House GOP rep eager to 'expunge' Trump's impeachment record

One House Republican believes turning back the clock on Trump's impeachment should be a top priority in 2021 - and he's not the only one in his party.
Image: A Senate page brings the first question to presiding officer Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts from the majority to read during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol
A Senate page brings the first question to presiding officer Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts from the majority to read during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 29, 2020.Senate Television / AP

For Donald Trump, few members of Congress enjoy as much online presidential support as Rep. Lee Zelden (R-N.Y.). Note, for example, that Trump has retweeted the New York Republican 35 times over the last four months.

Occasionally, we're reminded why. Over the weekend, Zeldin sat down with Breitbart News and made a curious declaration about his legislative priorities. Asked if it's "possible" that a Republican-led House would pursue "an expungement of the impeachment," Zeldin replied:

"I believe that that should be one of the very first orders of business in January of 2021, is to expunge the sham impeachment."

I especially liked the emphasis on timing: if Republicans take back control of Congress, Zeldin doesn't just want to turn back the clock on the president's impeachment; he wants it to be "one of the very first orders of business" in the new year.

After the interview, the GOP congressman promoted the interview online, publishing a tweet that read, "EXPUNGE the sham impeachment! President Trump, ACQUITTED FOR LIFE, should have never been impeached in the first place. Next step should be EXPUNGEMENT!!'

Evidently, the Long Island lawmaker feels strongly about this.

The comments caught my eye in large part because Zeldin isn't the only one thinking along these lines. Two weeks ago, Trump himself told reporters that House members should "expunge the impeachment.'

To the extent that reality matters, this is not a position to be taken seriously. As we've discussed, the evidence of Trump's guilt in the impeachment proceedings was obvious and overwhelming. Indeed, it was a point Senate Democrats, two Senate independents who caucus with Democrats, and a Senate Republican could all agree on.

But I wonder whether the president and his most loyal allies are thinking about a more long-term strategy. Perhaps someone told them about the fact that lawmakers censured Andrew Jackson in 1834, only to have his allies "expunge" the censure from the record in 1837 after control of the Senate switched party hands.

I won't pretend to know whether Trump will win a second term or when Republicans will next control a House majority, but don't be surprised if, should those circumstances arise in the near future, Trump asks his GOP allies to vote on a resolution -- no matter how ridiculous -- intended to say his impeachment didn't really count.