At a Capitol Hill press conference yesterday, a reporter reminded House Speaker Kevin McCarthy about some of his members’ interest in “expunging” at least one of Donald Trump’s presidential impeachments. Asked whether that’s something he’d support, the California Republican didn’t say no. The Washington Post reported:
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that he’s willing to take a look at expunging an impeachment of former president Donald Trump by the Democratic-led House. ... Asked at a news conference about the prospect of an expungement now that Republicans control the House, McCarthy said, “I would understand why members would want to bring that forward.”
The new House speaker added that expunging an impeachment is something GOP lawmakers are prepared to “look at” during the current Congress.
It’s not just McCarthy. The conservative Washington Times reported overnight that several House Republicans want to “give serious consideration to exonerating” the former president.
“I would certainly be interested in it,” Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia told the newspaper. Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas added that he’s “definitely interested” in expunging both impeachments.
This is bizarre, of course, but it’s not coming out of nowhere. Circling back to our earlier coverage, Trump himself has helped fuel such chatter.
Just two days after his first Senate impeachment trial, the then-president told reporters, “Should they expunge the impeachment in the House? They should because it was a hoax.”
As we’ve discussed, it was striking to see the Republican, just 48 hours after his trial was finished, despite several GOP senators conceding that Trump’s illegal extortion scheme toward Ukraine was indefensible, already talking about ways to invalidate his impeachment after the fact.
His message nevertheless resonated with some of his Republican allies. Indeed, then-Rep. Markwayne Mullin, before his election to the Senate, actually introduced a resolution that would declare Trump’s first impeachment “expunged.”
Soon after, the Oklahoman also took aim at Trump’s second impeachment, and that effort gained the support of, among others, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, who made some amazingly misguided arguments in support of the idea.
History buffs might recall that a related effort happened nearly two centuries ago. Lawmakers censured then-President 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.
The point at the time was for partisans to say that the congressional action happened, but for the sake of the historical record, it didn’t really count. Trump’s acolytes appear to have similar intentions now.
As of this morning, there are no pending resolutions addressing the matter, but there were some in the last Congress, and after McCarthy’s comments yesterday, it seems like a safe bet that we haven’t heard the last of this one.