The half-dozen impeachment resolutions have quite a bit in common. They were all introduced by far-right House members. They all lack any meaningful evidence against the Democrat. And they’re all destined to eventually fail, since there’s no way 67 senators will convict the president and remove Biden from office in response to a scandal that doesn’t exist.
So why are so many GOP members bothering? As it turns out, Rep. Matt Gaetz participated in a Twitter Space earlier this week and the Florida Republican explained the entire strategy, out loud, with unexpected candor. As The New Republic summarized:
Representative Matt Gaetz has finally said the quiet part out loud: Republicans don’t have enough evidence to impeach and convict Joe Biden. They just want to make him look bad enough that he loses the 2024 election.
The congressman acknowledged that, realistically, those expecting to remove Biden from office through the impeachment process need to lower their expectations. “Let me break it to all of you: There’s no conviction and removal of Joe Biden coming on impeachment,” Gaetz conceded. “I know that. You know that. Anyone with rational thought knows that given Chuck Schumer’s control of the Senate. And frankly, the way that that Senate Republicans view Joe Biden and seem to work with him for their own selfish objectives.”
But if the goal isn’t to use impeachment for its stated purpose, why would Gaetz be such an enthusiastic proponent of pursuing it anyway?
“[T]he purpose of the impeachment to me is to use the Senate as the stage,” he explained. “But [senators are] not the jury. The jury is the American people. And if we had the Senate as the stage and the platform for James Comer to put on his evidence and advance this impeachment, it will not result in a conviction, but the true verdict can still be rendered by the American people.”
Oh. So as Gaetz sees it, whether the impeachment process works as designed is irrelevant. Rather, what GOP members of Congress should do, according to the Florida Republican, is use the process to sully Biden ahead of his re-election bid. The “trial” would effectively be an attack ad. The political theatrics wouldn’t be incidental; they’d be the sole purpose of the exercise.
For his part, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly raised the prospect of an impeachment inquiry, but Gaetz dismissed such talk.
“I think when we talk about it like, ‘Oh well, if we have an inquiry, then we can get more evidence!’ what you’re what you’re saying implicitly in that is that you don’t feel like you have sufficient evidence now,” the Floridian added. “It’s actually a degradation of your existing evidence to take that approach rather than proceeding I think, a more, more explicitly towards impeachment.”
As much as I appreciate Gaetz’s willingness to elucidate the partisan plan, there’s a nagging detail he apparently doesn’t yet appreciate: There is no incriminating evidence against Biden. House GOP leaders are "implicitly" saying they don't have "sufficient evidence now" because — wait for it — they don’t have sufficient evidence now.
To hear the congressman tell it, a Senate trial would be devastating for the White House because it would create a platform for Republicans to make their case against the president. The “existing evidence,” Gaetz claimed, is so brutal that there’s no point in even delaying the process to look for more substantiation.
And if the House GOP had come up with actual evidence of Biden’s misdeeds, this might be an effective plan. But, again, Gaetz’s strategy — impeach the president, tarnish him with a trial, inform the electorate before votes are cast — is predicated on the existence of proof that apparently doesn’t exist.
The congressman may have grand ambitions of weaponizing the impeachment process, but unless he and his Republican colleagues uncover actual wrongdoing, the entire strategy rests on a foundation of sand.
Nevertheless, it’ll be worth keeping this in mind when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill in a few weeks, and impeachment proponents swear up and down that there’s nothing “political” about their intentions.