for its longheld Greatest Show on Earth title. Apologies for the Transatlantic bias.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    He can’t hold onto his post, much less get much of anything done, without

    … acting as Majority Leaders acted for well over two centuries and negotiated with members of the opposition when critical legislation needs to be passed.

    Accepting the myth that Republicans must exclude Democrats at all costs is how the crazies in his party got his nuts in a vice in the first place.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Fetterman’s pitch-perfect response.

  4. Charley in Cleveland says:

    Tit for tat impeachment…demanded by Donald Trump, pushed by nitwits named Gaetz and Taylor-Greene, indulged by the emptiest suit in Washington, and assigned to the driver of the GOP clown car, “Coatless Jim Jordan.” The grand scheme is to show that impeachment is a partisan tool that CAN be frivolously used, therefore all impeachments are frivolous, so the two impeachments of Trump must have been frivolous, too. This level of deviousness would be admirable if it wasn’t so akin to lighting a match to see what’s in the dynamite shed.

  5. DK says:

    at least as far as nine months’ worth of digging has found,

    Hunter Biden has been under investigation since 2018. Five years worth of digging? And still nothing on Joe Biden? This is entering Whitewater territory, with Hunter Biden playing a low rent Susan McDougal, and Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-QAnon) playing a more tasteless, more sleazy, somehow less-attractive Ken Starr.

    The fat lady is singing to Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans. She is singing ABBA’s “Waterloo.”

    To paraphrase John Fetterman: Boy, bye!

  6. MarkedMan says:

    When is some enterprising reporter going to start investigating how many Congress critters, cabinet secretaries, etc have lobbyist or “industry consultant” relatives? And how many made live in houses they can’t afford on a Senator’s salary? Isn’t there something about glass house and stones?

  7. charontwo says:

    So Bill Clinton shrugged off impeachment and did well in the next election.

    Therfore: hypothesis – unjustified impeachment benefits the target.

    Correlation is not causation, I am not convinced this will hurt the GOP

  8. Kathy says:

    Truth in headlines would mean: Kevin launches fishing expedition in barren waters.

  9. Joe says:

    Therfore: hypothesis – unjustified impeachment benefits the target.

    I have an entire party, charontwo, that would make the same claim about Trump, and you can throw in indictments as well.

  10. charontwo says:


    But the Reality Based Community does not view the TFG impeachments as unjustified.

    As for indictments, apples and oranges.

  11. Modulo Myself says:

    The Republican argument seems to be that Joe Biden should have told his son to knock it off. Because he did not, he’s therefore involved. Given that Hunter Biden was also doing a ton of drugs and sleeping with escorts and his dead brother’s wife, it seems obvious that this was not a guy who was listening to his dad’s advice. It’s an inane argument.

    The only actual abuse of power which took place is the fact that Hunter Biden had enough resources not to end up OD’ing in an alley somewhere. Hunter Biden used every bit of privilege he had to get out of his spiral, and good for him. But most people do not have resources that extensive. Republicans are so brain-dead they can’t even formulate this thought.

  12. al Ameda says:

    and in Wisconsin … State Republicans are getting ready to impeach a recently elected
    (by an 11% margin) liberal State Supreme Court Justice (who has yet to render an opinion)
    just because … they can.

    All across Republican America this putsch is happening, it is all out in the open
    right in front of us.

  13. gVOR10 says:

    Billy Beer with 21st century Republicans. Talking heads last night were noting that McCarthy is starting this without a vote because he doesn’t have the votes. Pelosi started an impeachment inquiry into Trumpsky without a vote. The GOPs then got an Office of Legal Counsel ruling that their subpoenas weren’t valid without a vote, so Pelosi got a vote, making the subpoenas valid, no matter what Navarro says. (It was OLC that gave us the rule DOJ couldn’t indict a sitting prez because it would eat into his vital TV and golf schedule.) So I’m torn between wanting Biden officials to tell McCarthy to pound salt or wanting them to show up and do an imitation of Hillary sitting with her chin on her hand looking bored and disgusted.

    The same talking heads make this out as a strategy to help Trump. Looks to me more like a handful of drama queens playing to the folks back home for primary insurance. Gaetz can’t live without his name in the papers.

    McCarthy supposedly did this to get a must pass spending bill. But apparently he doesn’t have a deal, maybe a vague understanding. Maybe just a desperate hope.

  14. gVOR10 says:

    @al Ameda:

    All across Republican America this putsch is happening, it is all out in the open
    right in front of us.

    Jane Mayer’s Dark Money should be required reading. In 1980 David Koch ran for veep on the Libertarian ticket. He ran because as a candidate he and his family could donate unlimited money. They were so politically naive they thought a Koch funded Libertarian ticket could win. They did good. For Libertarians. They got 1% of the vote. They realized a freedom for billionaires platform couldn’t appeal to a majority, so they set out, with their fellow traveler billionaires, to create the minority rule we now see.

    WI is so screwed up because they funded the 2010 REDMAP project to get Republican state lege majorities so they could aggressively gerrymander after the census. SCOTUS is screwed up because they spent an estimated 500 million to screw up the courts. I’m not sure if that estimate includes astroturfing the Federalist Society into existence and inventing “Originalism”. Leonard Leo got rich off all this and amongst other things arranged handlers for the justices like Harlan Crow, Paul Singer, and gawd knows who else. Part of the plan is to use the courts to eliminate any barriers to money in politics, as in Citizens United etc.

    Sounds conspiracy theory, doesn’t it? Except, as you say, it is all out in the open
    right in front of us. You could see it better if the MSM weren’t so reluctant to talk about money. Part of the reluctance, I think, is that so much of it is dark money. It’s hard to track where it came from and where it goes.

  15. Kathy says:


    Can the Democrats get the same ruling and force a vote?

    Preferably after a government shutdown is averted, as that is all the leverage the minority wing of the wingnut party has.

    On the other hand, government shutdowns have worked so well for the GQP, you know they’ll just try their damnedest to get another one.

  16. Daryl says:

    Look, after 8 months we haven’t found a shred of evidence of wrong-doing, so the only logical next step is to advance the investigation.

    IANAL but from what I’ve read the Trump DOJ ruled that an inquiry needs to be based on a vote of the House, or it has no power. That ruling is still in effect. So, apparently, this inquiry about nothing is toothless.

  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, it has been mentioned up front that one way this can work politically is to make the Trump impeachments look more political in retrospect.

    It seems to me that the strategy that Biden and other Dems could use to neutralize this is that, instead of stonewalling, they could yawn at the whole thing. Show up for everything and yawn, and maybe laugh a bit, just like Fetterman did. “You got nothing!”

    Basically, that’s what’s happening right now with Hunter’s prosecution. Hunters lawyer is daring David Weiss to bring charges, since he has an arsenal of evidence to show that the investigation was selective prosecution motivated by politics. Weiss himself has said that they normally wouldn’t charge someone for tax evasion if they had paid the back taxes plus interest and penalties.

    So really, “Go ahead, make my day.” is a very good stance.

  18. anjin-san says:

    @ James

    the MAGA wing

    So how many wings do you think the GOP has? Because it certainly appears to be MAGA members, and pretty much irreverent members, and not much more. I’m not sure that your appraisals of today’s Republican Party are realistic.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    We all knew this day was coming. They told us it would. And we told them, “Go ahead, look really insanely stupid on a national stage.” So they have and they do. Unfortunately, in MAGA world, looking really insanely stupid on a national stage gets votes.

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    @anjin-san: Most of the numbers I see suggest that the non-MAGA wing of the Republican party amounts to maybe 20-30% of the party. That’s 20-30% of R House caucus, for instance.

    Without them, the Republicans don’t hold a majority. That makes these guys really important, and it’s good to try to drive a wedge between them. Of course, the MAGA Members themselves appear to be doing a fine job of it.

  21. JKB says:

    Release the 1000 yr old aliens from Mexico.

    Guess they didn’t have time for another Trump indictment to take the news cycle from the impeachment inquiry news.

  22. Ken_L says:

    First impeachment in history that will lack either crimes or evidence. It will be a John Solomon-style exercise: “Here’s a random factoid, and here’s a random factoid, and here’s another random factoid, and if you can’t join the freakin’ dots you’re dumb beyond belief!”

  23. Bokonon says:

    Donald Trump has been actively promoting an impeachment drive when meeting with Freedom Caucus members … which is something the media really ought to be covering. This is a revenge hit on Biden.

    Another nice thing for the media to report? The whole point of this “impeachment” is that the GOP has no actual evidence of any wrongdoing by Biden right now – despite their best efforts – but they are hoping to use the impeachment process to find some as they go along.

    What I am seeing instead is a bunch of horse-race reporting and polls, and discussions about how the optics are bad for Biden. I am so sick of this.