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Friday, June 23, 2023

Opinion | The U.S. House of Recriminations begins Biden’s impeachment - The Washington Post

Opinion The U.S. House of Recriminations begins Biden’s impeachment

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP) 

"A couple of weeks before the midterm elections, Kevin McCarthy assured votersthat House Republicans, if given the majority, wouldn’t be so rash as to go on an impeachment binge.

“I think the country doesn’t like impeachment used for political purposes at all,” he told Punchbowl News at the time. “I think the country wants to heal,” he added, and avowed that he didn’t think anybody in the Biden administration merited impeachment proceedings.

The voters gave Republicans a chance, awarded them narrow control of the House.

And now Republicans are starting their impeachment binge.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) rose in the House Tuesday evening after the last vote. “For what purpose does the gentlewoman from Colorado seek recognition?” asked the presiding officer, Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.).

The gentlewoman sought recognition to unveil a parliamentary maneuver that would force a vote within 48 hours on H. Res. 503, “Impeaching Joseph R. Biden Jr., president of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.”

No impeachment proceedings. No investigation. No evidence. No crimes. Not so much as parking ticket. Just a willy-nilly, snap vote to impeach the president, because Boebert dislikes Biden’s immigration policies. In her mind, “President Biden has intentionally facilitated a complete and total invasion at the southern border,” she charged on the House floor.

At this, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) flew into a fit of jealousy because Boebert had thought to use the maneuver (called a “privileged resolution”) to force an impeachment vote before Greene got a vote on her articles of impeachment against Biden. Boebert stole her impeachment articles, Greene whined to reporters, calling Boebert that name that every kindergartner fears: “Copycat.”

Congresswoman Jewish Space Lasers then confronted Boebert on the House floor and called her a “little b----” who “copied my articles of impeachment,” according to a Daily Beast account that Greene confirmed.

But Boebert was unmoved — because she’s on a mission from God. She filed her impeachment resolution because “I am directed and led by Him … by the spirit of God,” she told the evangelical Victory Channel.

God could not be reached for comment.

McCarthy, in a closed-door meeting with Republicans Wednesday morning, pleaded with them to oppose Boebert’s flash-mob impeachment. “What majority do we want to be?” he admonished them, warning that Republicans might “give it right back in two years” if impeachment mania prevails. He eventually persuaded Boebert to accept a watered-down resolution delaying an impeachment vote by first sending it through the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees.

On the floor, Boebert exulted. “For the first time in 24 years, a House Republican-led majority is moving forward with impeachment proceedings against a current president,” she said. “This bill allows impeachment proceedings to proceed.”

Her GOP colleagues made clear on the floor that they saw this vote to be teeing up eventual impeachment for this “corrupt” head of the “Biden crime family syndicate” who is responsible for the “murders of countless Americans.” Vowed Rep. Chip Roy (Tex.), the Republican floor leader for the impeachment debate, “We are just beginning.”

Enduring derision from the Democratic side — “nutty,” “pathetic,” “losers” — House Republicans voted, unanimously, for what will, in effect, be the beginning of impeachment proceedings against Biden.

Boebert’s stunt, along with a general Republican thirst for vengeance after an independent prosecutor secured a 37-count indictment against Donald Trump, has opened the impeachment floodgates. Greene and others can now be expected to play with their new toy, using the privileged-resolution maneuver to force impeachment votes against whatever Biden administration official looks at them crossways on any given day. Greene alone has introduced impeachment articlesagainst Biden, the attorney general, the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the U.S. attorney in Washington. On Thursday, Greene and GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) introduced resolutions to “expunge” Trump’s two impeachments.

The U.S. House of Recriminations is now in session.

As usual, McCarthy has only himself to blame for the chaos. The whole thing started last week when freshman Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) introduced a “privileged resolution” to censure Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) as payback for his work on Trump’s first impeachment. A responsible leader would have quashed such petty vindictiveness, but McCarthy’s leadership team threw its support behind the censure resolution and helped rewrite it so that it would pass — which it did, Wednesday evening (although a couple of bright lights thought they had voted to “censor” Schiff).

The result is bedlam in the House. Right-wing saboteurs had already shut the entire House down for a week in a symbolic protest. Moderate Republicans (there are a few) then retaliated by defeating the saboteurs’ legislation. And now every member has license to hijack the House to pursue vendettas with privileged resolutions.

McCarthy had tried to stall his caucus’s drive for impeachment by setting House committee chairmen loose to launch a series of overlapping probes into whatever catches their fancy. At least three committees are investigating Hunter Biden. At least three committees are auditioning impeachment articles against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. At least three committees are probing imagined “censorship” of social media by the administration. Multiple committees are pursuing fanciful conspiracy theories involving public health officials and the supposed “weaponization” of the FBI, the Justice Department and the rest of the government by the “deep state.” And, of course, the committees investigate anybody — Jack Smith, Alvin Bragg — who investigates Trump.

Exit polls in the midterms showed voters cared most about inflation and abortion, followed by guns, crime and immigration. Yet the House majority just passed a bill to expand access to a common mass-shooting weapon and is now moving tax cuts that would aggravate inflation.

There’s talk that House Republicans next month will take up bills further restricting abortion access — that is, if they can find time between impeachment votes.

Last week, 20 House Republicans joined with Democrats to kill a resolution censuring Schiff. This week, not a single House Republican voted against censuring Schiff.

Well, there was a tweak to the language, removing a financial penalty. But there was a more important factor as well: House Republicans had received orders from on high.

In between the first and second vote, Trump issued a threat saying that any Republican voting against censuring the “lowlife” Schiff “should immediately be primaried.”

“The supreme puppet master,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said during the censure debate, “threatened the other side of the aisle with primaries if they didn’t bend the knee.”

The resolution itself was a clumsily worded exoneration of Trump in all matters: Schiff “spread false accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” Schiff “behaved dishonestly and dishonorably” in launching “the first impeachment of President Trump.” Schiff gave a “false retelling of a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.”

Since the 19th century, censures (this was only the eighth since 1890) had been about financial or sexual improprieties or other personal misconduct — not policy disputes. “We don’t censure members over a difference of opinion,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), leading the Democrats’ defense of Schiff. Until now, that is, and this “embarrassing revenge tour,” as Raskin put it. “We are seeing the complete ethical collapse of a once-great political party,” he continued, into “an authoritarian cult of personality taking orders from an inciter of insurrection.”

The first-term Luna, 34 years old, knew so little of the functioning of the House that she had to be reminded repeatedly while leading her side in the debate about the difference between “reserving” her time and “yielding” it. Her speeches sounded like social-media rants: Schiff’s “own political good was served by permanently destroying family relationships.”

So now he’s a home wrecker?

Luna’s obsession with Schiff is perverse — of the eight pieces of legislation she has introduced in her brief career, five of them involve Schiff — and Republicans of any stature had enough sense not to lend their voices to the sordid affair. While Democrats lined up to defend Schiff, Luna couldn’t find enough speakers to fill her 30 minutes of the debate — or, as she called it, “these little fun games and comments back and forth.” She pulled together an assortment of the usual extremists, most of whom weren’t even in Congress when Schiff allegedly did the terrible things they accused him of doing.

Among them was Boebert, who called Schiff a “disgrace to our nation” and a “crook” before lapsing into gibberish: “I told the American people that he had to prove — he, that he had proof, that Trump, the Trump campaign, asking, uh, the Russians for help in a conspiracy.”

Democrats took whatever time Raskin could spare — even 30 seconds — to fire off their best lines.

“This is what’s known as Luna-cy,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) offered.

“This is a partners’ meeting of Insurrection LLC,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) proposed.

After Luna spoke of the “opportunity to hold this man accountable,” Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) replied: “You are the party of George Santos. Who are you holding accountable?” (Some Democrats are now contemplating a retaliatory privileged resolution censuring Santos.)

Schiff, whose Senate campaign has reaped a financial bonanza from the censure shenanigans, did the honest thing: He thanked his persecutors. “You honor me with your enmity,” he said.

“No matter how many false justifications or slanders you level against me, you but indict yourselves,” Schiff said. “As Liz Cheney said, ‘There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.’ Will it be said of you that you lacked the courage to stand up to the most immoral, unlawful and unethical president in history but consoled yourselves by attacking those who did?”

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), the speaker pro tempore, called for a voice vote on the resolution. A chorus of Democratic “Noes” drowned out the Republicans “Ayes.”

“In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it,” Crawford lied.

McGovern called out to Crawford: “I think you need a hearing aid.”

That might help. But what these guys really need is a conscience.

McCarthy took over the speaker’s chair and called Schiff to the well to receive the Trump-ordered rebuke. Democrats crowded around Schiff, applauding and chanting “Adam!” At McCarthy, they chanted “shame!” and “disgrace!” then heckled him as he tried to read the admonishment.

“I have all night,” said McCarthy, though he quickly abandoned his attempt to gavel down the enraged Democrats and instead tried to talk over them.

Among the many shouts of protest coming from the hornet’s nest of Democrats: “Do what the people elected you to do!”

Seems even the right wingers are now calling bull on Durham.

The special counsel named by the Trump administration to investigate the investigators, John Durham, spent four years doing his darndest to uncover wrongdoing by those who handled the Justice Department’s probe of Trump’s involvement with Russia.

But while Durham claimed to have found “troubling violations of law and policy,” he took only two cases to trial — and lost both. He secured just one conviction, a guilty plea by a low-level FBI lawyer on a tangential charge that didn’t result in prison time. And even that misbehavior had already been uncovered by DOJ’s inspector general.

Democrats had long dismissed Durham as partisan. But when he came before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to explain his findings, he learned that he had lost the MAGA right, too.

Sure, Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), possessed of a vivid imagination, pretended that Durham had uncovered a great conspiracy. Jordan endeavored to tie together everything from Peter Strzok to parents being treated as “terrorists” at school board meetings. “They will even take your kids’ clothes!” Jordan warned, without elaboration.

But then there was Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), telling Durham “so many of us are underwhelmed” with his findings. “We’re baffled, just utterly baffled, that more people have not been held accountable for their crimes. These are crimes!”

Next, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) called Durham’s findings “silly” and “laughable.” “It seems like you weren’t really trying to expose the true core of corruption,” the congressman said, accusing Durham of being “part of the coverup.”

Durham called that “offensive” — but Gaetz wasn’t done. “You didn’t charge [former FBI deputy director] Andrew McCabe. You didn’t convict the lyin’ Democrats or the lyin’ Russians,” he went on. “For the people like the chairman who put their trust in you, I think you let them down, you let the country down, and you are one of the barriers to the true accountability that we need.”

I almost — almost — felt bad for Durham. He tried mightily but failed to prove true the MAGA Republicans’ conspiracy theories — so now he’s part of the conspiracy."

Opinion | The U.S. House of Recriminations begins Biden’s impeachment - The Washington Post

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