It is all about him. It is always about him.
Former President Donald Trump is the “political sun” whose gravitational force pulls the political and media planets into his orbit. Hence, since the “political sun” appears to be “overheating,” be prepared for solar storms of epic proportions.
Next week, when the fire and fury-infused Republican-controlled House of Representatives is back in session, they will have a “family discussion” about unleashing impeachment as their ultimate weapon to distract and weaken President Biden. Potentially, they aim to create a political equation where Trump’s four indictments will equal Biden’s impeachment. But does Republican “revenge math” add up?
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who orbits Trump’s “sun” but lives in fear of incineration, would oversee an impeachment inquiry searching for evidence to prove that Biden committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
But McCarthy’s dysfunctional family has it out of order. Traditionally, first are events, circumstances or actions that produce overwhelming evidence of a presidential crime so egregious that it warrants an impeachment inquiry to determine whether the alleged illegal activity satisfies the somewhat loose constitutional guidelines.
But now, hyper-partisan sun-worship is inducing GOP House members to trump that logical order.
Fortunately for McCarthy, there is a Republican interpretation of impeachable offenses that could guide and justify his decision to forge ahead. In 1970, when former President Gerald Ford was House minority leader, he famously said, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
The Speaker won his current title after selling his soul to his “political Godfather” — the twice-impeached former president and leading 2024 GOP presidential nominee. Second, in a Truth Social rant on Aug. 27 about why Biden must be impeached, Trump directed his anger at McCarthy, but without naming him,
Trump wrote: “Biden is a Stone Cold Crook-You don’t need a long INQUIRY to prove it, it’s already proven. These lowlifes Impeached me TWICE (I WON!), and Indicted me FOUR TIMES – For NOTHING! Either IMPEACH the BUM, or fade into OBLIVION. THEY DID IT TO US!”
During a Sept. 1 interview on Breitbart, McCarthy discussed impeachment, stating, “To open an impeachment inquiry is a serious matter, and House Republicans would not take it lightly or use it for political purposes…that’s why, if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the people’s House and not through a declaration by one person.’”
Auditioning to be that “one person” is Trump’s stand-in, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). On a radio show this week, Gaetz said, “We’ve got to seize the initiative. That means forcing votes on impeachment. And if Speaker McCarthy stands in our way, he may not have the job long.”
Suppose McCarthy cobbles together a House majority that votes to commence an impeachment inquiry. Will Trump threaten “to primary” moderate GOP members who prefer to vote against? And since McCarthy also said “the American people deserve to be heard,” expect nearly half to cheer, “Let’s go Brandon.”
Meanwhile, expect the other half of America to be disgusted at a Trump-branded circus that creates television ad content, Truth Social clips, and fundraising emails for his presidential campaign. Then possibly, Biden’s approval ratings might increase, as did Bill Clinton’s and Trump’s during their respective impeachments.
Even so, for House members, the beauty of an impeachment inquiry is the expansion of their investigative and legal powers to issue subpoenas, take testimony, and obtain documents — the reasons GOP leaders say they need this inquiry.
Truthfully, the inquiry means “hunting season” for committee members to explore, exploit and solidify the “Biden crime family” bumper sticker theme for the 2024 campaign as a great equalizer to Trump’s felony charges. For the MAGA base, what’s not to like? Yes, Hunter Biden could be indicted on gun charges, but he is not on the 2024 ballot.
McCarthy runs a substantial political risk if an impeachment inquiry vote is defeated. But if the vote passes, imagine the dramatic split screen: on screen left, Biden’s impeachment inquiry could quickly morph into Articles of Impeachment that the House votes on to impeach the president. (Once McCarthy pulls the inquiry trigger, how can he come back and say, “Oops, sorry!” later on?) On screen right, Trump cheers the impeachment proceedings as he contends with his lawyers and judges while waging America’s first presidential campaign from inside and outside of courtrooms.
Aside from the House GOP’s payback for Trump’s impeachments and indictments, Biden’s impeachment political theatre would star Trump’s most loyal congressional sycophants with what could be the Republican version of the Jan. 6 House Select Committee. Recall that Trump blamed McCarthy for not having his members sit on that panel. Here’s a chance for McCarthy to settle the score while earning an “attaboy” from Trump.
If McCarthy marches forward to create an equation of “Trump indictments equals Biden impeachment,” expect an all-consuming quagmire that takes the Speaker’s eyes off funding the government by the end of September, along with every legislative matter on his crowded plate.
Worse for McCarthy, with members like Gaetz falling all over themselves to do Trump’s bidding, the Speaker is in a no-win situation. His inescapable orbit around Trump’s sun leaves him where he could burn quickly or cook slowly.
Myra Adams served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008.
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